Monthly Archives: September 2016

India-Pakistan, Nudging, Meat, The Incerto, Richard Thaler, The Intellectual Yet Idiot | Twitter

@nntaleb Any cardiologist in the room? Is a *simple* test of volatility of heart rate powerful enough? Thanks! Permalink 11:36 AM – 30 Sep 2016

@nntaleb السلاح ب ايد الخرا بيجرح Permalink 10:25 AM – 30 Sep 2016

@nntaleb 2/Trump n’est qu’un marchand de pacotille; Hilarante une interventioniste belliqueuse Permalink 10:23 AM – 30 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Pas du tout vrai. Hilarante est avide de guerre, prete a déstabiliser le systeme, a causer des cygnes noirs.   Permalink 10:19 AM – 30 Sep 2016

@RonPaulInstitut Syria – The US Propaganda Shams Now Openly Fail   Permalink 9:05 AM – 30 Sep 2016

@nntaleb 3/ You cannot expect @Grurray points out a sect with suicide bombers to play tit-for-tat as in your textbooks! *Nuclear* suicide bombers… Permalink 6:00 AM – 30 Sep 2016

@nntaleb 2/ Something in Pakistan has been strange, as we know from the Bin Laden episode. In time, about every inconsistency becomes apparent. Permalink 5:51 AM – 30 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Is it me? This India-Pakistan thingy is a very serious. Countries just don’t have direct “skirmishes”. Permalink 5:36 AM – 30 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Skin in the game.   Permalink 6:52 PM – 29 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Procrustes 2nd Edition, UK (Penguin) Permalink 1:05 PM – 29 Sep 2016

@nntaleb I was not worried about the European banking system until a European finance minister said to not worry.   Permalink 10:36 AM – 29 Sep 2016

@nntaleb The Reverse! Logistic is most elegant natural distribution, Normal is an adjustment to it. Permalink 9:53 AM – 29 Sep 2016

@robertwrighter Enjoyed chatting w @MaxAbrahms on @bloggingheads about whether Hillary’s or Trump’s foreign policy is scarier:   Permalink 6:20 PM – 28 Sep 2016

@nntaleb This is the real problem, compounded by an increase in age-conditional life expectancy.   Permalink 5:20 AM – 29 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Huge step in @WolframResearch Mathematica 11: Expression of functions in terms of MeijerG Permalink 4:29 AM – 29 Sep 2016

@nntaleb BTW, evidence that @michikokakutani is pathologically crazy.Not just incompetent; crazy. @MarkHarrisNYC Permalink 4:01 AM – 29 Sep 2016

@nntaleb My point is that a nudger would make your “choice architecture” into helmets. Wrong norms. @han0z @paulmarsha @gaijinrage Permalink 3:24 AM – 29 Sep 2016

@nntaleb 2) In Lebanon the absence of president has been a great thing, shifting a bit of power to the municipalities. Permalink 3:19 AM – 29 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Another reason “nudging” is dangerous.   Permalink 3:13 AM – 29 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Lesson from the 2016 election: an evolved decentralized country w/adults in it & developed legal machinery shouldn’t need a president. Permalink 3:09 AM – 29 Sep 2016

@nntaleb It is precisely because there is money that vultures will destroy Saudi Barbaria. @Jamal_A_Salem Permalink 2:49 AM – 29 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Thank you, the democratic system worked. Obama can be pre-bought by Saudi Barbaria, but we got enough.   Permalink 2:46 PM – 28 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Paternalistic IYI: “Av citizen doesn’t know where Syria is”. To be compatible w/democracy don’t drag them into smthg thy aren’t curious abt. Permalink 5:59 AM – 28 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Also to test regress, n low, do residuals on beta dist since error bounded [(x,(1-x))-, +] @sbelak @DrCirillo @Petronas865 @NateSilver538 Permalink 5:15 AM – 28 Sep 2016

@nntaleb If @DrCirillo says data looks “funny”, then consider that data looks funny. @Petronas865 @NateSilver538 Permalink 3:58 AM – 28 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Yes the graph shows too much noise. From this & other stuff Silver patently fails to refine signal from noise.   Permalink 3:32 AM – 28 Sep 2016

@nntaleb You can’t make this up. IYI ambassador to UN   Permalink 7:00 PM – 27 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Boris wants to swap UK for Turkey in EU.   Permalink 3:12 PM – 27 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Some results (with possible errors) for the Leiden paper. [Jet Lag, of course] Permalink 2:11 PM – 27 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Delenda Monsanto   Permalink 1:22 AM – 27 Sep 2016

@nntaleb *Most* Ancient Greeks ate meet only on festivals, after sacrificing to the gods, adding “most” for imbecile @davidgraeber nitpicking tweets Permalink 1:00 AM – 27 Sep 2016

@nntaleb My point is:limitation on meat eating in Greek Orthodoxy has *some* ancient origin, hence *some* forced Permalink 12:24 AM – 27 Sep 2016

@nntaleb David Graeber, if I call you imbecile, it is not without a reason. Permalink 11:55 PM – 26 Sep 2016

@night_review La dittatura delle minoranze: contro gli intolleranti ci vuole intolleranza, dice @nntaleb   Permalink 11:47 PM – 26 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Turned out @AmbassadorPower is wife of idiot @CassSunstein, protagonist of my piece on IYIs   Permalink 8:28 AM – 26 Sep 2016

