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The Nassim Taleb thread
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Paracelsus Offline
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Post: #26
RE: The Nassim Taleb thread
I finished the book at last. Well, I still have to go through the appendices, and I very likely will. Not to mention I want to go back to the start of the book and read it again, to absorb it more fully.

This shit is incredible. I don't understand why this book isn't required reading for every free-thinker out there in the Internet world. If Taleb's ideas about antifragility and optionality alone got into mainstream thought, imagine the sort of world we could have for ourselves.

This book is changing my thinking entirely. It really is. The biggest impact I think it's had on me was in the distinction between Aristotle and Thales of Miletus: Aristotle completed missed the point of Thales' little demonstration of his acumen: Aristotle thought Thales had made a deep study of the seasons and the olive oil markets and concluded it was the right time to invest in olive oil. He got it completely fucking wrong. Thales invested in options to buy/control all the local olive oil presses; it didn't matter whether it was going to be a good season or bad, Thales either benefited from being only minimally harmed (the price of his options) or benefited from maximum advantage (when the crop proved to be amazingly good that year and Thales cleaned up handsomely.) Thales' acumen wasn't in predicting the future, it was in positioning himself so no matter which way the future went he could only suffer minimal harm from future events. This was just mindblowing to me, it detonates the underpinnings of so much predictive thought for the past four hundred years or more.

One subject that occurred to me tangentially on antifragility, and that's Pascal's Wager, i.e. Pascal's reasoning that you lose nothing by worshipping a God who isn't there, so on balance religion is better than not. Leaving aside that Taleb seems to have some approval for some of religion's heuristic approaches to life (via negativa, after all, roughly 7 out of 10 of the Ten Commandments are injunctions to do not rather than do.), it seems the sneering criticism of Pascal's Wager that the Wager is not logically sound also hideously misses the point: Pascal's Wager is about risk management, not logic. Aristotleans have to be right, and therefore the logic must be unimpeachable, which is why a modern academic thinker could never abide Pascal's Wager. Thalesians are content to be wrong most of the time but right when it counts. Pascal's Wager is a heuristic argument for religion, not a law of physics, and it is meant to harness antifragility: your upside is that if you are right about God, you gain everything, and given your downside is death anyway, you lose nothing.

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02-03-2018 09:33 AM
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Post: #27
RE: The Nassim Taleb thread
Just listened to Taleb being interviewed on BBC Radio 4 while I was driving in to work. Totally unexpected, and serendipitous as I'm in the middle of 'Antifragile' at the moment.

I've never heard him speak before and I was initially a little disappointed as in person he seemed to ramble a little, but then that's to be expected I suppose when being interviewed live. I know I shouldn't compare him to Jordan B Peterson but as I'm watching a lot of his Youtube vids I can't help but contrast their styles; Peterson is just laser-focused, even live (as the now notorious Cathy Newman vid can attest!).

But Taleb only had a few minutes to talk and he managed to make some great points while plugging his new book 'Skin in the Game'. Most pertinently, about how modern politicians have it too easy being able to send men to war while they themselves sit in their air-conditioned offices with nothing to fear except maybe losing the next election. Contrast this to the fact that historically, generals and leaders (Hannibal, Caesar etc) would join their troops in battle and that only a third of roman emperors died in their beds! Great stuff.

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02-20-2018 04:17 AM
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Paracelsus Offline
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Post: #28
RE: The Nassim Taleb thread
^^^

If Taleb's bad at interviewing it's likely because he holds the whole bloody journalistic establishment in utter contempt, generally doesn't do interviews, and therefore doesn't get practice at it. He's not exposed to the small hits of harm that Jordan Petersen has had in the culture wars and therefore gets no better at it. If he was fragile to public opinion, this would be a disaster for him.

On the other hand, he doesn't need to do interviews anyway because he made his cash out of 2008 and doesn't market himself; you'll find later on in Antifragile that he dislikes the entire concept of marketing distasteful at best since he believes real quality products are spread by word of mouth - the very way I heard about Antifragile, here on RVF. His strategy with the media has basically been "I don't need you to survive because I have a shitload of cash I made on concepts I propounded then tested and proved. They stand for themselves. I am not fragile because I picked up the other end of the barbell: you can't smear me into bankruptcy because you can't get my income sources."

