Black Swan Theory & Crime Victims

Helping Scam Victims to Understand Uncertainty

Author:
•  Tim McGuinness, Ph.D. – Anthropologist, Scientist, Director of the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc.

About This Article

The Black Swan theory, popularized by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, describes unpredictable events with significant impacts, often rationalized after the fact.

It originated from the unexpected discovery of black swans challenging the belief that all swans were white. These events are rare, have profound effects, and are often rationalized with hindsight bias.

In crime, such events can be unpredictable and have disproportionate impacts, leading to victim blaming and paradigm shifts in crime prevention. Resilience and recovery are essential for victims, emphasizing the need for proactive measures and comprehensive support systems in addressing crime’s unpredictable nature.

SCARS Scam Victim Support & Recovery Program

Black Swan Theory: A Black Swan (Cygnus Atratus) Represents A Dark Omen Or Event In History

The black swan theory or theory of black swan events is a metaphor that describes an event that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact with the benefit of hindsight.

Sound like something you know?

The Black Swan theory, popularized by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his book “The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable,” refers to events that are extremely rare, have a significant impact, and are often attributed to hindsight bias (read about the “Hindsight Bias” on RomanceSCamsNOW.com.) The name of the theory originates from the long-held belief that all swans are white, until the discovery of black swans in Australia, which challenged the existing paradigm.

According to Taleb, Black Swan Theory events possess three key characteristics:

  1. Extreme Rarity: Black Swan events are highly uncommon and fall outside the realm of normal expectations. They are often considered outliers, as their occurrence is not predictable based on historical data or existing models.
  2. High Impact: Black Swan theory events have a profound impact on various aspects of society, economics, or individual lives. They can disrupt systems, cause significant consequences, and lead to widespread consequences that are difficult to anticipate or manage.
  3. Hindsight Bias: After a Black Swan event occurs, people tend to rationalize and create explanations for why it happened, making it seem more predictable than it actually was. This bias arises from the human tendency to create narratives and find patterns, even in events that were highly unlikely or unexpected.

The Black Swan theory has implications in multiple domains, including finance, economics, history, criminology, and risk management. It challenges the notion that events can be fully predicted and controlled, highlighting the need to acknowledge uncertainty and the limitations of existing models.

In the case of risk and decision-making, the black swan theory emphasizes the importance of being prepared for unexpected events, diversifying strategies, and maintaining resilience in the face of uncertainty. It encourages a focus on robustness and adaptability rather than relying solely on past data or assumptions. This is especially applicable in cybersecurity and online safety, in that what you don’t know can represent the greatest danger.

The Black Swan theory serves as a reminder that rare, impactful events can occur, and our understanding of the world should encompass the possibility of such occurrences. It prompts a critical examination of assumptions, promotes humility in our knowledge, and encourages the development of strategies that can better handle unforeseen circumstances.

The Disproportionate Nature Of The Black Swan Theory

The disproportionate role of high-profile, hard-to-predict, and rare events that are beyond the realm of normal expectations in history, science, finance, and technology. In other words, black swan theory events are a once-in-a-lifetime event.

The psychological (cognitive) biases that blind people, both individually and collectively, to uncertainty and a rare event’s massive role in historical affairs. (This links back to the Hindsight Bias, Normalcy Bias, and Confirmation Bias.)

Scam Victims As Black Swans

In Taleb’s “black swan theory,” it refers only to unexpected events of large magnitude and consequence and their dominant role in history. Such events, considered extreme outliers, collectively play vastly larger roles than regular occurrences.

Now consider, that each scam or financial fraud victim is a Black Swan Theory event!

Prior to their scam/fraud, it was unforeseen and unpredictable that they would be scammed. The consequences were disproportional because of both their vulnerability and the financial impact on their future!

Yet, looking back in hindsight, we could have predicted with certainty that it would have happened!

Let’s Take A Deeper Look

Now we know that the Black Swan theory refers to unpredictable events that have a significant impact and are often attributed to hindsight and other biases.

Again, these events are characterized by their extreme rarity, high impact, and the tendency for people to rationalize them after the fact.