@nntaleb History du jour: Shiism in Iran much earlier than Savafides, the 8th C. Khurramites mixed Shiism & Zoroastrianism.   Permalink 4:46 AM – 26 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Graeber is a LIAR. My point is that, empirically, an ACADEMIC job is not necessary to do #Antifragile @davidgraeber @Fedaykin98 Permalink 3:18 AM – 26 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Cor nitpickers, yes there were 4 male nonwaiters; ~10% Permalink 12:06 AM – 26 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Beirut restaurant: the only males are the Permalink 12:26 PM – 25 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Peter, @peterfrankopan beware: Al Arabiya is Saudi funded propaganda.   Permalink 2:59 AM – 25 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Indeed Obama is protecting al Qaeda in Syria. This & the veto are unexplainable… his sympathy for Jihadis…   Permalink 4:25 PM – 24 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Fat Tony attending a lecture.   Permalink 4:18 PM – 24 Sep 2016

@nntaleb A business school professor lecturing on finance is like Hillary Clinton lecturing on deadlifting. Permalink 3:07 PM – 24 Sep 2016

@MaxAbrahms Coincidentally, earlier today I taught a whole class on realism by contrasting it with Hillary’s foreign policies:   Permalink 12:04 PM – 24 Sep 2016

@nntaleb And the Companion Volume will be “Technical Incerto”. Permalink 7:09 AM – 24 Sep 2016

@nntaleb The Incerto finally became a single book. Don’t know when it will be Permalink 6:53 AM – 24 Sep 2016

@nntaleb La dittatura delle minoranze: Taleb mette in guardia dai rischi… contro gli intolleranti ci vuole intolleranza.   Permalink 3:27 AM – 24 Sep 2016

@nntaleb 10 old books feel very aged, out of place, out of sync. 200 year old books feel contemporary. 2000 year old bks feel fresh. #LindyEffect Permalink 6:02 PM – 23 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Mark, not complaining about the smear… I proved immune. I am complaining about showing me in an old picture! @CoachRippetoe @PennyKilkenny Permalink 5:46 PM – 23 Sep 2016

@nntaleb I don’t mind Monsanto’s smear campaign bt they show weightligting pics from 2015, before coaching by @CoachRippetoe!   Permalink 5:24 PM – 23 Sep 2016

@nntaleb I blocked @MehreenKhn who is both a Jihadi advocate & ….appears to works for the FT! BTW never engage Salafis. Just jail them. Permalink 4:55 PM – 23 Sep 2016

@nntaleb On way to Lebanon for a few days. I insist I feel safer than in Europe, as there is ZERO tolerance of Salafis. Zero. Permalink 1:55 PM – 23 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Me too.   Permalink 8:57 AM – 23 Sep 2016

@nntaleb “Airport Reading” you liar. Why are you lying, little parasite?   @florianederer @WGoetzmann Permalink 6:47 AM – 23 Sep 2016

@nntaleb He doesn’t pronounce 3ayn & 7et like natives & exaggerate diff Syriac-Aramaic. Hear the diff Permalink 7:18 PM – 22 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Small correction: Wstrn Syria spoke close to Galilean Aramaic; Syriac is Eastern. “Our Father” in Jewish Aramaic.   Permalink 6:37 PM – 22 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Shame. Shame.   Permalink 2:19 PM – 22 Sep 2016

@nntaleb I view science as a ruthless collision of originality & rigor; social science as the meeting of imitation & sloppiness. Permalink 9:39 AM – 22 Sep 2016

@nntaleb I view science as a ruthless collision of originality & rigor; (Much of social science fails on, not one, but both counts). Permalink 9:36 AM – 22 Sep 2016

@nntaleb I meant meat @drjasonfung @IDMProgram Permalink 9:32 AM – 22 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Ancient Greeks ate meet only on festivals, after sacrificing portion to the gods. Same for Semites. @drjasonfung @IDMProgram Permalink 7:23 AM – 22 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Just consider that carnivores have very stochastic intake compared to herbivores. @drjasonfung Permalink 5:57 AM – 22 Sep 2016

@nntaleb I suspect that under variability in protein intake, the required quantities drop   @drjasonfung @IDMProgram Permalink 5:54 AM – 22 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Imbecile, ALL my tweets autodelete every 5 months. @davidgraeber Permalink 4:58 AM – 22 Sep 2016

@nntaleb David Graeber @davidgraeber tries to disqualify me from discussion because I had wealthy ancestors. Institutionalized envy. @Fedaykin98 Permalink 3:12 PM – 21 Sep 2016

@nntaleb إذا أتتك مذمتي من ناقص فهي الشهادة لي بأني كامل: Mutanabbi @funtime_bobby Permalink 2:08 PM – 21 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Doorman calls you arrogant: you are an a**hole. Academic IYI calls you arrogant: certifies he can’t debunk your work   Permalink 2:04 PM – 21 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Indeed. There are 650 pages (including this) in Antifragile, its topic. @funtime_bobby @EmanuelDerman @R_Thaler @cdipaola62 @CassSunstein Permalink 1:14 PM – 21 Sep 2016

@nntaleb To put it in their terms,on top of other pbms, we are showing their “normative” (benchmarks) are fundamentally wrong   Permalink 12:38 PM – 21 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Is it me or Monsanto is trading as if the deal had ~20% chances of failing? Permalink 10:37 AM – 21 Sep 2016

@nntaleb … Which explains the bias-variance problem: 538 is noisy (and biased) the other is less noisy but more biased. Permalink 10:13 AM – 21 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Predictwise is high for H but his updating is consistent & seems >rigorous vs statisticophaster @FIveTHirtyEight   Permalink 8:17 AM – 21 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Our paper “Expected Shortfall Estimation for Apparently Infinite-Mean Models of Operational Risk” now in print.   Permalink 4:44 AM – 21 Sep 2016

@nntaleb The @FiveThirtyEight unrigorous dynamic updating & how it should be: the outer blue line is how not to change Permalink 4:41 AM – 21 Sep 2016

@nntaleb This is why Silver is ignorant of probability.   Permalink 7:08 PM – 20 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Ha! Round turn. Trump 48%? @FiveThirtyEight proved again a few weeks later CLUELESS abt dynamics of probability.   Permalink 7:05 PM – 20 Sep 2016

