Showing all posts tagged #nassim-taleb:


The fragility of cancer treatment... or lack thereof clipping

Posted on September 14th, 2020

This story begins the same way all great stories begin: on Twitter (ha…). Last fall, as my ten-year high school reunion fast was approaching I reached out to one of my classmates on Twitter, which led to a few intriguing phone calls. Long story short, our conversation eventually led us to trade book recommendations. He recommended a few books by Nassim Taleb: a well-known mathematician, author, and "uncertainty" guru. Taleb has a s...

The Inventory: Nassim Nicholas Taleb clipping

Posted on September 14th, 2020

‘Who is my mentor? I have inverse mentors: people I learnt to not imitate,’ says the scholar and philosopher … What was your childhood or earliest ambition? I was utopian. I found adults and adulthood fundamentally corrupt, self-serving and unclear. I still do but I now find the utopian even more harmful. Public school or state school? University or straight into work? French lycée, whatever that means. University but largely autodid...

The Philosophy of Optionality clipping

Posted on September 14th, 2020

Optionality. One of the most underrated concepts of life I think. The very simplest defintion can be described as by Taleb: being able to accept both outcomes, to be comfortable with the counterfactual. It’s opposite? The Squeeze. The Japanese understood this through wabi sabi- incompleteness. The Taoists knew it when Laozi discussed the empty bowl. Being incomplete means being open to the infinite. A fractal has infinite length beca...

Nassim Taleb looks at what will break, and what won't clipping

Posted on September 14th, 2020

Paradoxically, one can make long-term predictions on the basis of the prevalence of forecasting errors. A system that is over-reliant on prediction (through leverage, like the banking system before the recent crisis), hence fragile to unforeseen "black swan" events, will eventually break into pieces. Although fragile bridges can take a long time to collapse, 25 years in the 21st century should be sufficient to make hidden risks salie...

Tail risk of contagious diseases clipping

Posted on August 16th, 2020

AbstractThe COVID-19 pandemic has been a sobering reminder of the extensive damage brought about by epidemics, phenomena that play a vivid role in our collective memory, and that have long been identified as significant sources of risk for humanity. The use of increasingly sophisticated mathematical and computational models for the spreading and the implications of epidemics should, in principle, provide policy- and decision-makers w...

The UK's Coronavirus Policy May Sound Scientific. It Isn't. clipping

Posted on March 31st, 2020

Dominic Cummings loves to theorise about complexity, but he’s getting it all wrong Crowds of shoppers in Edinburgh, 2 March 2020: ‘Herd immunity was nothing more than a dressed-up version of the ‘just do nothing’ approach.’ Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian When, along with applied systems scientist Dr Joe Norman, we first reacted to coronavirus on 25 January with the publication of an academic note urging caution...

Nassim Taleb: My Rules for Life clipping

Posted on January 4th, 2020

The controversial thinker who predicted the 2008 financial crisis hates bankers, academics and journalists. He's also a man of mystery – he eats like a caveman, and goes to bed at 8pm. We took the risk of meeting him ‘He’s forever having spats and fights’: Nassim Taleb in Brooklyn, New York this month. Photograph: Mike McGregor for the Observer How much does Nassim Taleb dislike journalists? Let me count the ways. "An...

Taleb’s Call to Duel clipping

Posted on December 21st, 2019

Nassim Nicholas Taleb and Claire Lehmann seemed like natural allies: Both are contrarian, entrepreneurial free thinkers. But recently, Taleb started calling Lehmann names on Twitter. Lehmann had defended behavioral genetics, especially claims about "intelligence": that it is measured by IQ testing, is genetically based, and correlates with success in life. Taleb has extensively criticized all three claims—they exhibit some of his co...

Considering Wealth at the Real World Risk Institute clipping

Posted on November 9th, 2019

To shake up my thinking and expose myself to highly-believable people, I attended the two-day program at Nassim Taleb’s – Real World Risk Institute.You can find my daily notes here. Cleaned up digital version of my notes here. What follows is my thinking on wealth inspired by what was presented. Mistakes are my own. I can hear things differently than what was actually spoken, so don’t assume my attributions are strictly accurate. To ...

