The terms “black swan” and “perfect storm” have become part of the public vocabulary for describing disasters, but a new study suggests they are used too liberally as an excuse for poor planning.
Elisabeth Paté-Cornell, a Stanford professor of management science and engineering, argues that a true “black swan”—an event that is impossible to imagine because we’ve known nothing like it in the past—is extremely rare.
The AIDS virus is one of very few examples. Usually, there are important clues and warning signs of emerging hazards (e.g., a new flu virus) that can be monitored to guide quick risk management responses.
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