The "skin in the game" concept was probably the most grab-you-by-the-guts concept in the book, the one that makes intuitive sense without having to understand the observed data behind it that seems to support it. The best military commanders have always understood it at an unconscious level, I think. George Patton, basically one of if not the greatest field commander the 20th century ever produced, would regularly put his ass on the front line to see what conditions were there. This was to cut through the layers of bullshit that accrue between the field and the top, but it also demonstrates skin in the game too: he was putting himself in harm's way. Rommel, about the only guy who could compete with Patton for the best field commander of the 20th century, also regularly did dangerous recon missions as well: his men used to joke "Where Rommel is, there is the front."

It also has deep applications, especially in the area of law. Hammurabi's code, per Taleb: "A builder whose building falls down shall be put to death." The Romans had a similar concept: if a guy built a bridge they made him spend time with his family underneath it. Incentives matter; not in the way contemporary capitalism would have us believe it, mind you. No, your opinion can only really be trusted if you're going to suffer consequences if someone relies on it and you get it wrong. About the only shred of law in which this is even possibly present is in the law of defamation: publish a story that you didn't carefully fact check, and you're going to be sued. And that's before you get into all the bars and gates thrown across the concept's path in the courts. And you'll notice defamation, slander, and libel for the most part are judge-made law, common law, not the statutory form ... again, antifragile versus fragile.

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02-20-2018 08:32 AM
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Paracelsus Offline
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Post: #29
RE: The Nassim Taleb thread
The concept of skin in the game also arguably is a justification for the draft. When there is a draft, you have the argument that no lawmaker is going to risk his kids' lives overseas, and therefore a declaration of war is going to be rare if it ever happens at all.

The problem being, though, that a rational electorate is never going to vote in favour of a draft, especially in our narcissistic age, and it's all too easy to either avoid a draft legalistically or ensure that one's son or daughter gets sent to the rear areas where they will, in fact, never be at risk.

So, applying a bit of via negativa, here's an alternative proposal: war cannot ever be declared by the United States unless by vote of Congress (as it once was. Police actions or chasing Mexican rustlers back over the border would have to be separate cases.)

However, that war power would have a slight variation on it, via a Constitutional amendment: no member of Congress is eligible to vote on a declaration of war unless they have a first-generation descendant -- son or daughter -- currently enlisted and serving in the US Armed Forces in what would be called upon as a frontline unit, e.g. infantry, marine corps, armour, fighter pilot, bomber crew, or crewer assigned to a destroyer or frigate (since these are the frontline of a naval formation. They are essentially the bullet shields for all the cruisers, battleships and aircraft carriers sitting back under massive interdiction cover and which therefore hold much less risk, unless anyone thinks a US aircraft carrier is ever going to be sunk other than with a nuclear strike).

This circumvents the need for a draft but puts skin in the game of those deciding to go to war. It also makes the default for peace and necessarily removes a quorum for war in all but the most dire circumstances. If you want to prosecute a war, your sons and daughters are going to have to be put in the front line, or else you'll never get to vote for it. You'll still get warhawk morons who aren't afraid to put their sons in front of bullets, but it also increases pressure on those people because the responsibility is no longer diluted to the entirety of Congress, it's down to about, what, 18-20 men and women who have the entire country screaming at them either for or against war, and who have a large disincentive against it. The only hole then remains corruption and attempting to move the son or daughter to a rear area after war is declared. The answer to that would again have to be a Constitutional amendment: should it be found that a member of Congress attempts to intervene in the posting of his child once war is declared, that member of Congress is subject to military justice rather than civil. He would be judged by a jury of military men in a court martial, not a jury of his "peers".

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(This post was last modified: 03-01-2018 12:25 AM by Paracelsus.)
03-01-2018 12:21 AM
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Post: #30
RE: The Nassim Taleb thread
New article from Taleb where he names some of the common tactics that the left-wing pundit class uses to push agendas and score points in debates.

https://medium.com/incerto/pedophrasty-b...4bd70a29e8

The "think of the children" tactic:

Quote:Pedophrasty
Definition: Argument involving children to prop up a rationalization and make the opponent look like an asshole, as people are defenseless and suspend all skepticism in front of suffering children: nobody has the heart to question the authenticity or source of the reporting. Often done with the aid of pictures.