@nntaleb This is pure nonsense, statistically.   Permalink 1:06 PM – 20 Sep 2016

@nntaleb New edition of Procrustes, 50% longer. But, for Baal’s sake, shd only be read by pple who know what an aphorism is.   Permalink 6:25 AM – 20 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Cheap tawk: Apologies never exist. You pay: money tawks and BS walks.   Permalink 5:58 AM – 20 Sep 2016

@nntaleb A page frm @peterfrankopan that justifies my doubts w/@dottorpax about historical casualties, exaggerated for Permalink 5:09 AM – 20 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Could the Maaloula Aramaic “Baddak” come from same root as “David” DWD (B-widdak => “You would like?”) ? Permalink 5:01 AM – 20 Sep 2016

@nntaleb 2/”Doesn’t even know the difference between Hecate and Hecuba”:Search for “Hecuba” jumps every pub of my piece(3 x) Permalink 11:33 AM – 19 Sep 2016

@nntaleb From reactions to piece, discovered the IYI can’t tell the satirical from the literal. Permalink 11:15 AM – 19 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Lobbying is much, much cheaper than advertising or R&D to improve product, & has great payoff. Lobbying is immoral.   Permalink 8:30 AM – 19 Sep 2016

@nntaleb From my scratchpad: Beware of Richard Thaler’s results. Beware. @EmanuelDerman @R_Thaler @cdipaola62 Permalink 3:02 PM – 18 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Nestlé Just Suffered a Major Defeat as Community Blocks Water Privatization   Permalink 11:24 AM – 18 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Aramaic du jour: Baddak in Levantine doesn’t seem to come from Arabic but Aramaic; Ma3loula Western Permalink 9:37 AM – 18 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Via negativa   Permalink 9:24 AM – 18 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Like prevent GMO labeling & steer choices? How long can these psychosophasters manage to fool us?   Permalink 4:54 AM – 18 Sep 2016

@nntaleb I grew up w/Jesuits & @R_Thaler is amateur in casuistry.(Changed txt to “=deviation frm desired/prescribed protocol)   Permalink 2:08 PM – 17 Sep 2016

@bparispoker @nntaleb my belated apologies to @SenSanders and @TimReillyPoker for being an IYI on GMO’s a couple months back Permalink 7:42 AM – 17 Sep 2016

@nntaleb “The Intellectual Yet Idiot” Added The IYI has been wrong on Stalinism, GMOs, Iraq, Libya, Syria, lobotomies,   Permalink 5:35 AM – 17 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Problem du jour: find general form from sequence for \alpha ={1,2,…,n} Permalink 3:48 AM – 17 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Max is good. Very good.   Permalink 2:38 PM – 16 Sep 2016

@nntaleb I thank @DrCirillo & others for 4-d depth into Extreme Tails w/ pioneers: de Haan,Balkema,Huesler,Eimahl, & chance to discuss my 2 papers. Permalink 2:05 PM – 16 Sep 2016

@alexcmeyer The best technology is the one you don’t even know is there. @nntaleb hits it on the Permalink 10:51 AM – 16 Sep 2016

@nntaleb I am on a plane deriving guilty pleasure reading comments by IYIs (Intellectual Yet Idiots) on the piece abt IYIs.   Permalink 10:54 AM – 16 Sep 2016

@nntaleb I just published “The Intellectual Yet Idiot”   Permalink 7:36 AM – 16 Sep 2016

@nntaleb The ideological and financial roots of Jihadi terrorism are in Saudi Barbaria.   Permalink 5:34 AM – 16 Sep 2016

@nntaleb The agro lobby is explicitly targeting researchers. Destroy the lives of lobbyists!   Permalink 3:27 AM – 16 Sep 2016

@nntaleb ימח שמו וזכרו @GhassanDahhan يمحي اسموا و زكروا Permalink 3:23 AM – 16 Sep 2016

@nntaleb You should only hit terrorism when the aim is eradication, not mitigation; otherwise they get stronger.   Permalink 12:59 AM – 16 Sep 2016

@nntaleb If I know something about mergers, it is that they kill the companies, both the acquirer and the acquired.   Permalink 7:30 AM – 15 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Our turn to make them pay,@thackerpd, w/dividend. Revenge is to be eaten cold. Will help you get shill @keithkloor for the rest of his life. Permalink 2:06 PM – 14 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Voila: The beginning of the end for GMOs. If you have to shill so much, something is wrong.   Permalink 1:55 PM – 14 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Put on 15lbs weightlifting .   Permalink 7:43 AM – 14 Sep 2016

@DrCirillo #ERHD Workshop Day 3. Einmahl, Taleb @nntaleb and the statistics of extremes. Permalink 11:46 PM – 13 Sep 2016

@nntaleb It is as irrational to reject all conspiracy theories as it is to accept them. Permalink 2:13 PM – 13 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Better picture as @DrCirillo the organizer was hidden in the previous Permalink 1:57 PM – 13 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Trappist “blond” beer Affligem, something else, 1000 years Permalink 10:45 AM – 13 Sep 2016

@nntaleb 70% of the Extreme Value mathematics flaneuring in Leiden by a canal. De Haan asked: “who are the other 30%?” Permalink 10:12 AM – 13 Sep 2016

@BowenBBC Father Elias Adass, Maronite priest in Aleppo Old City stands in ruins of his church, destroyed by rebel Permalink 8:27 AM – 13 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Balkema and de Haan, pillars of Extreme Value Theory, chatting at the Leiden workshop. Permalink 3:13 AM – 13 Sep 2016

@nntaleb This explains why I call her Hillary Monsanto-Malmaison, now AlSaud-Malmaison.âteau_de_Malmaison   Permalink 2:43 AM – 13 Sep 2016

@singularityunl Borrowing a concept from @nntaleb, @carlovdweijer tells us about the #futureofmobility at Permalink 1:20 AM – 13 Sep 2016

@nntaleb The dirtiest man: @henryimiller a failed scientist you can hire to defame scientists.   Permalink 5:08 PM – 12 Sep 2016

@nntaleb The classical idea is to build mental, physical & moral fortitude to face the world #Antifragile Modern one is to change it technologically. Permalink 4:05 PM – 12 Sep 2016

IYI, Minority Rule, Tawk, Lindy Effect, 21, Academia, Dumb Enemies, Salafism | Facebook

[New Version] 9/16/16
The Intellectual Yet Idiot


 It is as irrational to reject all conspiracy theories as it is to accept them. 9/13/16


The classical idea is to build mental capacity, physical strength, and moral fortitude to face the world (Antifragile).

