Ask Nassim Taleb Anything

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

I haven’t followed reddit in years, but Nassim Taleb is doing an ask me anything thread over there right now:

  • Rule: any company that would cause a national emergency requiring a bailout should it fail should be classified BAILABLE-OUT and employees should not be allowed to earn more than civil servants. That would force companies to 1) be small, 2) not leech off the taxpayer.
  • I share many things with Ayn Rand. But not selfishness. Rather to me honor to take risks and account for your action is the rule.
  • [Dawkins] doesn’t understand what belief means, and talks religion confusing pisteic (credere) and epistemic. Belief in religion is epiphenomenal. Religion is about practice. The real reason is that he doesn’t of course understand probability.
  • Antifragility is simply a local response. Complexity Science is about systems. My approach is less theoretical (more robust), but if I were to ascribe to a theory, I would subscribe to Complexity theory.
  • I came to realize that FU money was a state of mind. Many rich people never have it. A train conductor/intellectual I know had it.
  • I will be honest. I often discover books because people tell me that I am similar to the writer, and later start imagining that they were an influence. It looks like a backward process.
  • The general problem is that we are not made to control our environment, and we are designed for a degree of variability: in energy, temperature, food composition, sleep duration, exercise (by Jensen’s inequality). Depriving anyone of variations is silly. So we need to force periods of starvation or fasts, sleep deprivation, protein deprivation, etc. Religions force shabbats, fasts, etc. but we are no longer under the sway of religions. The solution is rules.

A commenter shared this systems theory translation by John Michael Greer of a passage from the Tao Te Ching:

A process as described is not the process as it exists;
The terms used to describe it are not the things they describe.
That which evades description is the wholeness of the system;
The act of description is merely a listing of its parts.
Without intentionality, you can experience the whole system;
With intentionality, you can comprehend its effects.
These two approach the same reality in different ways,
And the result appears confusing;
But accepting the apparent confusion
Gives access to the whole system.


  1. Camp of the Saints says:

    A lot of very interesting subreddits are popping up over reddit. Useful link sharing and discussion.

  2. Almost like Usenet says:

    Almost like Usenet, but not.

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