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Not impossible, merely improbable: Black swans. Conspiracy theories proliferate because they offer explanatory completeness 5 : Events and states of affairs that are complex, sometimes random and oftentimes shocking can seemingly be fully explained with conspiracy theories. From this functional point of view, conspiracy theories are a coping mechanism.

Conspiracy theories as a coping mechanism become especially important in contexts after a highly improbable event, a so-called black swan event, has taken place. Humans are bad at dealing with probabilities. Accordingly, we like to think that things are either caused by something or they are not.


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From an ontological point of view, such an attitude makes sense. However, as inhabitants of that reality, we do not have an objective outside perspective to assess it.

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Instead, the next best and only thing we can do is to try to describe and understand reality in terms of probabilities. In and of themselves, probabilities are uncontroversial. When when it comes to thinking and acting based on probabilities, though, we quickly run into problems. Our trouble with probabilities and probabilistic thinking is obvious when dealing with probabilities of future events and outcomes.

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What, exactly, does that probability tell you about the future? Can you instead just use a heuristic? A general way to understand probabilities is that probabilities express the degree of uncertainty surrounding our beliefs 8. The smaller the probabilities we deal with are, the greater the uncertainty of the events and outcomes in question.

In principle, the nature of small probabilities is exactly the same as the nature of large probabilities. Our sense of probability, however, is very shaky to begin with, and when we have to deal with very small probabilities, it routinely fails us. For the most part, that is not a big problem, because often, treating small probabilities as if they were inexistent is an efficient way of going about things.

So in the forest of my soul's exile, Remembrance winds his horn as on he rides. I think of sailors stranded on an isle, Captives, and slaves — and many more besides. Andromache, I think of you as I look down on the broad languid surface of the Seine from Carrousel Bridge.

Conspiratorial thinking as a coping mechanism for black swan events

It's a mirror of yesterday that undercuts my every feeling, even in this clear contemplation of you, still in your widow's grief, as cocky Phyrrus drags you to his bed. The Paris of old has undergone changes my heart cannot. Now only in memory, the Paris of makeshift booths and crowded tradesmen's squares. Every massive stone was covered with a green algaeous stain thrown up by wheels hurrying to keep the machinery of a divine indifference turning.

The once necessary storefront jumble of bric-a-brac has been effaced.

Black swan theory

A menagerie used to set up to the west of me. Just over there, one morning, as the loud road menders came to work to hoist bricks in the bird-alive dawn, I saw a swan pecking at the peg holding shut its wicker cage. Once free, it made for what it took for a wet gutter. It had not rained in two weeks.

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Webbed feet dragged white plumes across a scorched street. At the dried- up pool, the thirsty creature became frantic. Flapping its wings, it shaded itself in a mist of acrid dust.

The neck twisted and the beak scraped the dirt. Lifting its head to the cloudless sky, it scraked for water. I can still hear that unhappy bird scolding the dreaming azure. The amused owner tied a rope around the swan's neck and used a broom handle to prod it back into its cage.

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As Paris changes, my melancholy deepens. The new palaces, covered by scaffolding and surrounded by blocks of stone, overlook the old suburbs that are being torn down to pave wide, utilitarian avenues. The new city's coils strangle memory. As I stand gazing at the everyday activity surrounding the Louvre, I have an oppressive vision -- my frenzied swan's desperation is the condition of the multiplying exiles on this globe. Dancing puts a lot of pressure on your joints, so I suppose when my body tells me to stop I will have to.

But not for a long while. Q: What is your favourite dance, what do you think will impress audiences the most? The dual role of Odette and Odile in Swan Lake is also challenging but adds to the magic of the production. A: Performing to audiences all over the world.

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Friday 14 December Photo: A 'snowflake' watches from the wings For ballet dancers all over the world, performing as a principal dancer within a company is the ultimate achievement. Q: While on tour, what is a typical day like?