Monday, November 17, 2014

Nassim Taleb: The core generator of Fooled by Randomness

From the end of Fooled by Randomness:
I have been periodically challenged to compress all this business of randomness into a few sentences, so even an MBA can understand it (surprisingly, MBAs, in spite of the insults, represent a significant portion of my readership, simply because they think that my ideas apply to other MBAs and not to them).

This brings to mind Rabbi Hillel’s story, when he was asked by someone particularly lazy if Hillel could teach him the Torah while the student was standing on one leg. Rabbi Hillel’s genius is that he did not summarize; instead, he provided the core generator of the idea, the axiomatic framework, which I paraphrase as follows: Don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you; the rest is just commentary

It took me an entire lifetime to find out what my generator is. It is: We favor the visible, the embedded, the personal, the narrated, and the tangible; we scorn the abstract. Everything good (aesthetics, ethics) and wrong (Fooled by Randomness) with us seems to flow from it.