Throwing out buzzwords such as "racist" and "sexist"

Quote:Bigoteering
Originates with Tim Ferriss, describes tagging someone (or someone’s opinions) as “racist”, “chauvinist” or somethinglikeit-ist in situations where these are not warranted. This is a shoddy manipulation to exploit the stigmas accompanying such labels and force the opponent to spent time and energy explaining “why he/she is not a bigot”.
(This post was last modified: 06-20-2018 08:38 PM by Wutang.)
06-20-2018 08:37 PM
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Post: #31
RE: The Nassim Taleb thread

I believe Samseau expressed this same idea a long time ago too - abstractions whether based on race or any other sort of group identity maybe useful when dealing with problems that are on large scales (mass migration for example) but when it comes to interacting with the flesh and blood people you meet in your life, not so much.

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(This post was last modified: 10-08-2018 04:39 PM by Wutang.)
10-08-2018 04:38 PM
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Post: #32
RE: The Nassim Taleb thread
He's on Twitter trolling Saudi Arabia. Same thing as Roosh in Australia.
11-13-2018 02:37 AM
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Post: #33
RE: The Nassim Taleb thread
Taleb tweet storm on IQ; lots of statistical reasoning and concepts being thrown around and lots of it I can't understand (IQ too low? Banana) but others might find it interesting

12-31-2018 12:34 AM
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Post: #34
RE: The Nassim Taleb thread
(02-08-2017 11:22 AM)Lance McArthur Wrote:  Hard to pinpoint his political leanings, but he is definitely not a conservative let alone alt-right guy. In an interview he said that he was going vote for 3rd party candidate in the November election (probably Johnson) and from what I gain his antipathy for HRC is greater than his sympathy for Trump.

He said he likes Ralph Nader, because that is leftist politician who practices what he preaches as opposed to the DC establishment. At the same time, he seems to support Assad, the economic and political model of Switzerland and city states.

I like Taleb's writing and his way to look at the world is refreshing. A lot of it is bullshit, though. I thought he did rather poorly when attacking Steven Pinker, his advice on nutrition and lifting is often and his over-flated ego makes him sometimes painful to read.

But is he always amusing and thought-provoking, so props to him.

He is the closest thing we have to some modern exponent of the Greek city-state spirit, he is generally a patriot of Meditarrean (nutrition too). Party spirit is not his; finally, Bannon and Trump did not invite him.

However, his take on Switzerland is not the best one; inside the country, it is sometimes said that Swizerland is a "willed nation", i.e. the Swiss must will to be Swiss, i.e. to behave like the Swiss. It is not granted. Not everything is doable through politics.
(This post was last modified: 12-31-2018 02:58 AM by Kaligula.)
12-31-2018 02:53 AM
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Post: #35
RE: The Nassim Taleb thread
Didn't embed the right tweet in the post above so some of his initial tweets in the tweet storm aren't included. Here it is from the beginning.

12-31-2018 08:05 AM
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Thomas Jackson Offline
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Post: #36
RE: The Nassim Taleb thread
I like Taleb generally, but his IQ tweets are dumb. IQ is the best predictor of potential success that exists (but isnt perfect).
12-31-2018 08:18 AM
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Post: #37
RE: The Nassim Taleb thread
Full Thread bout IQ here:

