Friday, 25 April, 2008

The Swan Song

I was recently told about the Black Swan Theory and the best way to describe a post on Swans is to use the greatest clich├ęs of all… The Swan Song.

As humans we believe in a few assumptions. We believe that gravity exists and we believe that energy and mass can be converted into each other because Einstein said so. Of course, we also assume that Einstein was a genius and therefore he was right! But then there was also a time when we believed that the world was flat and the Earth was the center of the universe. I am quite sure that some real genius would have come up with that idea.

Reverting back to the original Black Swan Theory, people throughout the world used to believe that Swans were white. The assumption was so prevalent that we associated a sense of whiteness with Swans and a sense of Swanness with white. And then, people discovered Australia and to their utmost surprise, they also discovered Swans that were black.

Now the point that I am trying to make is probably so banal that you would want to kill me by the end of this post, but then somethings have to be done despite the banality of their occurrence. A black swan stands for everything that we haven’t anticipated, for things that we believe don’t exist and of course, for discoveries that we haven’t made. The great question is what if there is an Australia where the laws of gravity don’t apply? What if de Broglie hypothesis on the duality of matter falls flat if we account for more dimensions than the four that we know of?

The composition of our entire environment, religion, culture and technology is based on the inherent belief that we know. It assumes that earth was created to be ruled by homo sapiens. The assumption doesn’t stop here, we also believe that evolutionary cycle has stopped working after it created this species and there will be just minor modification where we will be taller and we will lose the appendix. We believe that that since humans differ so much from other species, that human future development may not be governed by the same principles as other animals. This belief is deeply embedded into our culture, with our own set of Creation Myths and Literature. In fact, we are so self-obsessed that we believe that one day we would either rule the universe and we would be able to terraform planets for our survival.

What if human intelligence is too over-rated and there is a subtle wisdom in the evolutionary cycle which has supported immense diversity of species for millions of years before we decided to be intelligent enough to take over. One of the primary advantage of diversity is an essential understanding the diversity promotes survival in extremities of atmospheric conditions. It is far easier to destroy a thousand species with an atmospheric change than to destroy a million species. We an intensive expansion of our species we are moving towards a world with an eventual set of thousand species!

Someday we will discover the black swan and we would end up realizing that our initial beliefs were wrong. The immensity of faith that we have on our intelligence, wherein we believe that we will eventually solve any problem that comes our way might be rendered ineffective against the larger wisdom of what we face! This is not an apocalypse that I am talking about… it’s just a discovery. A small event in the evolutionary lifecycle could have a large impact on our survival.

So the next time you see a langoor happily sitting on the branch of a tree, chewing away one of its branches, just don’t smile to yourself wondering about the purposelessness of his existence. Atleast, he knows that there is no black swan waiting for him at the end of the day.