Jack Uldrich
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Unlearning from the Perspective of a Turkey

Posted in Analogy, Black Swans, General, History, Quiz, Unlearn Strategy

Being the day before Thanksgiving here in America, I thought I would recount a wonderful story from Nassim Taleb's outstanding book, The Black Swan:Turkey  

 "Consider a turkey that is fed every day. Every single feeding will firm up the bird's belief that it is the general rule of life to be fed every day by friendly members of the human race "looking out for its best interests," as a politician would say. On the afternoon of the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, something unexpected will happen to the turkey. It will incur a revision of belief."

Taleb goes on to add this: "Think of the feeding again: What can a turkey learn about what is in store for it tomorrow from the events of yesterday? A lot, perhaps, but certainly a little less than it thinks, and it is just that "little less" that may make all the difference."

Here's to wishing you and your loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving … but remember this: The knowledge you have learned in the past may have been useful, indeed, instrumental to your current success but it is no guarantee that it will insure your survival tomorrow. Just ask a turkey. Stay open to unlearning!

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3 thoughts on “Unlearning from the Perspective of a Turkey”

  1. Heidi says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I’m vegan so I’m already aware of the consequences for turkeys this time of year, but hadn’t thought of it in this way before. Definitely a great example of how past experience does not necessarily provide insight into what the future holds.

  2. Heidi says:

    Of course I would also have to add that most turkeys come from factory farming where they most definitely do not experience being “fed every day by friendly members of the human race” at all!
    Perhaps someday our society will unlearn the whole factory farming paradigm and go back to the family farms that Taleb’s descriptions addresses. But paradigm shifts can sure take their time…

  3. Jack Uldrich says:

    Touche’! Thanks for sharing your insights and perspective.

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