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Posts Tagged ‘Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Minority rule: it takes a few very intolerant and tenacious people to make the system more honest

No troll should be able to abuse the media and academic system!

Ethical Breaches

Background: After being called a BS vendor by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in the past, Smith in a vendetta, has written 4 articles with similar attempts at discrediting and distorting without the slightest familiarity with the subject. More on these, later, as this is not the end.

Rule 1: You shall not use a media company such as Bloomberg to troll people you hate.
Rule 2: You shall not use the credibility of an academic position to troll people, particularly when you have failed academia and are concealing that you were terminated.
The article makes sure we know that Noah Smith is an assistant professor at Stony Brooks.
Except that I was told in January that he had been “resigned” for not meeting academic standards and was not coming back for the Jan 2016 semester,
in fact “never coming back”.
Smith claimed a sabbatical which conflicts with what I was told by faculty members.
Smith should not be using sham affiliations for positions he doesn’t have so he can talk about a subject he knows nothing about.

This is a public service for others who might fall prey to the overactive BS operator passing for expert Noah Smith (who was thrown out of academia for not meeting standards), with the misfortune of having been given a voice on Bloomberg, thus risking to turn Bloomberg (otherwise with tight standards) into a BS vending operation.

John Peter  shared this link of Nassim Nicholas Taleb. April 18 at 4:38pm ·

Added a page as public service (he will now leave me alone, this is to protect others, preserve the integrity of the system)
This is the minority rule: it takes only a few very very intolerant and tenacious people to make the system more honest.

Summary of Breaches of Journalistic Ethics & Logic  in Noah Smith’s Bloomberg View Article on The Black Swan of April 16, 2016

Ethical Flaw

Taleb in The Black Swan:

There are two varieties of rare events:

a) the narrated Black Swans, those that are present in the current discourse and that you are likely to hear about on television, and

b) those nobody talks about, since they escape models—those that you would feel ashamed discussing in public because they do not seem plausible. I can safely say that it is entirely compatible with human nature that the incidences of Black Swans would be overestimated in the first case, but severely underestimated in the second one.
This miscalculation problem is a little more subtle.

In truth, outliers are not as sensitive to underestimation since they are fragile to estimation errors, which can go in both directions.

As we saw in Chapter 6, there are conditions under which people overestimate the unusual or some specific unusual event (say when sensational images come to their minds)—which is how insurance companies thrive.

So my general point is that these events are very fragile to miscalculation, with a general severe underestimation mixed with an occasional severe overestimation.

Noah Smith in Bloomberg View: [goes on and on presenting the Black Swan as only overestimating market crashes]… In other words, Taleb might be wrong — people might be overestimating, rather than underestimating, the risk of market crashes.

So visibly Noah Smith is not familiar with the book that he is discussing.

This led to an incoherent response: Noah Smith said he “agrees with points above” (not explaining then his Taleb is “wrong” other than to create hype), and his editor, James Grieff saying “He read the book but disagrees with it”. His editor claims that “he read the book”is like someone claiming he read War and Peace, it takes place in Venezuela.

Background: Noah Smith has a long documented track record of writing critiques of books he hasn’t seen, and discussing papers he hasn’t read.

Here you have authors spending 10 years writing a book, and some troll with a megaphone critiquing it on things that have nothing to do with the content.

I first became aware of it when he previously commented on my skin-in-the-game without realizing there was the expression of a mathematical theorem, when it was on page 2.

Logical Fiasco

The editor has to have a problem to miss the severe asynchrony. Noah Smith  takes a book published in 2007 (before the last crisis), discussing events until 2006, then says “Taleb is wrong” from inference on market estimation of probability between 2007-2016 and what decision to take today based on prices today, 2016.

Perhaps the participants adjusted to events of 2007, the book, or something else.  The claim by Noah Smith about the Black Swan concerns the market value of risk, not the structure of risk, which is something subsequent to the book. That his editor missed the asynchrony is very, very strange…

Other Violations of Professionalism

Noah Smith has no familiarity with finance.

