A Comment on Caravaggio and a Thought Experiment


The Incredulity of St Thomas - Caravagio c.1601 - Truth comes to the doubter

The Incredulity of St Thomas  – Truth comes to the doubter                                    [Caravagio c.1601]

A reader left a comment on the image of The Incredulity of Saint-Thomas by Caravaggio from my March 10,2012 post: When the Uncertainty Monster Rears its Wicked Head Should We Tell the Truth?-A Comment on Curry.  And you know me well enough by this point to know that if I’m going to take the time to write a 500 word reply I’m not going to simply leave it to languish forever buried under an illustration for a year old post.

So, here it is.

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Black Swan Bad – Tutelary Insults, the strangest beast in the world can’t be imagined – or how Cygnus atratus dreams of being a Platypus


For over two thousand years the idea of a ‘Black Swan’ has been synonymous with something that does not exist or cannot exist, and comes down to us originally from Aristotle’s Prior Analytics where the concepts: white, black and swan are proposed as predicates in syllogisms using white + swan as a necessary relations and the black + swan as an improbable or impossible one – not an entirely unreasonable position when you consider that no one had ever seen anything but white swans and seven eights of the world was unknown to the Greeks.

The Black Swan form was further popularized from the 2nd century on by Roman satirist Juvenal’s couplet:

rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cygno

[a rare bird in the lands, and very like a black swan]

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