Monthly Archives: November 2009

Nassim Nicholas Taleb: Good Bye! The Reappointment Of Bernanke Is Too Much To Bear

Shared by JohnH

Probably it was more surprising that NNT became as public as he did. I’ll miss him in the public eye, but it’s a small price to pay if it means the next book gets here sooner.

What I am seeing and hearing on the news — the reappointment of Bernanke — is too hard for me to bear. I cannot believe that we, in the 21st century, can accept living in such a society. I am not blaming Bernanke (he doesn’t even know he doesn’t understand how things work or that the tools he uses are not empirical); it is the Senators appointing him who are totally irresponsible — as if we promoted every doctor who caused malpractice. The world has never, never been as fragile. Economics make homeopath and alternative healers look empirical and scientific.

No news, no press, no Davos, no suit-and-tie fraudsters, no fools. I need to withdraw as immediately as possible into the Platonic quiet of my library, work on my next book, find solace in science and philosophy, and mull the next step. I will also structure trades with my Universa friends to bet on the next mistake by Bernanke, Summers, and Geithner. I will only (briefly) emerge from my hiatus when the publishers force me to do so upon the publication of the paperback edition of The Black Swan.


Dennett, Harris, Hitchens vs. Boteach, D'Souza, Taleb vs. Wright : Pharyngula

Shared by JohnH

Very cool! has summary of the recent debate. I still hope there is an audio version at some point, but this saves me the trouble of watching.

Don’t want to listen? Here’s a quick summary.

Shmuley Boteach: Yeesh. What an awful, screechy person. There is a god because evolution is impossible, and god is the only reason people are moral. Oh, and Hitler. Tiresome and cliched.

Sam Harris (about 9 minutes in): There are only 3 ways to defend god: 1) argue that your specific religion is true; 2) or you argue that religion is useful; or 3) you attack atheism. Only (1) is valid. He brings up a beautiful metaphor: what would you think of a friend who announced that he was so happy because he was destined to marry Angeline Jolie? The usefulness of this belief, or the idea that it makes him happy, is irrelevant against the falsity of the claim, yet this is the kind of argument defenders of religion always make.

healthcare epistemocrat: The Primal Blueprint: An Epistemocratic Map for Health Decision Making

Maps matter.
Especially in cognitive psychology (thanks to Dave Lull).
In practice, cognitive maps for decision making don’t tell you where to go or how to navigate in every specific case or at every point in time; instead, they provide sign posts, indicators of contours and textures, notes about landscapes, and other framework-related notions such as social-scaffolding nodes, platforms, outlines, and forewarnings. Maps provide information for people to make choices in their particular situations: maps serve as choice architecture.
But that does not mean that all maps are created equal. It also does not mean that all maps are useful. Personally, when given the choice, I prefer to move about the world without a map rather than to rely on the wrong map: I don’t want a false-sense-of-security or a false-confidence in the wrong map to lead me off the edge of a cliff like a lemming. Rather, I want a map that assists me in negative Black Swan avoidance while positioning me with exposure to the envelope of serendipity so that I can capture positive Black Swan hits along the way.


Shared by JohnH

Thought you Taleb fans might enjoy this. Personally, I can’t get enough Danny Kahneman. See also:

What we’re saying is that there is a technology emerging from behavioral economics. It’s not only an abstract thing. You can do things with it. We are just at the beginning. I thought that the input of psychology into behavioral economics was done. But hearing Sendhil was very encouraging because there was a lot of new psychology there. That conversation is continuing and it looks to me as if that conversation is going to go forward. It’s pretty intuitive, based on research, good theory, and important. — Daniel Kahneman