This is one of the few times I link Robb’s linked item better than his analysis of it. I think this is a great moral lesson all the way around!
The Parable of The Happy Turkey
The parable of the happy Turkey. Cut/paste and forward it to any/all of the happy Turkey’s you know. It’s kind of blunt, but it gets across an important point.
1. In the morning, a nice man comes for a visit.
2. He puts food in your bowl.
3. The food is fresh and tasty.
4. The food is always in plentiful supply.
5. At night there’s a warm place to sleep.
6. The next day, the process is repeated. The nice man visits, he feeds you, and you sleep comfortably. It repeats day after day.
7. You think: everything is right with the world. How could anything possibly go wrong? In fact, the only thing I really have to fear is getting hit by lightening when it rains or a the rare chance a fox might get under the wire and into the coop (which very seldom happens). The Turkeys that worry about this are pessimists.
8. One day, the nice man arrives.
9. The nice man grabs you.
10. He lays you across a stump, your neck exposed.
11. He raises an axe and cuts off your head.
This parable is courtesy of my compatriot, the philosopher of risk, Nassim Taleb (author of The Black Swan). He uses it to demonstrate how estimates of financial risk are fatally biased. How? Almost all financial companies and funds, from the idiot savants at Goldman Sachs on down, don’t have data over a long enough time period (typically only decades) to calculate real estimates of risk. Looked at another way; they can’t account for any of the potential events that occur outside the narrow window of observation we’ve experienced so far. So, in almost all cases, the chance that the price will go to zero on any financial instrument is MUCH higher than any of the published estimates of risk commonly used to make financial decisions.
I think this parable can also be used in another way. It can demonstrate how people are unwilling to think through their vulnerabilities (why am I in a cage?) and dependencies (why is the nice man the only way I get my food?) until it’s too late to do anything about it. In fact, they can’t see anything wrong with it, even when there are signs that the entire system that cared for them is about to turn deadly.