A review of Nassim Nicholas Taleb‘s The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
by Kevin Barrett, TruthJihad.com
9/11, we can all agree, was a highly-improbable, high-impact event on which fortunes were made and lost.
I personally lost about two million dollars on 9/11. In 2004, I turned down a University of California post-doc because it was funded by the 9/11-disinfo-spreading Ford Foundation, thereby stepping off the academic career track in favor of 9/11 truth activism. As a 45-year-old, I would have been expected to average at least $75,000 per year for about 25 years had I labored on the academic plantation then collected a pension, yielding $1,875,000 plus returns on any of that that got invested.
My two-million-dollar loss looks paltry compared to the windfalls reaped by Larry Silverstein, certain anonymous put option investors, the military-industrial complex, and the nation of Israel. Silverstein, a close friend of Netanyahu and reputed NYC mob figure, bought the World Trade Center two months before 9/11, doubled the insurance, changed it to a cash-payout policy, and miraculously avoided having to pay billions of dollars for asbestos removal when every building in the WTC complex — and not a single building surrounding it — was totaled on 9/11. Silverstein, who put down only 14 million dollars of his own money to buy the World Trade Center, was awarded 4.5 BILLION dollars cash plus rights to rebuild…and when last heard from was back in court asking for another 12.3 billion dollars. This is the same man who confessed on national television to participating in the controlled demolition of World Trade Center Building 7. (See History Commons entry on Larry Silverstein.)
The put options investors also did well. By gambling that stock in Morgan Stanley (which occupied two whole floors of the Towers) and American Airlines would sharply drop on or about September 11th, 2001, these people made billions. But not to worry: The 9/11 Commission Report assures us that these 9/11 profiteers had “no conceivable ties to al-Qaeda.” (The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 499, note 130).
By far the biggest winner on 9/11 was the nation of Israel. Geo-strategically, Israel had reached a dead-end prior to 9/11, as fear of Iraqi-encouraged suicide bombers drove Jews to emigrate, and not immigrate, in numbers auguring demographic collapse, while the popping of the dot-com bubble threatened to utterly destroy Israel’s economy. As Naomi Klein wrote in The Shock Doctrine:
“With the most tech-dependent economy in the world, Israel was hit harder by the dot-com crash than anywhere else. The country went into immediate free-fall, and by June 2001, analysts were predicting that roughly three hundred high-tech Israeli firms would go bankrupt…”
How did Israel avoid economic collapse? Klein continues:
“The only reason the recession was not even worse, the [Tel-Aviv Globe] observed, was that the Israeli government quickly intervened [during the run-up to 9/11] with a powerful 10.7 percent increase in military spending, partially funded through cutbacks in social services. The government also encouraged the tech industry to branch out from information and communication technologies and into security and surveillance. In this period, the Israeli Defence Forces played a role similar to a business incubator. Young Israeli soldiers experimented with network systems and surveillance devices while they fulfilled their mandatory military service, then turned their findings into business plans when they returned to civilian life. A slew of new start-ups were launched, specializing in everything from ‘search and nail’ data-mining, to surveillance cameras, to terrorist profiling. When the market for these services and devices exploded in the years after September 11, the Israeli state openly embraced a new national economic vision: the growth provided by the dot-com bubble would be replaced with a homeland security boom.” (Klein, The Shock Doctrine, p. 434-435)
Post-9/11, US military spending doubled almost overnight as America went to war against Islam on behalf of Israel. Elements of the US military-industrial complex, along with the Israelis, reaped unprecedented rewards; while the US economy as a whole took its worst hit since the Great Depression. (The American economy experienced robust growth, with minor fits and starts, from 1945 to 2001; while since 9/11, the fiscal hemorrhage of War on Islam for Israel has ended real growth in the non-military sector.)
Not everyone who profited from 9/11 did so at the expense of others. One worthy beneficiary was Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable.
Taleb’s thesis is that conventional wisdom, in all aspects of life, fails to take into account the considerable and often overwhelming impact of highly improbable events. Prior to 9/11, this thesis would have seemed highly improbable, and Taleb’s book would have gone nowhere.
On 9/10/2001, no US domestic aircraft had been successfully hijacked in more than two decades. Thus it would have seemed wildly improbable that five-foot five, 140-pound Arabs (the so-called “muscle hijackers”!) would overcome military-trained 200-pound weightlifter pilots to gain control of four passenger jets, and that terrorist pilots deemed too incompetent to solo in Cessnas would manage to destroy three skyscrapers with two airplanes. Naturally, those who buy the official version of 9/11 see it as one of those extremely improbable events that wields massive impact. Thanks to 9/11, Taleb’s brilliant, highly-important book got the attention it deserves.
Taleb claims that we are blind to “Black Swans” – high-impact, unexpected events – because in retrospect we forget how unexpected they were…which leaves us vulnerable to the next one:
“Think of the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001: had the risk been reasonably conceivable on September 10, it would not have happened.” (xix)
How’s that? Despite mendacious denials by US officials, the hijacked-planes-into-buildings scenario was not only highly conceivable, but it had been tried various times, notably against the Eiffel Tower...and had been prominently featured in US military drills (including one envisioning airliner attacks against the Pentagon and World Trade Center) as well as both written and cinematic fiction. Anti-terrorist planning, such as the massive security measures surrounding the Atlanta Olympics and various summit conferences, prioritized protection against planes-into-buildings attacks. (See Richard Clark, Against All Enemies.) The idea of hijackers crashing planes into high-value targets was not just conceivable to those tasked with protecting the USA against terrorism, it was their leading obsession prior to 9/11.
But what if 9/11 was another kind of Black Swan? What if terrorist attacks by anti-government outsiders and foreign “enemies” are the white swans – the kind of terrorist attacks we expect – while terrorist attacks facilitated by our own government officials, perpetrated by the intelligence services of “friendly” foreign nations, are the kind of high-impact Black Swans we need to worry about?
Taleb offers important practical advice based on his Black Swan insight: Live your life in such a way as to protect yourself against bad Black Swans, while leaving open possibilities for good ones.
And that is exactly what I intend to keep doing. By working to publicize evidence that 9/11 (like other big terror spectaculars) was an inside job, I’m helping reduce the risk of another false-flag Black Swan…while leaving open the possibility that my efforts will one day rewarded in the (unlikely/unforseen) event that 9/11 truth triumphs in the not-too-distant future. To me, it is important that these risks and rewards primarily benefit others, because I believe in the moral structure of the universe. According to my worldview, those like Silverstein, Israel, the war pigs, and the put options profiteers, who attempt to gain an edge at the expense of others, are all guaranteed long-term losers.
Was it worth throwing away two million dollars? As a straightlaced investment counselor, Nassim Nicholas Taleb would probably say no. But as an iconoclastic thinker open to the poetry of the new and unexpected and potentially wonderful, he might very well say yes.