The Black Swans in the complex systems: an instance from the daily events

According to the Iranian governmental statistics, the total water resources drought rate is 80%. Regardless of how much the metadata is accurate, the drought is a serious issue for any country. Indeed, Iran’s economy profoundly depends on Oil and Agriculture, and the drought may cause serious ramifications to the whole economy. But, that is not just the all. What we should take care of is the other parts of the society. How much will the drought affect the living standards in major cities? How much will it trigger the in-and-out-country migrations? Do we know about all of these events or are we able to predict what is going to happen?

The answer is NO. We do not know. We might predict mathematically that if the same consumption rate continues, we will run out of all water resources. However, we just cannot predict how society will respond to that drought. What I do mean is the migration as a response, or they will stabilise in the place they are living. We have no clue to predict this so-called “Black Swan”.

The Iranian government has announced that the water transfer project from the Caspian Sea to the Iranian Central Desert is about to commence. Again, we might mathematically predict the response of the the Caspian Sea and the drainage basin, or the surrounding ecosystem to the transfer, but can we predict the politico-social ramifications of the transfer? Again the answer is NO, and we face another “Black Swan” here.

So, how all things happen? How is it possible that we simply cannot anticipate any of the consequent events? Well, to understand why I will explain it through the following examples.

The world before Wars passed the “Age of Enlightenment” and the “Industrial Revolution”. Following centuries the world witnessed the great thinkers, illuminators and philosophers. However, exactly after the significant influence of philosophy and logical thinking, two world wars happened; two events that seemed anti-rational thinking in their nature. So, one might ask why society’s mindset fell from the sophisticated German philosophy to the notorious ideas of Nazism? Why do societies respond in an opposite way? Well, that is a Black Swan. Society’s response to the historical events is highly unpredictable.

At first, the so-called nowadays messed up Middle East conflicts seem to trigger by a peaceful and civil demonstration against the Syrian government. As a matter of Black Swan, with the rise of Rebels, Free Syrian Army movements, external and internal supports and international interferes, and of course the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria; Aleppo turned to the apocalyptic wasteland. On the first days of the conflict, almost nobody could predict that the demonstration will lead to more than one hundred thousands of dead children, exile, hostility, rage and severe violence. But it did. That was a Black Swan which none of us could even see it. Even if we knew enough about the ancient Levant conflicts, we could not be able to predict Syria today.

Almost none of us could predict Donald Trump’s presidency by the time that Obama elected for US presidency. Almost none of us could predict what he plans to do in his presidency and how the world will respond. That is a matter of “Black Swan.”

Do you not persuade yet? Well, I suggest reading the Book. Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his outstanding book, “The Black Swan” illustrates a fundamental concept: The Illusion of Understanding.

I would like to emphasise; our mind is unable to understand a complex issue completely; just has a limited illusion of the events relationships together. However, the history society mindset is developed in a Complex system. A system which not only depends on each elements soundness but also depends on their sound relationships together. The complex mindset of history or society will not follow the rational linear logic theory of the mathematics. It is more complicated and uncertain. As Nassim depicted it simply: History does not crawl, it jumps. So, let me return to the question I asked in the beginning. What will happen after a complete drought? I just read that we have some clues from history that drought was one of the triggering factors in Iranian past revolutions, power wars and conflicts. What we do not consider ever, is the Matter of the Time. Those events happened thousands of years ago. Can we predict the future of social events based on the historical events? NO, we cannot. We cannot predict a Black Swan based on the White ones.