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Scooped by Deb Nystrom, REVELN
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Classic: Nassim N. Taleb and His Rules for Life. Who will break the status quo?

Classic:  Nassim N. Taleb and His Rules for Life.  Who will break the status quo? | Agile Learning | Scoop.it

"The controversial thinker who predicted the 2008 financial crisis hates bankers, academics and journalists. Carole Cadwalladr took the risk of meeting him."
 

"The controversial thinker who predicted the 2008 financial crisis hates bankers, academics and journalists. Carole Cadwalladr took the risk of meeting him."

    

In The Black Swan he argued that modernity is too complex to understand, and "Black Swan" events – hitherto unknown and unpredicted shocks – will always occur.
    
What's more, because of the complexity of the system, if one bank went down, they all would. The book sold 3m copies.  

        

Antifragile, the follow-up, is his most important work so far, he says. It takes the central idea of The Black Swan and expands it to encompass almost every other aspect of life, from the 19th century rise of the nation state to what to eat for breakfast (fresh air, as a general rule).

 I'd been expecting a popular science-style read, a Freakonomics or a Nudge. And then I realised it's actually a philosophical treatise.

     

"Exactly!" says Taleb. Once you get over the idea that you're reading some sort of popular economics book and realise that it's basically Nassim Taleb's Rules for Life, ...it's actually .....something like a chivalric code d'honneur for the 21st century. Modern life is akin to a chronic stress injury, he says. And the way to combat it is to embrace randomness in all its forms: live true to your principles, don't sell your soul and watch out for the carbohydrates.

       

Some of the gems of this journalistic piece:
      
"Experience is devoid of the cherry-picking that we find in studies."
     
 "You have to pull back and let the system destroy itself, and then come back. That's Seneca's recommendation. He's the one who says that the sage should let the republic destroy itself."

Size, in Taleb's view, matters. Bigger means more complex, means more prone to failure. Or, as he puts it, "fragile". It's what made – still makes – the banking system so vulnerable.
    
 In The Black Swan, one of Taleb's great examples of "non-linearity", or Black Swan behaviour, was blockbusters. There's no predicting what will be the next breakout success, or next year's 50 Shades of Grey, but when they take off, they fly off the charts, as The Black Swan did. The book itself was a Black Swan phenomenon. As Taleb is fond of pointing out – and as the small print beneath advertisements for mutual funds states – past performance is no indicator of future growth.

      

When the financial journalist Michael Lewis profiled a collection of individuals who, like Taleb, saw the crash coming and shorted the market, he described them as "social misfits". It takes a certain sort of personality to stand apart from the herd. And Taleb's cantankerousness, his propensity for picking fights, and for taking stands does also seem to be the source of his greatest triumphs. It was horrible, though, he says.
      

"Really horrible. Between 2004 and 2008 were the worst years of my life. Everybody thought I was an idiot. And I knew that. But at the same time I couldn't change my mind to fit in. So you have this dilemma: my behaviour isn't impacted by what people think of me, but I have the pain of it.
     

You must have felt incredibly vindicated?
      

"Vindication doesn't pay back. Nobody likes you because you were right. This is why I'm glad I made the shekels."
     

…Taleb is a fighter. And like the Roman generals, he believes in going into battle, leading from the front.
      

If you're going to make the case for war, you need to have at least one direct descendant who stands to lose his life from the decision.

      

….he gives good lunch. And he does something which no interviewee in the history of interviews has ever done – he pays. Whatever else he does or doesn't do, Nassim Taleb puts his money where his mouth is. He has skin in the game.

Deb Nystrom, REVELN's insight:

I discovered this gem recently.  Carole Cadwalladr does an excellent job of capturing the essence of the irascible Taleb, with a well written touch of poignancy.  I've become a fan of his ideas because of my own beliefs in the power of groups, teams and communities, and because we are due for many more "Black Swan" events due to the fragile nature of connected businesses.   

Technology is both a blessing and not.  I hope  there will be alternative forms of finance that will arise to solve the problems we've experienced since 2008, as well as what will continue to be a jobless recovery.  More about that soon.  ~  Deb 

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Scooped by Deb Nystrom, REVELN
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Hummus (Recipes) helps us Understand Antifragility using CONVEXITY

Hummus (Recipes) helps us Understand Antifragility using CONVEXITY | Agile Learning | Scoop.it

...Complex systems, ones in which we have little visibility of the chains of cause-consequences, that tinkering, bricolage, or similar variations of trial and error have been shown to vastly outperform the teleological—it is nature's modus operandi.  But tinkering needs to be convex; it is imperative. 


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...cooking...relies entirely on ...trial and error, as it has not been possible for us to design a dish directly from ...or reverse-engineer a taste 

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Take the most opaque of all, cooking, which relies entirely on the heuristics of trial and error, as it has not been possible for us to design a dish directly from chemical equations or reverse-engineer a taste from nutritional labels. We take hummus, add an ingredient, say a spice, taste to see if there is an improvement from the complex interaction, and retain if we like the addition or discard the rest. Critically we have the option, not the obligation to keep the result, which allows us to retain the upper bound and be unaffected by adverse outcomes.

Deb Nystrom, REVELN's insight:

Another illustration to help understand antifragility from Nassim Taleb, this one with a convexity diagram with an arrow that makes the point about tinkering over physics.  ~ Deb

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