Nassim Taleb on the Notion of Alternative Histories clipping

Posted on September 9th, 2019

We see what’s visible and available. Often this is nothing more than randomness and yet we wrap a narrative around it. The trader who is rich must know what he is doing. A good outcome means we made the right decisions, right? Not so quick. If we were wise we would not judge the quality of a decision on its outcome. There are alternative histories worth considering. *** Writing in Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in L...

Commencement Address, American University in Beirut clipping

Posted on September 1st, 2019

Dear graduating students, This is the first commencement I have ever attended (I did not attend my own graduation). Further, I have to figure out how lecture you on success when I do not feel successful yet –and it is not false modesty. Success as a Fragile Construction For I have a single definition of success: you look in the mirror every evening, and wonder if you disappoint the person you were at 18, right before the age when pe...

Nassim Nicholas Taleb Compendium

Posted on August 31st, 2019

Nassim Nicholas Taleb traveled the conventional route of education to real-life and theory to practice in inverse sequence from the common one, moving from the practical to the philosophical to the mathematical. He started as a trader, then got a doctorate in mid-trading career; he wrote literary books before writing technical papers, and his work became progressively more technical and formal with time. - Taken from Bio Notes Lin...

Common Sense Eats Common Talk clipping

Posted on May 1st, 2018

In November 2008, with the financial crisis in full swing, Queen Elizabeth attended a ceremony at the London School of Economics. Facing an audience of high ranked academics, she posed a simple question: "Why did nobody notice it?" How could it be that no one among the smartest economists, commentators, and policymakers in all her kingdom – and beyond – had been able to see the formation of a bubble of such dimensions?Illustration of...

Nassim Nicholas Taleb looks at the risks threatening humanity clipping

Posted on July 25th, 2017

Summary: How to deal with risks dominates our headlines, usually driven by single-interest groups that see only their favorite threat. Statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s latest work offers a way to identify the most serious threats facing us, and determine how much we should spend to fight each of them. It has received much attention. Is it useful? Part one of two. A series of papers by Nassim Nicholas Taleb et al made a large co...

The World According to Nassim Taleb clipping

Posted on March 19th, 2017

The World According to Nassim Taleb Derivatives Strategy: What problems do you have with financial engineering? Nassim Taleb: I disagree with such an approach in financial risk management. Some folks looked at the literature and saw differential equations and said "Gee it's like engineering". Engineering relies on models because you can capture the relationships in the physical world very well. Models in the social sciences se...

Taleb, Mystery and Conservatism clipping

Posted on August 10th, 2015

Nassim Nicholas Taleb is a Greek Orthodox Christian from Lebanon; the Levant. In the course of his book Antifragile, he promotes skepticism, theism, tradition, the writings of the stoics and seeks to restrict the claims of theory and "naïve rationalism." Elsewhere I have said that often theory seems to make us stupider than we would be without the theory. This is particularly true when theory says something is not possible. A key phr...

Nassim Taleb Excerpts with John Boyd

Posted on April 24th, 2015

These are excerpts of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book Antifragile. I use Maestro’s words as a skeleton to build upon some ideas synthesized by Col John Boyd and Miyamoto Musashi. Themes include: Knowledge as intuition built from engaging with reality, understanding when an adversary is employing the Art of the Advantage against you and when to call bulls*t, and why it’s important to embrace uncertainty and randomness in order to affirm ...

Getting Stronger - Antifragile and Hormesis clipping

Posted on March 11th, 2015

Hormesis is the ability of organisms to become stronger when exposed to low-dose stress. Is hormesis a basic principle of biology — or is it merely a strange but unimportant quirk of nature that only applies in exceptional circumstances? Nassim Nicholas Taleb–the options trader turned philosopher–is intrigued by hormesis, and sees it as but one example of a much broader phenomenon: a fundamental principle he calls "antifragility"....

Nassim Taleb: Methodology for Assessing Risks to Our Planet clipping

Posted on March 11th, 2015

In April, Brian Eno wrote to Nassim Nicholas Taleb, asking, "how can we even think about designing for a future that we can’t imagine?" The letter he sent was the inaugural Longplayer Letter, the first in a series of letters published by ArtAngel and Jem Finer’s Longplayer – a project to compose and perform a 1,000 year-long piece of music (running now for 13 years). The letters are to be written in relay-style: in responding to Eno’...