Monthly Archives: November 2014

Hume’s Turkey: A Tale of Thanksgiving.

Hume’s turkey like most turkeys lives on a farm. From the turkey’s perspective life is good. There are bad days: the weather might turn cold, the older turkeys might box him out from the best seeds and grass, a fox might get into the coupe. However, the farmer loves his turkey. The farmer keeps the coup, which protects the turkey from the weather. The farmer defends the turkey from the fox. The farmer makes sure the turkey gets enought to eat. The turkey is happy because the farmer loves him.

So, the turkey lives his life, carefree and without much thought for the future. The turkey has no way of knowing, based on his current experience, that one day he will be dinner. That is the problem with knowledge gained by induction, that is the turkey’s dillema. That is the risk of looking to the past as a predictor of what will be.

Bertrand Russell is credited with the idea of the turkey’s dillema in highlighting the holes in David Humes arguments about knowledge gained by induction.

Adapted from The Black Swan, by Nassim Taleb.