The modern one is to technologically change the world. 9/12/16

———————————————————————…/where-you-cannot-generalize-from-knowl… 9/11/16
Where You Cannot Generalize from Knowledge of Parts (continuation of the Minority Rule)



There is this formidable scene in the Godfather when the Hollywood executive wakes up with a dead horse in his bed. It was a threat, and not an empty threat.

Threats reveal weakness, except when they are real. The method of conveying real threats was perfected by the sect of the Assassins, an 11th-14th C. sect that specialized in political assassination (they always spared civilians and people who were not directly targeted). Just as with the Godfather scene, legend has it that the head of an army moving against them woke up to find a dagger and a message near his head. It was a “recommendation” to stop the war (he promptly took the advice). They could have killed him, but they were too strong for that and proved it. They supposedly did the same with Saladin, informing him that the cake he was about to eat was poisoned… by them.

The Assassins were often associated with the Templars as they fought frequently on the side of the crusaders –they were part of a branch of Shiite Islam that was violently anti-Sunni.

The method of putting skin-in-the-game in political leaders started with the sicarii who used similar method of targeted assassination by means of a dagger (as opposed to the sword which entails battles).

They were exactly the opposite of Salafi terrorists: as I said, they killed leaders, not civilians, hence unlike wars their methods focusing on precision avoid the civilian “colateral damage”. Comparisons with Jihadis get it backward: they were targeted (Salafis are not discriminating, going after anything that moves, even their own). Much of what we read about the Assassins can be smear by their enemies (including their name linked to Hashish).

And the dagger-near-the-pillow scene is signaling at its best: the most effective way to deal with an enemy is to prove to him that you own him. You are so strong that you keep him alive.



The New York Municipality has been trying for 70 years to change 6th Avenue to “Avenue of the Americas”, unsuccessfully.

Place names are sticky, we should be able to get back 6000 year old languages… from the names. Or the timing of the settlement. I speculate that the placename is likely to correspond to the time of the first settlement and sticks throughout. Cartagena in Spain was a Carthaginian settlement (itself from Kart-7adash). All villages in the Levant bear either ancient Semitic (Canaanite or Aramaic) or Greek names (“Kfar-something”, “Beit-something”). It is when a new settlement is made, such as Laodikeia (during the Seleucids, 3-4th C BC) that a new name appears, or when one part near a small town is rebuilt as a government center such as Caesarea. When the Romans give a placename, it is usually a corruption of the originial: Berytus to Beirut (small well in Canaanite), Apamea from 7ama (though it is not in the same location), etc.

Now let us speculate. Knossos, the Minoan center, maps most certainly to to a Semitic root (meaning gathering, like Knesseth, Knisse, etc.), so I conjecture whether Linear B=>Canaanite or reverse.

I also speculate that there is a deep connection of pre-Canaanite for my ancestral village Amioun: 3am Yawan “the Ionian people’s settlement” in Canaanite (we have same genes and genetic diseases as Cretans).

And Marseilles, in France, while its inhabitants claim a Phocaean origin (Greeks of Asia Minor), makes me suspect a Phoenician connection, since “Marsa” means port in Canaanite and a nearby hilltop village is called Ramatuelle, from “Ramat El”, Hill of God, which is certainly Phoenician placename.


The more you use a metric (“metrify”), the more you will compare yourself to others.

The more you compare yourself to others, whether favorably or unfavorably, the worse off you will be.

(This continues the odometer story). 9/4/16


Someone I know refrained from riding his bicycle because the odometer was broken. He felt that his cycling didn’t count towards his “goal”.

This is what happens with systems that becomes “modernized”. 9/2/16


By the Lindy Effect, you should know 20 times more about history of the past 2000 years than that of the past 100 years.

In fact, not only most people know more about the past 100 years, but they knew even more about the past 100 days.

Further, history is not geopolitics (who met whom) or wars, but an understanding of what people used, ate, produced, thought, and argued about. 9/1/16

Found the picture of my 21y old self that I mentioned in the commencement address. 8/28/16…/commencement-address-american-universi…


Academia is (nearly) zero-sum: every position, honor, promotion, rank, and reward is taken from someone else.

Business on the other hand creates business.

That’s the only career advice I feel compelled to give. 8/28/16


 Anger is privilege for the strong, duty for the righteous, and self-harm for the weak. 8/23/16


I speculate that the constant internecine and tribal fights in the absence of external dangers made armies stronger. Which is perhaps why the Greek city states were able to fend off the Persian attacks, but Egypt, with its central order, fell apart when Western Asians came down to invade.

This applies to all scales: Sicilians, Maronites, Cretans, and Corsican families, with their culture of vendetta, fight one another when they run out of enemies. 8/19/16


Dumb enemies are a problem as they can be very hard to predict. 8/19/16


Those who say “I feel sorry for you” mean “I feel envy”. Those who really feel sorry for you don’t say anything. 8/17/16


Refine your mind, keep avoiding BS vendors, journos, & statistical noise to the point when logical flaws and nonsense sound like a jarring notes to a musical ear in a middle of a concert. 8/16/16


The more ritualistic your business life is, the more likely you are to go out of business. Many people just go to the office to go to the office, partake of the rituals of the office, get coffee from the coffee machine, then return home. Some, in order to fill the alloted time, partake of something very structured commonly called a meeting.

