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How to Survive (Almost) Anything 1 Kings 19:1-4 (5-7) 8-15a

How to Survive (Almost) Anything

A “black swan” is a low-probability, high-impact event that takes us by surprise — like what happened to Elijah.

Ever been caught in a disaster? Chances are that all of us will be at some point, whether it’s a personal crisis or something more widespread such as a hurricane or an earthquake. We’re used to hearing about disasters every day, but some are a little more disastrous than others, mostly because we don’t expect that they’ll ever happen to us.

Author Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls these unusual, who’d-a-thunk-it kinds of disasters “black swans.” He defines them as “low-probability, high-impact events” that hardly anyone would have anticipated (see the Animating Illustrations for a description of the term’s origin). Last year’s financial meltdown was an economic “black swan,” but other scenarios are more apocalyptic.

Say you’re traveling in a Third World country and get caught in the crossfire of a coup attempt or you’re hiking in the back country and are suddenly surrounded by walls of flame from a lightning-struck wildfire — those are instant black swans. Getting hit by a tsunami or an...

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