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/10768...65856.html

On Twitter:
Quote:25-
For IQ idiots too slow:
-If a 70 IQ is certain to fail but a 150 IQ has a significant probability of NOT succeeding, the ASYMMETRY has SEVERE statistical conseq. & "correlation" is BS term.
-If variance is lower at some states & higher at others,"Bell Curve" is an illusion.
(This post was last modified: 12-31-2018 08:33 AM by joost.)
12-31-2018 08:32 AM
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Post: #38
RE: The Nassim Taleb thread
If you guys want a good idea of what IQ can (and can't) tell us, I would suggest reading bloggers like Dr. James Thompson, Pumpkin Person, and Jayman. NNT doesn't have a clue when it comes to this topic....
(This post was last modified: 12-31-2018 12:16 PM by Lion of Judah.)
12-31-2018 12:08 PM
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Post: #39
RE: The Nassim Taleb thread
With that said, I find this current debate between NNT and the various IQ bloggers absolutely fascinating, because both sides have pretty powerful things to say about the current state of social/behavioral sciences. On the one hand, NNT has investigated non-linear systems and has clarified to the layperson (better than anyone else) why traditional linear regression models and the bell curve fail when trying to explain the behavior of certain dynamical systems (like financial markets). On the other hand, the IQ bloggers have made it clear that psychometrics and behavioral genetics lie at the heart of everything we need to know about humanity, and choosing to ignore these fields will hamper anyone who wishes to study the human species...
12-31-2018 12:15 PM
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Post: #40
RE: The Nassim Taleb thread
Also, it is important to read Steve Hsu's blog. He's cited several studies showing that IQ is a meaningful causal factor in achievement even at the very high end (3 SD+).
12-31-2018 12:19 PM
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Post: #41
RE: The Nassim Taleb thread
(12-31-2018 12:08 PM)Lion of Judah Wrote:  If you guys want a good idea of what IQ can (and can't) tell us, I would suggest reading bloggers like Dr. James Thompson, Pumpkin Person, and Jayman. NNT doesn't have a clue when it comes to this topic....

I would tend to agree. However, I think the main reason Taleb takes such a controversial stance is because he has never been known to take moderate positions. Partly due to the fact that by nature he's a gadfly, but also intentionally because it generates controversy and gets people talking.


"So far none of the IQ-psycholophasters seem to grasp that local correlation is never correlation is the commonly understood sense. So when they say "IQ works well between 70 and 130" it means: "IQ works well between 0 and ~85, maybe"."

I think this is the underlying point in his IQ thread. You can use IQ tests to potentially identify dimwits but beyond that what conceivable difference is there between a 100 IQ and 130 IQ person? In my mind, his whole thread is about defanging IQ as an intelligible measure of any sorts and something that should be abandoned. Just as we abandoned the notion that idea that the four humors had an effect on our body and emotions.


Here's the full thread ~ https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/10768...65856.html
01-01-2019 11:16 AM
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Post: #42
RE: The Nassim Taleb thread
(01-01-2019 11:16 AM)Proto Ubermensch Wrote:  I think this is the underlying point in his IQ thread. You can use IQ tests to potentially identify dimwits but beyond that what conceivable difference is there between a 100 IQ and 130 IQ person? In my mind, his whole thread is about defanging IQ as an intelligible measure of any sorts and something that should be abandoned. Just as we abandoned the notion that idea that the four humors had an effect on our body and emotions.

A fucking massive amount, and as much as I love Taleb, if that's his "point" then he's simply wrong on this issue. Take someone with an IQ of 100, and someone with an IQ of 130, and train them both in a completely new skill that neither has encountered before. It will take the 100 IQ participant quite literally twice as long to reach the same level of proficiency as the 130 IQ one, every single time. It'll take three times as long for him to catch up to someone in the 150 range. That's a pretty big deal. I have a suspicion Taleb knows this and like you said, he's just taking this stance to get people talking.

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01-01-2019 08:49 PM
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Post: #43
RE: The Nassim Taleb thread
Now Stefan Molyneux is beefing with him:


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01-01-2019 11:40 PM
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Post: #44
RE: The Nassim Taleb thread
Really, I would have thought Taleb was above playing the "u r racist" card. Wonder if he's dosing his steroids a bit high and hitting the Lebanese vino at the same time.

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01-02-2019 12:16 AM
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Wutang Offline
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Post: #45
RE: The Nassim Taleb thread
Taleb now has written a full essay on IQ:

https://medium.com/incerto/iq-is-largely...31c101ba39
01-02-2019 01:13 AM
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Post: #46
RE: The Nassim Taleb thread
(12-31-2018 12:34 AM)Wutang Wrote:  Taleb tweet storm on IQ; lots of statistical reasoning and concepts being thrown around and lots of it I can't understand (IQ too low? Banana) but others might find it interesting

Yawn.

1 is advertisement for his books.
2 is too long, can't be bothered to read it. Is it something he wrote himself (so an ad, again) ?
3 makes a valid point, our school are totally inadapted for anybody far away from mean IQ. Most gifted individuals are left to fail, jobless, disintegrated socially, many kill themselves.
Not even talking about those too far from mean in the other direction ..
4 takes outliers as an example of something not well represented by statistics. Well duh.
5 says high-IQ people make good slaves.
It contradicts point 3, so I stopped reading there.