So, if you are self employed, the discipline is to be in your office if and only if you have something very, very specific to do. If you are employed, the same works indirectly: the more ritualistic your function, the more probable is your eventual redundancy.

There is another dimension: noise. The shorter the time-scale of information, the more noise you will be getting in the office (or online), relative to the signal. Reducing the physical presence is protective in that sense. 5/15/16


The Most Intolerant Wins 8/14/16…/the-most-intolerant-wins-the-dictators

[Trying a new venue to post chapters. ]


In every undertaking, the more humans try to be demi-gods, the more they become half-monsters 8/13/16



There used to be a distinction between an athlete representing virtus (human-ness*) and ἀρετή (the quality of being what you are made to be) on one hand, and, on the other the circus acrobat selling uniqueness and deformity. Mediterranean ideals, as opposed to the Egypto-Babylonian ones, were about scale and balance: even the Gods were brought down to human scale. (Yet homines sumus, non dei: we are men, not gods)

Today’s Olympics, by dint of specialization and overoptimization, thanks to the media and the huge financing involved, have transformed the athlete into a circus acrobat, a mutant selling deformities.

Let me insist: anything overoptimized, or even barely optimized, is no longer human.

Hominem te esse memento!

* manliness in PC terms.


I never imagined that, in 2016, people selfdefined on the “left” would be in favor of repression, censorship, cronyism, Monsantoism, lobbies, elitism, military interventionsim, and … Salafism ! 8/11/16


That Thing We Call Religion [SKIN IN THE GAME] 8/5/16

The problem of the verbalistic (and the journalistic) is expressed in an aphorism earlier in the Incerto: mathematicians think in (well precisely defined and mapped) objects, philosophers in concepts, jurists in constructs, logicians in operators (…), and idiots in words. We saw that risk and tail risk are mathematically separate objects, conflated by the IYI (intellectual yet idiot) crowd. Two people can be using the same word, meaning different things, yet continue the conversation, which is fine for coffee, but not when making decisions, particularly policy decisions affecting others. But it is easy to trip them, as Socrates did, simply by asking them what they mean by what they said –hence philosophy was born as rigor in discourse and disentanglement of mixed up notions, in precise opposition to the sophist’s promotion of rhetoric. But, since Socrates we have had a long tradition of mathematical science and contract law driven by precision in mapping terms. But we also have had many pronouncements by idiots using labels.

People rarely mean the same thing when they say “religion”, nor do they realize that they don’t mean the same thing. For early Jews and Muslims, religion was law. Din means law in Hebrew and religion in Arabic. For early Jews, religion was also tribal; for early Muslims, it was universal. For the Romans, religion was social events, rituals, and festivals –the word religio was opposition to superstitio, and while present in the Roman zeitgeist had no equivalent concept in the Greek-Byzantine East . Law was procedurally and mechanically its own thing, and early Christianity, thanks to Saint Augustine, stayed relatively away from the law, and, later, remembering its foundations, had an uneasy relation with it. The difference is marked in that Christian Aramaic uses a different word: din for religion and nomous (from the Greek) for law. Jesus, with his imperative “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar”, separated the holy and the profane: Christianity was for another domain, “the kingdom to come”, only merged with this one in the eschaton. Neither Islam nor Judaism have a marked separation between holy and profane. And of course Christianity moved away from the solely-spiritual domain to embrace the ceremonial and ritualistic, integrating much of the pagan rites of the Levant and Asia Minor.

For Jews today, religion became ethnocultural, without the law –and for many, a nation. Same for Syriacs, Chaldeans, Armenians, Copts, and Maronites. For Orthodox and Catholic Christians religion is aesthetics, pomp and rituals. For Protestants, religion is belief with no aesthetics, pomp or law. Further East, for Buddhists, Shintoists and Hindus, religion is practical and spiritual philosophy, with a code of ethics (and for some, cosmogony). So when Hindu talk about the Hindu “religion” they don’t mean the same thing to a Pakistani as it would to a Hindu, and certainly something different for a Persian.

When the nation-state idea came about, things got more, much more complicated. When an Arab now says “Jew” he largely means something about a creed; to Arabs, a converted Jew is no longer a Jew. But for a Jew, a Jew is someone whose mother is a Jew. But it somewhat merged into nation-state and now means a nation.

In Serbia-Croatia and Lebanon, religion means something at times of peace, and something quite different at times of war.

When someone discusses the “Christian minority” in the Levant, it doesn’t mean (as Arabs tend to think) promoting a Christian theocracy (full theocracies were very few in Christian history, just Byzantium and a short attempt by Calvin). He just means “secular” or wants a marked separation of church and state. Same for the gnostics (Druids, Druze, Mandeans, Alawis).

The problem with the European Union is that the naive IYI bureaucrats (these idiots who can’t find a coconut on Coconut island) are fooled by the label. They treat Salafism as just a religion –with its houses of “worship”—when in fact it is just an intolerant political system, which promotes (or allows) violence and refuses the institutions of the West –those that allow them to operate. As we saw with the minority rule, the intolerant will run over the tolerant; cancer requires being stopped before it becomes metastatic.

We will see in the next chapter that “belief” can be epistemic, or simply procedural (pisteic) –leading to confusions about what sort of beliefs, are religious beliefs and which ones are not, disentangled through signaling. For, on top of the “religion” problem, there is a problem with belief. Some beliefs are largely decorative , some are functional (they help in survival); others are literal. And to revert to our metastatic Salafi problem: when one of these fundamentalists talks to a Christian, he is convinced that the Christian is literal, while the Christian is convinced that the Salafi has the same oft-metaphorical concepts to be taken seriously but not literally –and, often, not very seriously. Religions, such as Christianity, Judaism, and, to some extent Shiite Islam, evolved (or let their members evolve in developing a sophisticated society) precisely by moving away from the literal –in addition to the functional aspect of the metaphorical, the literal doesn’t leave any room for adaptation .

