Monthly Archives: June 2014

There are two myths that prevail in academic circles…

There are two myths that prevail in academic circles (hence the general zeitgeist) because of mental contagion and confirmatory effects (simply from the way researchers look at data and the way it is disseminated):
1) That people are overly concerned by hierarchy (and pecking order), and that hierarchy plays a real role in life, a belief generalized from the fact that *some* people care about hierarchy *most the time* (most people may care about hierarchy *some of the time* but it does not mean hierarchy is a driver). The problem is hierarchy plays a large role zero-sum environments like academia and corrupt economic regimes (meaning someone wins at the expense of others) so academics find it natural so they tend to see it in real life and environments where if may not be prevalent. Many many people don’t care and there is no need to pathologize them as “not motivated” –academics who publish tend to be “competitive” and “competitive” in a zero-sum environment is deadly. I haven’t seen any study looking at things the other way.
2) That “competition” plays a large role compared to *cooperation* in evolutionary settings –of course if you want ruthless competition you will find examples and can model it with bad math. The latter point is extremely controversial, Wilson and Nowak have been savagely attacked for their papers (with >130 signatures contesting it) and, what is curious NOBODY was able to debunk the math (very very very rigorous backup material). If Nowak/Wilson were wrong someone would have shown where, and in spite of the outpour of words nobody did.

(Hint: whenever I see “math” with linear regression, my BS-detector gets fired up. See commentary on “scientists” and regression in SILENT RISK)
For comments:


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via There are two myths that prevail in academic… – Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

Some confusion about the silver rule as I presented it two days ago…

Some confusion about the silver rule as I presented it two days ago, to an extremely active and rich debate (if it is troll free it is because trolls and “uninformed” commentators are vanishing from this page thanks to systematic zapping).

The Silver Rule Under Uncertainty requires *skin-in-the game*, so “you can only expose others to risks that you are taking yourself”, in the sense that “we cannot see adverse consequences of all actions, but should there be a negative one I will pay the price and will be eventually incapacitated”.

So there is an evolutionary argument that those who systematically cause harm to others, willingly or unwillingly, will eventually exit the system –along with their genes.

“I share the opacity of future consequences if there are potential benefits to me”.

Broadly seen, this is (probabilistic) SYMMETRY, the working title of the short book I am now working on.

via Some confusion about the silver rule as I… – Nassim Nicholas Taleb.