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It would appear that before we can predict future events with any hope of success we must ask and answer things that we can observe and relate to. That quest begins with the simple question — What happened? That requires our observing some phenomena and defining the limits of what is within a definition and what is outside of the definition. As this entity is defined it will be helpful to give the resultant thing a name, even a simple name for that unknown like happened with X-rays. Those people didn’t know what the phenomena were that they were observing but they knew it radiated like light so they named it X … rays. Usually, things get more descriptive names, except in mathematics where they seem to prefer single letters.

As soon as a phenomenon is observed to be existing the next fundamental question would be — How did it happen? How did this thing come into existence? If the event has familiar precursors it may be easy to explain the event as dependent upon the precursors. But, when the event is new to the observer or totally unique to everyone, it may require a subset of observations and definitions similar to those needed to define the original question, what happened? If enough satisfactory precursors can be determined then we can claim we know how it happened. If that claim is made and we know the precursors, then we can often do a simple repetition of those conditions and expect to get the same result. However, there may be unknown necessary precursors that have been affecting the outcomes but which only occur randomly but with a statistical probability, like radioactive particle decay. Or earthquakes. These things are known to happen, but the only way to cope is to prepare for Black Swan events and wait, or to construct situations where antifragile defenses function to make even the unknowable frequency be survivable and tolerable, even advantageous. Both of those strategies are a form of pre-thinking and preparing by antifragile preadaptation.

If those conditions are met, then the preadapted strategist will win in games of strategy against all but the most sophisticated of players. For those special situations, it is necessary to have inside information. Why did it happen? may be unknowable when there are sophisticated players involved in the situation and What’s next? will be unknowable. The situation may appear to be perfectly within the predictions based on the experience defined above but at the critical moment when you are most exposed, things fail to behave as expected. Therefore:

You must be very careful when playing with the Big Boys, but as my father told me when I was very young, “You never know who the Big Boys are.”