Friday, August 30, 2013

Nassim Taleb quotes

From Antifragile:
Remember from the logic of the barbell that it is necessary to first remove fragilities.

I have used all my life a wonderfully simple heuristic: charlatans are recognizable in that they will give you positive advice, and only positive advice, exploiting our gullibility and sucker-proneness for recipes that hit you in a flash as just obvious, then evaporate later as you forget them. Just look at the “how to” books with, in their title, “Ten Steps for—” (fill in: enrichment, weight loss, making friends, innovation, getting elected, building muscles, finding a husband, running an orphanage, etc.). Yet in practice it is the negative that’s used by the pros, those selected by evolution: chess grandmasters usually win by not losing; people become rich by not going bust (particularly when others do); religions are mostly about interdicts; the learning of life is about what to avoid. You reduce most of your personal risks of accident thanks to a small number of measures.

Further, being fooled by randomness is that in most circumstances fraught with a high degree of randomness, one cannot really tell if a successful person has skills, or if a person with skills will succeed—but we can pretty much predict the negative, that a person totally devoid of skills will eventually fail.

Now when it comes to knowledge, the same applies. The greatest—and most robust—contribution to knowledge consists in removing what we think is wrong—subtractive epistemology.

In life, antifragility is reached by not being a sucker.