As to the lack of difference between 100 and 130 IQ, well, have a 130+ IQ, go live for some time among 100 IQ people, then come here to report about the pure fucking hell your life is.

Also further down the line (yeah, coulnd't resist the curiosity ..) he implies that IQ is only valid to detect morons basically ?
That settles it, he has no idea what he's talking about.
IQ as given by a test is a minimum value, there were many case studies done on this by competent people who actually care about people whose skills are left wasted and not used to better the world - as opposed to twitter trolls writing boring books.
01-02-2019 06:29 AM
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Post: #47
RE: The Nassim Taleb thread
^ Yep. It seems like projection because levantines score poorly and he is butthurt about it. He is a smart guy, but he is twisting himself in all sorts of knots and making numerous logical fallacies here.
01-02-2019 07:11 AM
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Post: #48
RE: The Nassim Taleb thread
Some of the countries with highest IQ in the world:

United Kingdom
Belgium
Netherlands
Canada
Germany
New Zealand
Sweden
Spain
France


In those countries, you're apt to hear and witness stupid shit of such magnitude that it rivals anything that cannibal witch doctors in rural Swaziland could come up with, such as:

There are 294 genders.
Our land doesn't belong to us.
Children must be taught to fuck each other in the ass.
Farting makes the sun shine stronger.
Dreams are proof of crime.
The best neighbors are foreigners who hate you and want you dead.
You can warm yourself by using wind.
We should invite strangers to pillage our homes.
It's an honor to send our children to die for a random tribe on the other side of the world.
If you kill your enemies, they win.


The ugly truth about IQ is that the ability to juggle triangles on a piece of paper is an amazing predictor... of the ability to juggle triangles on a piece of paper. Of cunning, common sense, wisdom, willpower, determination and numerous other factors involved in real life? Not so much.

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01-02-2019 07:29 AM
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Post: #49
RE: The Nassim Taleb thread
(01-02-2019 07:29 AM)Handsome Creepy Eel Wrote:  Some of the countries with highest IQ in the world:

highest mean IQ

(01-02-2019 07:29 AM)Handsome Creepy Eel Wrote:  In those countries, you're apt to hear and witness stupid shit of such magnitude that it rivals anything that cannibal witch doctors in rural Swaziland could come up with

You usually won't hear this from high-IQ people (unless they're propagandists).

Although it's of course possible to brainwash smart people, you just need to invest more ressources to do it (and less to undo it).

(01-02-2019 07:29 AM)Handsome Creepy Eel Wrote:  The ugly truth about IQ is that the ability to juggle triangles on a piece of paper is an amazing predictor... of the ability to juggle triangles on a piece of paper. Of cunning, common sense, wisdom, willpower, determination and numerous other factors involved in real life? Not so much.

Who ever said IQ was a measure of cunning, willpower, etc ?
High IQ is like a bigger engine, if you drive like shit you'll just get into the wall faster.

But yeah, maximum potential power is not a good approximation of real-life speed from A to B.
If anybody actually needed this to be explicited he probably didn't have such a powerful engine to begin with, if I may say.
(This post was last modified: 01-02-2019 08:37 AM by Oberrheiner.)
01-02-2019 08:37 AM
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Post: #50
RE: The Nassim Taleb thread
Ok so in his tweets he says in 19 those morons have no clear definitions and/or understanding of some terms, then in 23 he says intelligence is survival.
So not only does he contradicts himself, but also this whole conversation is pointless since we are talking about different things.

Yeah you see, in serious papers the definitions are given in the beginning so that people can agree on them and know at all what we're talking about.
Fuck this guy seriously, he's wasting my time.
I'm the stupid one here though, he had wasted my time already with his black swan book, so much so that I never got around to starting antifragile.

I don't know why I always give people a second chance.
In this case probably because he does makes a couple good points, the problem is that he presents them as something revolutionary while they're not, and they're lost in a sea of useless drama.

Or more probably because so much of my time was wasted by IQ-deniers when I was young.
All of them having this one thing in common : they were not high-IQ themselves, meaning they were talking about something they had no idea about - and that's a cardinal sin, always and regardless of your IQ.

In any case I'm done with Nassim, the signal/noise ratio is just too low.
01-02-2019 09:13 AM
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