In 2009 I made a statement in Moscow about 4 trades to do. I was not aware of being filmed and used trader language.

One of them was short T Bonds. After I communicated to Noah Smith that he was a BS vendor, he advertised in 2014 my claim of short bonds … in 2009 as a way to wreck my credibility in every way possible.  Did he report on the other trades in the ensemble? No.

Did it hit him that trades are something that don’t last 4 years? No.

Did it hit him that bonds collapsed after the talk? (markets happen to go up and down).  No.

Did he realize that I have several hundred thousand trades in my career and no self respecting scientist would play the media megaphone to select one, particularly 5 years later without knowing the true outcome?

This is why he couldn’t write an academic paper: his mind has a defect in its logical wiring.

No finance academic would commit the lack of professionalism of cherry-picking a trade in a portfolio, and, worse, not realizing that a dynamic trader buys and sells and there is low correlation between the trade and the fate of the market.

How can someone that ignorant about finance write about finance?

It used to be Carthage must be destroyed.

Now it is: Delenda est Salafi-stan (Daesh land)

For centuries, the western world had no moral standard: All its strategy was based on power domination.

There were no good, bad, evil people to ally with or fight against: Pure uncompromising sense of terror tactics in all its variations.

WSIS (Wahhabi State in Syria and Iraq) is challenging the western brutality, terror tactics, pre-emptive wars, colonial domination, economic boycott…

The western world ire against WSIS is robbing them from the monopoly of deciding, planning and executing the terror tactics in over 134 States, led by the USA.

After the signing of the second Punic war peace treaty, between Carthage and Rome for the dominion of the Mediterranean trade, Cato the ancient kept demanding that Rome should launch a third pre-emptive war on Carthage.

Cato had visited Carthage with many other Roman senators and had noted that the nemesis of Rome was making rapid stride in recovering from the last war and gaining economic advantages.

For years, Cato kept starting or ending his speeches at the Roman Senate with variations around “Delenda est Cartago“, *Carthage must be destroyed*.

Until the Roman fleet went and destroyed Carthage, ending its threat for ever.

Carthage was far more cultured and civilized than Rome, and never attempted an open war on Rome, even when Rome was crawling out of the caves.

Hannibal could have easily entered Rome that was evacuated, but he refrained and lingered 12 years in Italy, defeating all the attacks of the Roman legions.

Carthage was willing to share the Mediterranean Sea as the hub of civilization and trade.

Rome position was the same as Bush Junior: You are either with us or against us.  Total dominion was the motto of this nascent empire.

After the latest Paris terror attacks, Holland announced that war on terror and Daesh will resume until ISIS is destroyed.

How war ever destroyed an idea, rooted in religious misgivings and myths?


Delenda est Salafi-stan.

Since Sep 11, 2001 no focus to cut the SOURCE of terrorism: Salafi funding of terror and intolerance in schools was widespread after the invasion of the Soviet Union of Afghanistan in 1980.

The Jihadists flocked to Afghanistan with the blessing of the USA and the western States.

Saudi Arabia began a program of building thousands of religious schools (Madrassat) in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Africa.

Most Mosques built in Europe, and they are by the hundreds, are funded by Saudi Arabia and the clerics appointed by this Wahhabi most reactionary monarchy.

Religious Schools spreading the Wahhabi extremist intolerant sect.

And no government challenging the Non-Tolerance dogma disseminated by these Mosques and Madrassat.

After 2001, the USA decided to let Saudi Arabia dominate the religious teaching while refocusing its attention on Invading Iraq in 2003, for no valid or urgent reasons.

Someone who went to school on Sept 11 in Saudi Arabia, now age 18 is brainwashed by the system to believe that all Shiites, Christians, and other minorities are deviant beings whose death doesn’t count

Over 3 decades, million of Moslems have been brainwashed to fight the new Crusaders, of every religious sect Not exactly matching the Wahhabi dogma.

And ISIS is the exact copy of the Wahhabi mind set.

The Saudi Wahhabis are the real foe

We must take our fight to the preachers and financiers of terror.

