Comments on: Understanding Taleb A slice of lime in the soda Sun, 26 Oct 2014 19:05:02 +0000 hourly 1 By: AQuant Sat, 05 Nov 2011 14:09:14 +0000 Spot on Orwell. Taleb is a joke and his attempts to dodge questions, logic and “specifics” are beyond the pale.


Probability was created with the wrong type of intelligence. Intelligence, “in the sense of IQ tests and SAT scores” is not, we learn from Taleb, “as natural & ancestrally fit as wit”. By not natural, the philosopher explains, “I mean not Black-Swan robust, skills we call intelligence because of a certain construction, but that are not needed ecologically”. The modern day thinker is referring to mating probabilities and poses an important question for humorless nerds without dates. “Is ‘intelligence’ without wit & verbal brilliance really intelligence?” If not, it stands to reason, we should be using ecologically valid criteria to “define true intelligence” and more importantly, to discern “relevant subjects”. One might conclude for example that “painting, wit, music are more NATURAL than abstract mathematics”.

How much of this nonsense does Taleb need to spurt before journalists peg him for what he is? Lift your game Felix.

By: orwell Tue, 09 Jun 2009 19:14:35 +0000 I much prefer talking in generalities to specifics. I much prefer to get future data when making bets on the present. Yes, less math! Fewer facts! Let us congratulate ourselves for our erudite observations and overlooked intellectual tradition. Oh yes, and Mandelbrot is underhyped! He has been ignored for reasons other than the value of his ideas. Down with the Econ. Nobel! Down with anyone applying math that I don’t understand!

By: vimothy Sun, 07 Jun 2009 17:29:45 +0000 Urrgh — just read the story: “visionary predictor”… puh-lease

By: vimothy Sun, 07 Jun 2009 17:25:57 +0000 Taleb is becoming something of a bore. Ya, Mr Taleb, we get it: you can’t predict the unpredictable, you can only claim to have predicted it and make up stories in support of that after the fact. Except when you predicted that whole financial crisis thing not so long ago.

By: Staufer Fri, 05 Jun 2009 04:42:16 +0000 “There is nothing new about Taleb’s ideas.”

What is that comment supposed to tell us? Taleb himself says so in his book where he traces the intellectual history of his ideas. What he did was bring together ideas from different fields to show how uncertainty and randomness is more relevant today, and how our mistaken belief in forecasting is making us more vulnerable.

Moreover, Steve confuses existence of ideas with appreciation of the same. Taleb does a good job of showing how the intellectual tradition that he is part of has been largely ignored. And while his book has made an impact, it will still take some time before economics departments reduce their fixation on hypercharged mathematics.

By: S Thu, 04 Jun 2009 12:53:58 +0000 If you think that’s purple prose you’ve been reading too many blogs and not enough books.

By: Barry Ritholtz Tue, 02 Jun 2009 14:27:41 +0000 Nice piece —

BTW, Nassim is the keynote speaker at our conference tomorrow in NYC — you are invited

By: randomlobster Tue, 02 Jun 2009 13:42:49 +0000 “There is nothing new about Taleb’s ideas.”

I have read both (Mis)Behavior of Markets and Fractal Geometry of Nature. In fact, some of Taleb’s idea can be traced back to those of Sextus Empiricus and Pyrrhonism (knowledge without cause). What he points out, among other things is the problem with using any kind of theoretical mathematical model for decision making, beyond studying their descriptive properties (and not predictive).

On a more general note: almost all modern thinkers try to understand our world (be it finance or ecology) and make decisions based on their understanding. This is where Taleb differs. He is trying to make a framework for decision making under uncertainty and ignorance. And that is what I meant when I said ‘his ideas’.

By: Don Mon, 01 Jun 2009 23:10:25 +0000 If Taleb never said $20 billion, then why did his clarification *on his web site* say it was a mere typo? There’s a big difference between “not saying it” and a typo. Here’s what the curmudgeon thinks: He said it, boastfully. Then it got printed and he realized he said something he shouldn’t have. To cover his a$$, he came up with some excuse to make it sound as if GQ got it wrong.

On the other hand, I used to get quoted in Barron’s all the time back in the 1990s in the options column. Half the time they got the story completely wrong. I would say something like volatility was low, so we want to situate ourselves for a rise in volatility. They would write, “Don Fishback expects volatility to be low.” Must be those layers of fact checkers in the U.S.

I guess we’ll find out if there is a retraction, clarification, correction. Should be interesting.

By: Steve Mon, 01 Jun 2009 21:33:25 +0000 re: “It may take years, even generations for people to fully appreciate his ideas.”

There is nothing new about Taleb’s ideas. You can easily trace them back to Benoit Mandelbrot’s 1963 paper about the behavior of cotton markets. And Taleb’s 2005 review of Mandelbrot’s book “The (Mis)Behavior of Markets” provides more of Taleb’s perspective on these matters. The reference follows.

Mandelbrot Makes Sense: A Book Review Essay
by Nicholas Taleb

A discussion of Benoit Mandelbrot’s “The (Mis)Behavior of Markets” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Wilmott Magazine, 2005) brotandhudson.pdf