Fooled by Belligerence: Comments on Nassim Taleb’s “The Long Peace is a Statistical Illusion”

I’m only somewhat familiar with Steven Pinker’s work, specifically his book, ‘The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined’, through various talks. A good place to start is his ‘Decline of Violence’ talk at from October 8, 2012 which you can find here.

Earlier this month, Nov. 2, 2012, NNT published a critique of the book’s underlying point…

Friends, for discussion. I am collaborating with Scott Atran on a piece debunking the LONG PEACE argument. Here are my points.

“Now to my horror I saw an identical theory of great moderation produced by Steven Pinker with the same naive statistically derived discussions (>700 pages of them!).”

Today Dave Lull pointed out to me that Steven Pinker has responded to NNT’s critique. Here’s a link and an excerpt.

Taleb shows no signs of having read Better Angels with the slightest attention to its content. Instead he has merged it in his mind with claims by various fools and knaves whom he believes he has bettered in the past. The confusion begins with his remarkable claim that the thesis in Better Angels is “identical” to Ben Bernanke’s theory of a moderation in the stock market. Identical! This alone should warn readers that for all of Taleb’s prescience about the financial crisis, accurate attribution and careful analysis of other people’s ideas are not his strong suits.

Full pdf:

 @sapinker meet @nntaleb

[Update: Later that day]
Internet clever guy Paul Kedrosky @pkedrosky had already broken the Steven Pinker pdf reply on Twitter.
NNT responded to Paul with a link to
Nothing from @sapinker yet. Follow along on Twitter.

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