Skip to content Herbert Gintis’ review of The Black Swan

1.0 out of 5 stars Might be a nice twenty page essay, but a bomb of a book, April 10, 2012


Herbert Gintis

This review is from: The Black Swan (Hardcover)

Science does not generally predict, but when it is good science, it does explain. You cannot, even in principle, predict the decay of an energized particle, or when a component in a complex mechanism will fail. But you can develop a probability distribution that accurately represent the decay probability of the particle or the distribution of failure times of the component.

Of course, the most important time we drove to work is the time an iron bar came loose from a pickup-truck and came crashing through our winshield. Science cannot predict this. But science can tell us how to reduce or even eliminate the chance that this event will happen in a properly equipped pickup-truck. It is not an indictment of engineering models that they cannot predict, as the author seems to believe.

It would be lovely to have an insigntful exposition of great unexpected events, such as the fall of the Soviet Union, Black Monday, and the shooting of Robert Kennedy. This woeful volume is not it. I can’t image what anyone finds valuable in The Black Swan. This too is a completely unforseen event, but is also difficult to explain in hindsight.

via Herbert Gintis’ review of The Black Swan.

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