PS We classicists can invoke Graeco-Roman ethics, that is, virtue ethics, and claim wisdom of the ancestors, or distillation of 3000 years of Mediterranean wisdom and benefit from the Lindy effect. The Salafis are trying the same thing (Salafi means ancestral) –and failing to do anything … actually going backward as we keep advancing. Why? Because Graeco-Roman ethics was never literal, but about principles


Nassim Taleb Exposes The World’s “Intellectual-Yet-Idiot” Class | Zero Hedge

Full article: Nassim Taleb Exposes The World’s “Intellectual-Yet-Idiot” Class

Indeed one can see that these academico-bureaucrats wanting to run our lives aren’t even rigorous, whether in medical statistics or policymaking. They cant tell science from scientism?—?in fact in their eyes scientism looks more scientific than real science. (For instance it is trivial to show the following: much of what the Cass-Sunstein-Richard Thaler types?—?those who want to “nudge” us into some behavior?—?much of what they call “rational” or “irrational” comes from their misunderstanding of probability theory and cosmetic use of first-order models.) They are prone to mistake the ensemble for the linear aggregation of its components as we saw in the chapter extending the minority rule.

Saudi Barbaria, Sunstein, B Quant Seminar, Erdogan, Salafism, FiveThirtyEight, Pareto 80/20 | Twitter

Papers/articles by NNT  linked to in this tweet batch.
Where You Cannot Generalize from Knowledge of Parts (continuation of the Minority Rule)Stochastic Tail Exponent For Asymmetric Power Laws (pdf)

@nntaleb .@Nvania You are welcome to go follow and lecture someone else. There are a lot of journos on twitter. Permalink 3:27 PM – 11 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Coordinator for the defamation of Seralini, Henry I Miller,in charge of smearing me.4 articles. F**you money works   Permalink 2:42 PM – 11 Sep 2016

@nntaleb The right way to look at probability: how many 70 yo people w/heat strokes in % in East Coast today?   Permalink 2:19 PM – 11 Sep 2016

@nntaleb 2/ The other piece of evidence is that the bodyguards who caught Hillary Monsanto-AlSaud did not deadlift, or if they did, < 180 combined. Permalink 2:17 PM – 11 Sep 2016

@nntaleb The 3-5 daily prayers are Semitic: Judaism, Islam & early Christianity. Sa7ar both Hebrew 7 Arabic   @vyoman @trscbrs Permalink 2:10 PM – 11 Sep 2016

@nntaleb This additional “nonhealth event” for Hillary Monsanto-Malmaison makes the probability that “nothing is wrong” less than 1/10,000. Finito. Permalink 2:06 PM – 11 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Thank you, Saudi Barbaria.   Permalink 3:27 AM – 11 Sep 2016

@nntaleb “Empirical” analyses = naive interpolation, Pinker-style, exactly what is not empirical.   Permalink 3:24 AM – 11 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Just published “Where You Cannot Generalize from Knowledge of Parts (continuation of the Minority Rule)”   Permalink 2:52 AM – 11 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Cialdini put me off w “scientific” abt psychology results to dress up #marketing. Psych not solid.   @ScottAdamsSays Permalink 1:45 AM – 11 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Lebanon: Discrimination against veils (later denied which in Lebanese means “confirmed”) Permalink 1:33 AM – 11 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Serendipitous Theology du Jour: the Zoroastrians had 101 names for Ahura Mazda, the Arabs 99 names of God. Similar.   Permalink 3:48 PM – 10 Sep 2016

@nntaleb We have to do something about Saudi Barbaria.   Permalink 3:26 PM – 10 Sep 2016

@zerohedge The War Economy: CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Warns About Job Loss If US Stops Arming Saudi Arabia   Permalink 5:01 PM – 9 Sep 2016

@leenur @nntaleb come to visit #Kazan. Our Islam allows churches next to Permalink 1:27 PM – 9 Sep 2016

@nntaleb This article explains AntiFragility & problem of Syria   @gjbejjani @EHSANI22 Permalink 6:22 AM – 9 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Twitter, Did the agreement to streamline Russian visas for US citizens get stalled? Permalink 5:38 AM – 9 Sep 2016

@nntaleb On my way to Leiden (via Leb) to present 3 papers on tails at @DrCirillo ‘s conference on extremes.   Permalink 6:58 PM – 8 Sep 2016

@nntaleb IYI (Intellectual Yet Idiots) treat rest of population as idiots needing their supervision, upset when revealed as idiots! @swensn @PTetlock Permalink 10:31 AM – 7 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Levantine du jour: duplication, marriage, husb JawZe (from Aramaic) not Zawje (Arabic) from ‘Gawz =nut, Permalink 6:38 AM – 7 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Easy to understand the Putin-Erdogan connection when one is 1) Orthodox, 2) have Ottoman citizens ancestors (incl grandparents) for 439 y. Permalink 5:53 PM – 6 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Up until around Lepanto the Ottoman Empire was a weak continuation of the Byzantine/Eastern Roman Empire. Agree?   Permalink 5:25 PM – 6 Sep 2016

@nntaleb You ned to realize that municipal decentralization is compatible with centralized military: Switzerland, USA,Roman/Ottoman Empires@EHSANI22 Permalink 3:42 PM – 6 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Should I follow instructions (oranges) or treat it as some legal disclaimer? Permalink 1:59 PM – 6 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Thanks, made the statement more precise: Infinity Shminfinity Permalink 11:17 AM – 6 Sep 2016

