Tag Archives: Data

Celibacy, Data, Inequality and Wealth, Kilkenomics

Imagine working for a corporation that produces secret harm to the collective, in hiding cancer-causing risk which kills the thousands but is not (yet) fully visible. You can alert the public, but would automatically lose your job and there is a gamble that the company’s evil scientists would disprove you, causing additional humiliation. You know the history of whisteblowers and realize that, even if you end up vindicated, it may take time for the truth to emerge over the noise created by corporate shills. You have nine children, a sick parent, and as a result of the stand, the children’s future is compromised. College hopes are gone. You feel severely conflicted between the harm to the collective and guilt from harm to your progeny. Thousands are dying from the hidden poisoining by the corporation. You would like to be a hero but it comes at a huge cost.

Society likes saints and moral heroes to be celibate so they do not have family pressures and be forced into dilemmas of needing to compromise their sense of ethics to feed their children. Some martyrs like Socrates had young children (although he was in his seventies), and overcame the dilemma at their expense. Many can’t.

The fact that people with families are vulnerable has been remarkably exploited in history. The Samurai had to leave their families in Edo as hostages, thus guaranteeing to the authorities that they would not take positions against the rulers. The Romans and Huns partook of the practice of trading permanent “visitors”, the children of rulers on both sides who grew up at the courts of the foreign nation in a form of gilded captivity. The Ottomans relied on janissaries who were extracted as babies from Christian families and, having no family (or no contact with their family), were entirely devoted to the Sultan.





In the more rural past, wealthy people were not as exposed to other persons of their class. They didn’t have the pressure to keep up with other wealthy persons and compete with them. The wealthy stayed within their region, surrounded with people who depended on them, say a Lord on his property. Except for the occasional season in the cities, their social life was quite vertical.
It is in mercantile urban environments that socializing within social class took place. And, over time, with industrialization the rich started moving to cities or suburbs surrounded with other people of similar –but not very similar –condition. Hence they needed to keep up with each other, racing on a treadmill.




Thanks @Kilkenomics. Only economics conference without uptight and constipated technocrats. https://t.co/TBxSz2izs5
— NassimNicholasTaleb (@nntaleb) November 10, 2015

Fascinating talk on #BlackSwan #antifragile @nntaleb – great to meet you @kilkenomics – great insights @davidmcw pic.twitter.com/LIbzXnGjm6— Shauna O’Boyle (@Shaunaob) November 10, 2015

Jotted down at Kilkenomics why neuroscience, evolutionary theory, behavioral econ, genetics, etc. are full of BS https://t.co/DZhn9cEkh4— NassimNicholasTaleb (@nntaleb) November 9, 2015

Enthralled by @peterfrankopan ‘s book The Silk Roads and by @davidmcw ‘s @kilkenomics pic.twitter.com/ecvGEXGdXd
— NassimNicholasTaleb (@nntaleb) November 9, 2015

Fooled by Researchers https://t.co/lxOaNOWnwP
— NassimNicholasTaleb (@nntaleb) November 12, 2015

Becoming an academic if you like the pursuit of knowledge is like becoming an airport mechanic if you like flying. #uninterestingdetails
— NassimNicholasTaleb (@nntaleb) November 11, 2015

Here is the sheet of simulations where I show to be skeptical of big data, DNA promises, etc. IN PROGRESS. https://t.co/nEfq1EgSpg
— NassimNicholasTaleb (@nntaleb) November 10, 2015

Irish Beer, Red Meat, Gamma Functions, Gini, Life Expectancy, Kuala Lampur, Data


There is a debate around the perceived toxicity of red meat and bacon. (Facebook)
Regrettably few researchers get the point that you need to include *frequency of intake* in the testing rather than just the average intake (a point belabored in Antifragile). Everything nonlinear depends on second order effects.

How often matters much more than how much.

Populations in history have tended to eat meat irregularly ( the Greek ate meat only on sacrifice days) but like lions and other hunters/carnivores they gorge on it during these episodes. Orthodox Christians are vegan around 200 days a year, but they feast on fatty meat during feast days.
Having taken a look at the paper I can safely say that the authors missed the point. The report is based on statistical confounders.

Incidentally Monsanto missed the point with the crops that are genetically engineered to produce their own pesticides. As these crops release the pesticides continously, rather than by bursts, they are effective enough to represent a risk to your health, but not enough to harm the pests.
Jensen’s inequality, once again.



Many people keep boasting that we tend to live longer than our ancestors using the misinterpreted measure of life expectancy. (Facebook)

Life expectancy doesn’t tell you how LONG people live.
It mostly tells you how many children fail to survive. So reducing childhood mortality when it is high extends life expectancy much more than efforts aiming at making people live longer. For instance bringing childhood mortality down from 30% to what we have today, close to 0, extends life expectancy by about 25 years –which is the bulk of the gains since the middle ages.

If you want to really measure how long people live, use the expectancy at 40.

For those into these things, this is the perfect illustration of the beautiful concept of ergodicity.