Great Polemic

I had thought that truly great polemic was dead and gone. I was wrong. It’s directed at Nassim Taleb, the Black Swan guy, and here’s a sample:

Mountebanks like Taleb sell their wares by making the regular jamoke reading his books and essays feel fiendishly intelligent for understanding the concept of fat tails at the expense of all those pointy headed Ph.D.’s in the back room with their slide rules and white laboratory jackets. I think there would be a lot of social equity in doing this, except, the dudes in the white laboratory jackets are well aware of those fat tails. As such, Taleb is merely setting himself up as some sort of heretical alpha monkey of the quants for stating the obvious, the misleading, and occasionally the gratuitously wrong-headed and untrue.

Whether you agree or not it’s a great example of a dying art.

Hat tip: Felix Salmon

1 comment… add one
  • Drew Link

    From the perspective of an individual, buying Lotto tickets is an irrational act. Its a Black Swan event. From the perspective of the collective, someone wins every few weeks. Black Swans occur regularly.

    Taleb has not so much an insight, but the law of large numbers in his favor.

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