@nntaleb While I gladly take corrections on dentistry by dentists, out of disrespect, I pay no attention to psychologists. Kapish? @MurphPsych Permalink 11:05 AM – 6 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Sunstein is a BS vendor & psychologists too cluless to tell. Sadder fact to tell Tetlock to lay low on twitter. @Pseudoplotinus @PTetlock Permalink 10:20 AM – 6 Sep 2016

@nntaleb My 2 talks. One more technical, one more central for life: (debunking idiots like Sunstein)   Permalink 8:12 AM – 6 Sep 2016

@nntaleb “Reductionist” often used by people (IYI) incapable by separating the necessary from the reduced. @SimaDiab @EHSANI22 Permalink 6:43 AM – 6 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Practicing Calabrez for 23 Permalink 6:33 AM – 6 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Syria’s old problem has been Baathist centralization (#Antifragile). Simple re-municipalization removes the pressure. @SimaDiab @EHSANI22 Permalink 5:30 AM – 6 Sep 2016

@nntaleb My first talk today at the B Quant Seminar: “There is no such thing as infinity in the Real World”.   Permalink 4:36 AM – 6 Sep 2016

@nntaleb The presidential debate will be …. interesting   Permalink 7:12 PM – 5 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Erdogan has the dream of every boss: loved by a majority, feared by the unanimity. Permalink 10:20 AM – 5 Sep 2016

@nntaleb What strikes me abt academics is that they keep comparing themselves to others. Permalink 6:45 AM – 5 Sep 2016

@nntaleb The reality is that, while “analysts” & tawkingheads are barking, Erdogan is extremely popular in Turkey. So far.   Permalink 11:40 AM – 4 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Quants are invited to my Tuesday talk “Mathematical Foundations of Precaution”, BBG, with reception (wine).   Permalink 10:42 AM – 4 Sep 2016

@nntaleb I am not writing Italian, but 1920s Kalabrez (Galabrez), a language some people call Calabrese, & Cavour assumed was Arabic. @jacopogio Permalink 11:47 AM – 3 Sep 2016

@nntaleb 2) and we can observe the volatility much more than the underlying. @rroyji @FiveThirtyEight Permalink 11:32 AM – 3 Sep 2016

@nntaleb For an option volatility often matters much, much more than underlying. @rroyji @FiveThirtyEight Permalink 11:26 AM – 3 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Posted paper on SSRN   Permalink 11:17 AM – 3 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Simply an option has “time value” function of vol. For a binary, TV pushes it away from 1 or 0, closer to .5 Kapish?   Permalink 11:00 AM – 3 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Who are you trying to fool? Saudi Barbaria recently beheaded a Shiite cleric. @luhidan7777 @Leb12er Permalink 7:05 AM – 3 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Western Govs realize A) Salafis are bad & B)Saudi Barbaria is Salafi; but these idiots proved unable to connect A&B.   Permalink 6:43 AM – 3 Sep 2016

@nntaleb This is Goooooooold. The prayer in Mecca to eradicate Shiites, Christians, and Jews. Who is Saudi Barbaria fooling?   Permalink 6:20 AM – 3 Sep 2016

@nntaleb There was never many Christians in “Middle East”, almost only in Near-East (Eastern Med) and Northern Mesopotamia.   Permalink 6:16 AM – 3 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Talmud Bavli in… Arabic 20- volume Permalink 5:01 AM – 3 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Damascenes (and other Urban Syrians) look Greek.   Permalink 2:08 PM – 2 Sep 2016

@nntaleb The odometer was broken, so he refrained from riding his bicycle. His cycling didn’t count towards his “goal”. “Modernized” systems metrify. Permalink 4:45 AM – 2 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Actually, just realized, *pirated* version in Italian! Permalink 4:41 AM – 2 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Minority Rule in Italiano I più intolleranti vincono sempre: la dittatura della minoranza   Permalink 4:40 AM – 2 Sep 2016

@nntaleb The ratio male/female hurricanes is monstrously random, Maestro Marco, Permalink 6:32 PM – 1 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Mediocristan, sub-Mediocristan because bounded. @nalinmoniz @FiveThirtyEight Permalink 6:23 PM – 1 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Maestro Marco @MAvellaneda55 This is BS, Pinker Style,(i.e. BS a la @sapinker). Affaire Permalink 6:15 PM – 1 Sep 2016

@MaxAbrahms Al Qaeda Is Gaining Strength in Syria   I’ve predicted this outcome from Day 1 because a semblance of moderation pays. Permalink 5:06 PM – 1 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Point is “how common is it to have both?” in % of 2nd condition not just if possible.   Permalink 12:21 PM – 1 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Medical Quandaries: Can one have both low resting heart beat & hypertension low RHB & CVD? low RHB & insulin resist L RHB & metabolic s? Permalink 12:16 PM – 1 Sep 2016

@nntaleb How to price an election [DRAFT]; why @FiveThirtyEight should engage in some other business than Permalink 8:39 AM – 1 Sep 2016

@nntaleb Whaaaaaaat? Donald Trump went to Mexico?   Permalink 5:44 PM – 31 Aug 2016

@GhassanDahhan Sometimes I miss the good old days when neo-conservative think tanks were called ‘neo-conservative think tanks’ instead of ‘non-partisan’. Permalink 12:52 PM – 31 Aug 2016

@nntaleb Our GMO discussion is here (updated)   Permalink 6:04 AM – 31 Aug 2016

@nntaleb Llewelyn, @Charles_Lister is a fraud. @llewelyn_morgan Permalink 5:49 AM – 31 Aug 2016

@nntaleb Went from: IYIs (Intellectuals Yet Idiots) support GMOs to Those who support GMOs are IYIs. Why? IYIs can’t tell scientism from science. Permalink 5:47 AM – 31 Aug 2016

