The Black Swans of Butler

My forthcoming memoir of my first season in a March Madness pool will be called Bracket Virgin: How I Bet and Lost a Bundle on a Bunch of Schools I Never Even Heard Of, And Just Where the Hell is Murray State, Anyway?

Anyway, I never fully understood the scoring in my pool, but I’m told I  finished fourth, just out of the money, thanks to the inexplicable collapse of Kentucky, whom my friend the FabSage, a man who has devoted literally years of his life to the pseudo-scientific study of such things, told me to pick. But we’ll get ’em next year.

As  Butler  prepares for their first-ever Final Four this weekend, it strikes me that they’re a great example of what the author Nassim Nicholas Taleb describes in his 2007 book The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. As Taleb explains,

What we call here a Black Swan is an event with the following three attributes. First, it is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility. Second, it carries an extreme impact. Third, in spite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable. . . .  A small number of Black Swans explain almost everything in our world, from the success of ideas and religions, to the dynamics of historical events, to elements of our own personal lives.

Isn’t that Butler to a T?

Outlier? You betcha. They’re about the outlyingest outliers you can find, given that a scant 1.3% of bracketologists picked them in the big CBS pool.

Extreme impact? Didn’t you hear all those brackets being ripped up all over the country?

And how about the ex post facto concoction of reasons why it all makes sense that Butler is in? Check these 9 Reasons why those Bulldogs will take it all.

And Go Swans!


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