BLACK SWANS V GREY RHINOS

Lower Sixth Former Isobel ponders ‘Why do we mistake Grey Rhinos for Black Swans?’ for her EPQ (Extended Project Qualification).

From Isobel: ‘The monotony of Covid-induced remote-schooling and daily Downing Street briefings in the run up to my GCSEs made me question, ‘Why didn’t we see this coming?’ Did anyone foresee a pandemic or consider prevention strategies? As deaths rose and panic levels rocketed, I discovered two competing terms to describe the indescribable: Black Swans and Grey Rhinos. Black Swans are unforeseeable events that usually lead to severe consequences. Grey Rhinos, by contrast, are likely events whose high-impact outcomes are very noticeable. I was struck that we seemed to mistake a Grey Rhino for a Black Swan.

My fears rose further as I peered beyond our societal myopia, other examples began to materialise: BREXIT, Trump and the rise of political populism, and the 2008 sub-prime economic debacle amongst others.

My investigations pointed toward the concept of ‘Wilful Blindness’. Thankfully, my Cassandra predicament is not without hope! We can overcome wilful blindness through a combination of long-term planning, personal agency and focusing on the real economy. I hope my EPQ will remind us that the future’s in our hands and is clearly visible.’

We look forward to seeing Isobel presenting her full EPQ later this year. Click here to find out more about EPQs at Downside.

Outside of the classroom, Isobel is part of the CCF and Athletic Development Programme. She enjoys running, sport and music.