Singling out ISIS is a sure message that the USA, France and England are Not serious in eliminating terrorist attacks: They want to keep to the strategy of destabilizing the Middle-East.

Note: The Wahhabi tribes had made it a policy of devastating Damascus and Basra since the 18th century and Britain was the main supporter of this tribe in funds and weapons.

Egypt of Muhammad Ali defeated this tribe after a lengthy incursion and entered its capital in 1820.

Again, Britain resupplied this tribe with funds and new weapons in order to weaken the Ottoman Empire and captured the port of Aden.

The US conservative protestant religion liked the Wahhabi sect because it destroyed all shrines and even obliterated the shrines in Meddina and was about to raze the tomb of the Prophet and even destroy the Kaa3ba in 1925.

Curriculum of Intolerance: Saudi Wahhabi monarchy

Since 2001 our policy for fighting Islamic terrorists has been missing the elephant in the room.

Sort of like treating symptoms and completely missing the disease.

Policymakers and slow-thinking bureaucrats stupidly let terrorism grow by ignoring the roots.

We lost a generation: someone who went to grammar school in Saudi Arabia (our “ally”) after September 11 is now an adult, indocrinated into believing and supporting Salafi violence, hence encouraged to finance it –while we got distracted by the use of complicated weapons and machinery.

 Nassim Nicholas Taleb posted on FB

Even worse, the Wahabis have accelerated their brainwashing of East and West Asians with their madrassas (thousands of Wahhabi brand of religious schools), thanks to high oil revenues, and that since 1980 and the fight against the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan.

So instead of invading Iraq, blowing up Jihadi John and individual terrorists, thus causing a multiplication of these people, it would have been be easier to focus on the source of all problems: the Wahabi/Salafi education and promotion of intolerance by which a Shiite or a Yazidi or a Christian are deviant people.

If we absolutely need to put people in Guantanamo, it is the Salafi preachers, Wahhabi clerics, not just the people swayed by their teaching.

And if we need to correct Saudi problems, we need to start by sending to them OUR preachers, educating them into tolerance, explaining the very concept of the separation of church and state.

Or, better even, encourage Muslim preachers who promote religious tolerance (laka dinak wa li dini: You have your religion and I have mine) — instead of seeing them ostracized.

And if you find violence unavoidable, it should be directed at the Saudi and Qatari funders of violence, as well as the Salafi theorists, rather than the young performers.

PS:  Beware the usual ISIS crypto-sympathizer who sort of “explains” (that is, justifies) what happened (intentionally killing civilians) with some other Western event that can go all the way to the crusades…

Otherwise it is “biased”.

You cannot condemn ISIS without at the same time trying to be “balanced“? Who are they fooling?

This is the technique of bundling problems that can be treated independently and you need to learn to deal with them by forcing them to discuss the problem of ISIS on its own.

Freedom House’s Center for Religious Freedom released a report analyzing a set of Saudi Ministry of Education textbooks in use during the current academic year in Islamic studies courses for elementary and secondary students.
The textbooks promote an ideology of hatred toward people, including Muslims…

Uberized education  

An Uberized education is when –as in antiquity — one goes to a specific teacher to get lectures, bypassing the university.

(Why go to antiquity? A century ago, the aristocratic class were receiving these kinds of Ubers, above the working class privileges))

The students and the teachers are thus matched. If a piece of paper is necessary (certificate), it would be given by *that* teacher, or a group of teachers.

It is not too different from the decentralized apprentice model.

This already works well for executive “education”.

I give short workshops in my specialty of applied probability.

I have given a few with PW, YBY and RD, though only lasting 1-2 days, limited to professionals.

An Uberization would consists in making longer workshops, say of 2-3 week duration, after which the attendees would be getting a piece of paper of sorts.

From my experience, both students and lecturers are more sincere when they bypass institutions.

And, as with other Uberizations, it would be much efficient economically.

A full education would be a collection of such micro-diplomas, which can be done on top of a conventional one.