When it comes to crime and crime victims, the Black Swan theory can be applied in the following ways:

  1. The Unpredictability of Crime: Just like Black Swan events, certain crimes can be unpredictable and unexpected. They may occur in ways and at times that deviate from typical patterns, making them difficult to anticipate or prevent. These unforeseen crimes can have a profound impact on both individuals and communities, disrupting their sense of safety and well-being.
  2. Rare but High-Impact Crimes: Black Swan events are known for their rarity and significant consequences. Similarly, certain crimes, such as acts of terrorism or mass shootings, are relatively rare but have a profound and disproportionate impact on both direct victims and society as a whole. These crimes generate widespread fear, shock, and a sense of vulnerability, leading to lasting psychological effects on victims and communities.
  3. Hindsight Bias and Victim Blaming: Hindsight bias refers to the tendency to view events as more predictable than they actually were after they have occurred. In the case of crime, this bias can manifest in victim blaming, where individuals and society may unfairly attribute responsibility to victims for not preventing the crime. Victims may be subjected to judgment and scrutiny as people attempt to rationalize the occurrence of the crime in retrospect.
  4. Paradigm Shifts in Crime Prevention: Black Swan events challenge existing paradigms and can lead to reevaluation and reformation of approaches. In the realm of crime prevention, a high-impact event can serve as a wake-up call, prompting authorities to reconsider existing strategies and invest in new measures to prevent similar incidents in the future. This may involve enhanced security measures, changes in legislation, or the development of innovative technologies. We see this right now in the United Kingdom where they are now fully grasping the impact fraud has had on their nation, but other countries have not yet seen what the British see.
  5. Resilience and Recovery: Just as individuals and communities strive to recover and build resilience in the aftermath of Black Swan events, crime victims face similar challenges. Victims may undergo a long and arduous journey toward recovery, requiring support from various sources such as SCARS support groups, professional trauma counseling, law enforcement, legal assistance, and community resources. Building resilience helps victims regain a sense of control, heal from the trauma, and move forward with their lives.

Summary

Understanding the Black Swan theory and its relationship to crime and crime victims highlights the unpredictable nature of certain events, the need to avoid victim blaming, and the importance of resilience and proactive measures in preventing and responding to crime.

By acknowledging the possibility of rare and high-impact events, society can work towards creating safer environments and providing comprehensive support for crime victims.

Important Information for New Scam Victims

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PLEASE NOTE: Psychology Clarification

The following specific modalities within the practice of psychology are restricted to psychologists appropriately trained in the use of such modalities:

  • Diagnosis: The diagnosis of mental, emotional, or brain disorders and related behaviors.
  • Psychoanalysis: Psychoanalysis is a type of therapy that focuses on helping individuals to understand and resolve unconscious conflicts.
  • Hypnosis: Hypnosis is a state of trance in which individuals are more susceptible to suggestion. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including anxiety, depression, and pain.
  • Biofeedback: Biofeedback is a type of therapy that teaches individuals to control their bodily functions, such as heart rate and blood pressure. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including stress, anxiety, and pain.
  • Behavioral analysis: Behavioral analysis is a type of therapy that focuses on changing individuals’ behaviors. It is often used to treat conditions such as autism and ADHD.
    Neuropsychology: Neuropsychology is a type of psychology that focuses on the relationship between the brain and behavior. It is often used to assess and treat cognitive impairments caused by brain injuries or diseases.

SCARS and the members of the SCARS Team do not engage in any of the above modalities in relationship to scam victims. SCARS is not a mental healthcare provider and recognizes the importance of professionalism and separation between its work and that of the licensed practice of psychology.

SCARS is an educational provider of generalized self-help information that individuals can use for their own benefit to achieve their own goals related to emotional trauma. SCARS recommends that all scam victims see professional counselors or therapists to help them determine the suitability of any specific information or practices that may help them.

SCARS cannot diagnose or treat any individuals, nor can it state the effectiveness of any educational information that it may provide, regardless of its experience in interacting with traumatized scam victims over time. All information that SCARS provides is purely for general educational purposes to help scam victims become aware of and better understand the topics and to be able to dialog with their counselors or therapists.

It is important that all readers understand these distinctions and that they apply the information that SCARS may publish at their own risk, and should do so only after consulting a licensed psychologist or mental healthcare provider.

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The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of the Society of Citizens Against Rleationship Scams Inc. The author is solely responsible for the content of their work. SCARS is protected under the Communications Decency Act (CDA) section 230 from liability.

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