@nntaleb Christians in Syria. Those Shillary wants to ethnically cleanse for the benefit of Saudi Barbaria.   Permalink 4:41 AM – 31 Aug 2016

@nntaleb Lindy effect   Permalink 4:37 AM – 31 Aug 2016

@nntaleb 6:30 but never Permalink 3:43 PM – 30 Aug 2016

@RonPaulInstitut The Real US Syria Scandal: Supporting Sectarian War   Permalink 12:38 PM – 30 Aug 2016

@nntaleb Redoing: What fits best for an IYI? Permalink 12:40 PM – 30 Aug 2016

@nntaleb Worth learning Arabic just to read comment by Wahabis upset w/Putin’s conference promoting tolerant CentAsian/Ottoman Sunnism #مؤتمر_الشيشان Permalink 11:35 AM – 30 Aug 2016

@nntaleb What fits best for an IYI? Permalink 11:20 AM – 30 Aug 2016

@nntaleb The IYI (intellectual yet idiot) class are like English or psych majors arguing with speaker in advanced mathematics seminar. #Notevenwrong Permalink 7:08 AM – 30 Aug 2016

@nntaleb Bingo! @han0z @zerohedge Here is the Permalink 6:15 AM – 30 Aug 2016

@nntaleb Just published thanks to comments by Maestro @MAvellaneda55 “Stochastic Tail Exponent For Asymmetric Power Laws”   Permalink 5:56 AM – 30 Aug 2016

@nntaleb ANNONCE: Je cherche a publier mon article sur la dictature des minorités en France. Merci d’avance.   Permalink 3:31 AM – 30 Aug 2016

@nntaleb Half of America owns 1% of America’s wealth => Pareto 80/20 (same inequality Pareto found in land ownership in Italy late 19th C) @zerohedge Permalink 7:30 PM – 29 Aug 2016

@nntaleb Quiz du jour: What is the tail exponent of the distribution, assuming it is power law (it is)?   Permalink 5:52 PM – 29 Aug 2016

@nntaleb If one 1) is a libertarian & 2) Believes SHillary is ill Then shouldn’t one voting for someone incapacitated?   Permalink 5:25 PM – 29 Aug 2016

@nntaleb Obvious thing: to remove Salafis from Sunnism & revert to 1950s tolerant Sunnism. With #مؤتمر_الشيشان that’s what Putin is doing! Brilliant! Permalink 5:16 PM – 29 Aug 2016

@nntaleb Working with @DrCirillo on stats of violence we discovered media reports to be unreliable& pple unaware of it.   Permalink 3:16 PM – 29 Aug 2016

@nntaleb It is *precisely* because companies fit products to weirdest buyers that we have the rule.   Permalink 1:16 PM – 29 Aug 2016

@nntaleb Why you can never trust employees to make the ethical decisions.   Permalink 8:19 AM – 29 Aug 2016

@nntaleb Is it me or … nobody is noticing that the movement for nonSalafi Sunnism #مؤتمر_الشيشان is happening in… Russia! @aboabid @trscbrs Permalink 6:35 AM – 29 Aug 2016

@nntaleb 5/ Further difference betw academia and real life: Others will envy you for your knowledge less than they would for your credentials. Permalink 6:32 AM – 29 Aug 2016

@nntaleb So if Ashaari is the “real” Sunni Islam, we go back to the Ottoman brand, much much more tolerant @aboabid @trscbrs   Permalink 5:54 AM – 29 Aug 2016

@nntaleb Torn My focus shoud be for 2017 + Finishing Skin in the Game or + Deadlifting 440 lbs (slowed by 2 lifting injuries) Permalink 1:47 PM – 28 Aug 2016

@nntaleb Salafism Isn’t Really a Religion   via @CommittingSociology Permalink 12:37 PM – 28 Aug 2016

@nntaleb Bethlehem was in Judea the idea of linking Jesus to Nazareth (INRI on the cross) was to emphasize his non Judean side @MrNathanRollins Permalink 11:23 AM – 28 Aug 2016

@nntaleb 4/ Tweets triggered by draft of bio of math/trader Ed Thorp who said his most difficult job ever was head of math department at UC Irvine. Permalink 8:03 AM – 28 Aug 2016

@naval Politics, academia and social status are all zero-sum games. Positive-sum games create positive people.   Permalink 7:32 AM – 28 Aug 2016

@nntaleb Eastern Med was part of Rome as world was Med/nonMed and separation Europe came later post Islam   Permalink 7:10 AM – 28 Aug 2016

@nntaleb I tend to block pple who fail to get “~” (approx) means “not always true” and corrupt the conversation on twitter.   Permalink 7:00 AM – 28 Aug 2016

@nntaleb 3/ The probability of getting a “tenure track” position for a new PhD has been getting closer & closer to 0. Permalink 6:01 AM – 28 Aug 2016

@nntaleb 2/ You can tell people who come from countries w/rent seeking; they think that business is zero-sum: wealth is money taken from others. Permalink 5:23 AM – 28 Aug 2016

@nntaleb Academia is ~ zero-sum: every position/honor/promotion/rank/reward is taken from someone else. Business on the other hand creates business. Permalink 5:02 AM – 28 Aug 2016

@QuintusCurtius Clinton ally Saudi Arabia deports 27 Lebanese Christians just for owning books. Is western media reporting this? No   Permalink 4:17 PM – 27 Aug 2016

@seanrateck1 @beachvetlbc @cecilbadlands @wizardQi @RyEichler @YouTube Permalink 12:46 PM – 27 Aug 2016

@nntaleb Improved on my paper on power laws thanks to the great maestro Permalink 1:10 PM – 27 Aug 2016

@jelo1317 The #GMO debate. One student’s experience of pro-GMO #Propaganda @Cornell University Permalink 12:51 PM – 23 Aug 2016