Finally I would personally like to attend such workshops in disciplines outside my specialty.

After my experience with Aramaic/Syriac (language?)last summer, I have a list of subjects I would be hungry to learn *outside* university systems…


Let us list what comes to mind as an auxiliary function, such the “spandrels of San Marco,” where the necessary space between arches in the Venetian cathedral of San Marco has led to the placement of significant art.
+ A dishwasher allows you to hide dirty dishes.

A swimming pool allows adults to be shirtless and feel the summer breeze without looking ridiculous. (Rory Sutherland).
+ Formal dress codes allow overweight men to hide their shape.
+ Dietary laws have the side effect of keeping minorities tight together –and preventing the majority from feeling threatened.

In Ottoman Mediterranean cities, interdicts against alcohol allowed tolerance; they prevented non-business socializing with the Christians. It allowed multi-religious cities to flourish.

There should be hunting rules based on skin in the game.

If you want to kill an animal, say a lion, for pleasure, you must incur the risk of being killed by the lion.

Looking for suggestions

PS- As to Walter Palmer (the dentist from Minnessota), in this case given the gravity of the violation, he should be fed to lions, as in the days of the Circus Maximus.


Nassim Nicholas Taleb posted this August 8, 2015

A lot of the discussions we’ve had here can be framed with the difference between “satisficing” (an old Northumbrian word meaning “good enough”) and “optimizing” (meaning always try to do better).Clearly, as with everything we think both modern and relevant, this was present in the classics in the various discussions of the difference between moderation and greed, particularly in virtue ethics.

The great polymath Herbert Simon posited that systems cannot really optimize;

I have held that optimization leads to nonlinear increase in hidden risks (the fragility arguments) which invariably blows up the apparatus.

Simon was hated by economists (he got their “Nobel”) because all their methods consist in optimizing (the easy mathematical route).
In human relationships we can’t optimize without becoming greedy selfish unethical crooks.

And in commerce we prefer relations to transactions, ready to support the local butcher because we feel we are part of a community and we are not alone –we are paid back with a smile and someone who says hello in the street.

Indeed the central flaw in optimization is thinking that “everything else” ceases to exist and makes people think the individual, not the collective, is the true unit –when such thinking blows up the system (or fake local rationality as opposed to more organic, collective, survival of the system broader type of “rationality”).

But the true discussion is the Procrustean Bed standpoint: from an existential reason, we humans are punished when we try to optimize, as if we suddenly ceased to be humans.

Friends, comments are welcome (provided they conform to the rules, i.e., add to the discussion).

Note 1: Can’t Optimization be applied to Virtue Ethics? If we can create a measuring scale for the taxonomy of virtue Ethics?

Note 2: I am pleased to read this new perspective on optimization.

In 1975, I had an MS in physics and wanted to leave my home-country that plunged in a civil war. The list of engineering fields mentioned Industrial Engineering”and I wondered: “Why not? I crave something with hand-on knowledge. Like drawing and designing objects, equipment and “system”as it was later called. It turned out that discipline had nothing to do with design or had any lab courses, but  mainly optimizing production, inventory…

We had to deal and resolve sets of constraints along with an optimization function. It was no brainer mathematically, but we had to solve tedious equations by hand.

How Accountants could be really sexy?

John Peter shared this link of Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Friends, let us discuss this point by Rory Sutherland:

If rationality were valuable in evolutionary terms, accountants would be really sexy.”

1) Is it that professions that are attractive to others and provide social rank satisfy a certain selection criterion, with hidden benefits to society that we can detect?

I think so: courage is extremely attractive and heroes are worshipped for a reason, as they take risks for the collective.

But is it universal?

2) The accountant definition of rationality is too narrow and not altruistic enough to qualify as useful for the collective.

They are scribes, not high priests.

3) We can extend the discussion to other professions: mathematicians (I am told) aren’t interesting to others (except to math students).

 Same with economists.

If these professions don’t seem “sexy” is it because they aren’t that “fit” (for our actual irrational behaviors)?




June 2020

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