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Thanks for the link. Just ‘flipped’ through the first few pages and my blood pressure is already way up.. the guy just can’t help himself antagonize his readers. It’s going to be a tough read..



Any discussion about Taleb always leads to questions about why he picks such public fights. I've said this before:

The most salient anecdote Taleb tells about himself is the one where he's going onstage to debate an opponent. He asks his publisher if punching the other guy in the face would be against his contract, and his publisher notes that it would be very good for book sales.

All Taleb does is punch people in the face nowadays. It's probably very good for book sales. He notes elsewhere, rightly I think, that the goal of anybody seeking PR should be to get the attention of somebody more famous then them: since it's much easier to pick fights than make friendships, and either will do, he picks fights with anybody he thinks has prominence. I believe it's a persona, and he's a very good method actor.


He is a method actor. I’ve seen him remarkably civil in small groups when that’s what he’s incented or inclined to be.


I can confirm that as well. I’ve been at the same small table with him for lunch and he is very civil and thoughtful.


Reading Antifragile always felt like he's got some interesting insights, some of which feel quite quackery ... and the constant pot shots are unnecessary to the point of distraction.

We get it, you don't like academics and The Establishment. But do you have to mention it every other paragraph like a teenage boy?

Guess nobody gave him the Kill Your Darlings writing advice.


I just bought Antifragile and can't believe this guy gets away with the constant petty swipes. There are enough interesting ideas to keep you going but there is so much petty noise in these books. If he has an editor they are doing a terrible job.


Yes, his prose is terrible. Initially I thought he never took any english composition class. But then I realized that perhaps he thinks he is too smart for such things. That is, he writes the way he think, the way he speaks.


I'm pretty sure he discusses editors at some point and he doesn't really like them or have one.

He takes the swipes, but he'll show up with a truckload of evidence supporting them if you push back.


I think Black Swan is much, much better.


Thanks for the warning. I'll go with my normal approach to non-entertaining non-fiction and just read a couple of online summaries.

E.g. https://www.nateliason.com/notes/antifragile


You can't cheat with reading. Whatever you think of NNT he carefully picks metaphors to simplify underlying fabric. When I read a book it feels like a conversation with the writer, it takes me through a new door and unlocks another paradigm. Try to read the whole Skin in the Game book. It's worth the investment. Summaries are like a hand job it doesn't compare with the real deal.


I'd give you multiple points for the handjob metaphor of I could.


> and the constant pot shots are unnecessary to the point of distraction.

For each their own I suppose. I found it unnecessary and also entertaining.


Oh they’re entertaining alright. They’re just also unnecessary and get old after the first 50 :D


I very much love and hate NNT. I think my biggest gripe about him is most of his books and podcats are kind of the same story over and over again: fat tail/Poisson distribution realizations. I do find him interesting most of the time but I wish he would also cover more things. And sorry this is a generalization, I know not everything he puts out is this.


He has some legitimately very interesting ideas, but yeah there's more than a whiff of man-with-a-hammer syndrome. Understanding the tails of distributions made him rich, so obviously they're the most important mathematical construct ever!

I've not regretted reading some of his books, but I strongly advise anyone who wants to maintain some respect for him to avoid his Twitter feed at all costs. And I'm one of those highly analytical types that isn't overly burdened by emotional sensitivity. The man really is just that grating in real time. I get the impression that in his books he does some rewriting to limit his more egregious impulses.


The book "Dynamic Hedging" stands apart from the others with none of the typical NNT personality. Instead, it reads more like a math book with amazing theorems such as predicting the exact order that various kinds of hedgers will get wiped-out in a volatile market.


My guess the reason he is not moving on to different topics is that there thousands of people with official credentials who completely misunderstand statistics, and fat tails in particular.


The real reason that fat-tails aren't widely used isn't ignorance, it's because they are tricky to model and work with and have there own unexpected results.

While assuming normality will very often lead you to underestimate risk, fat tails can easily cause you to over estimate your risk.

Or think about the case of "robust" regression in which errors in a linear model are assumed to be from a fat tailed distribution like Student's T. This means that your model is not suprised by outliers. The consequence of this is that your model assumes that mode data is near the center and ignores extreme observations.

As a philosophical device fat tails are very helpful and interesting, but as a practical tool for modeling they are far from a panacea


So, you got to Section 2.2.15?




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