Posts Tagged ‘Taleb’
Trump the anti Intellectual yet idiot

Amazon opens in Australia, moves to tax foreign packages go into hyper-drive. Quelle surprise, big business always wants to impede competition. It’s the easiest way to lock in fat profits. They legally bribe politicians and regulators with donations and post public service sinecures.

You need to extend patent or copyright induced monopolies? No problem. You want to do it in other countries? Well, have we got a treaty for you.

Milton Friedman stood up for the consumer and against big business and government:

“There’s a common misconception that people who are in favor of a free market are also in favor of everything that big business does. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

In this he followed in the footsteps of Adam Smith:

“People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”

Few modern economists, policy makers and politicians do. All too often they impose the same harmful policies. Our establishment class, be it of the “left” or “right” are cognitively captured. Their blinkered mindset and arrogance make them Taleb’s Intellectual Yet Idiot.

“These self-described members of the “intelligentsia” can’t find a coconut in Coconut Island, meaning they aren’t intelligent enough to define intelligence hence fall into circularities — but their main skill is capacity to pass exams written by people like them. With psychology papers replicating less than 40%, dietary advice reversing after 30 years of fatphobia, macroeconomic analysis working worse than astrology, the appointment of Bernanke who was less than clueless of the risks, and pharmaceutical trials replicating at best only 1/3 of the time, people are perfectly entitled to rely on their own ancestral instinct and listen to their grandmothers (or Montaigne and such filtered classical knowledge) with a better track record than these policymaking goons.

Indeed one can see that these academico-bureaucrats who feel entitled to run our lives aren’t even rigorous, whether in medical statistics or policymaking. They can’t tell science from scientism — in fact in their image-oriented minds scientism looks more scientific than real science. (For instance it is trivial to show the following: much of what the Cass-Sunstein-Richard Thaler types — those who want to “nudge” us into some behavior — much of what they would classify as “rational” or “irrational” (or some such categories indicating deviation from a desired or prescribed protocol) comes from their misunderstanding of probability theory and cosmetic use of first-order models.) They are also prone to mistake the ensemble for the linear aggregation of its components” Taleb, The Intellectual Yet Idiot, “https://medium.com/…/the-intellectual-yet-idiot-13211e2d0577

Is it really any wonder that Trump was able to run rings around them? He bested what Republicans claimed was the most talented field ever. He then defeated the Democrat candidate in the face of fierce media, academic and public servant opposition. “Intellectual yet idiot” Trump is not. The world needs more like him, so we can reform peacefully rather than through revolutionary rivers of blood.

 
A nation of wimps

Stress a source of strength:

A Nation of Wimps: Parents are going to ludicrous lengths to take the bumps out of life for their children. However, parental hyperconcern has the net effect of making kids more fragile; that may be why they’re breaking down in record numbers.

Nassim Taleb’s antifragility strikes again:

Fragile things break under stress. But, according to Nassim Nicholas Taleb, there’s an entire class of other things that don’t simply resist stress but actually grow, strengthen, or otherwise gain from unforeseen and otherwise unwelcome stimuli. Taleb sees degrees of antifragility everywhere, from fasting, mythology, and urban planning to economic, technological, cultural, and biological systems.

A 20 min Nassim Nicholas Taleb youtube discussion is worth listening to here

Antifragility highlights yet again how we tend to create that which we most fear. In trying to protect our children from harm now, we cause them harm later. Preventing short term harm can cause long term problems. Unfortunately short run gains are often readily apparent, while the long term harm is hidden. Keynesian economics is the classic example, as is the welfare state.

The purported goal of the welfare state, to help people, is noble. But once a society creates a welfare state its people have different expectations about their possible futures. They therefore make different choices and their behavior changes. This changes people, and the society which they in aggregate form. Over time it changes the values their children grow up with. People and society fundamentally diverge from what would have eventuated absent the welfare state. At the individual level this is epitomized by the saying:

Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habit.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny

Thus a strong sovereign people and vigorous society can be transformed into something far weaker and more fragile. Truly the road to hell is paved with good intentions.