—“Taleb, like Gould, is trying to demonise mainstream psychology–but he’s only successful in creating a folk demon for the lay public. He knows that anyone with any technical expertise thinks he’s a clown. But he doesn’t care, because accuracy is less important to him than fame.”—Claire Lehmann @clairlemon
I don’t want to be the front man on this subject but he’s not trying to take down psychology, he’s trying to justify arab immigration to the west, and satisfy the chip on his shoulder as a christian arab. His empirical work was a dead end, and he can’t tolerate the truth: Trust.
West and east used tests successfully to filter out corruption for positions in government. Same for military, then same for academy. Wealth is available across the bell curve, with complexity (IQ) determining your market. You need conscientiousness to accumulate that wealth.
What taleb is attempting to obscure is west can create large complex organizations because of trust and trust under rule of law, and rule of law by filtering out corruption granting privilege to IQ. He can’t face that because levantines cannot create trust, rule of law or large complex organizations, because they thing lying is a tool, cunning is of merit, outwitting by cunning superior than outwitting by increase in productivity, quality, or innovation, and that the commons is to be pilfered rather than invested in at every opportunity.
So taleb is missing the whole point: that he is only able to use his techniques of via-negativa risk invstment, becuase he is in the only high trust polity, using IMMORAL MEANS OF GAIN, and so is his alter ego “Fat Tony”. These men are, by western ethics and morality ‘Scammers”.
Yet Taleb’s entire literature is devoted to lionizing scamming while ridiculing those who hold positions of privilege (influence) precisely because they are not in the scamming business. Now, this analysis will expose the primary difference between middle eastern and western people and it will explain why certain groups profit in certain industries: because they are immoral, and westerners are not.Morality requires reciprocity: productive, fully informed,warrantied, voluntary transfer, free of imposition of costs by externality against interests.
It is quite profitable to engage in immorality among moral people, just as it is less so among immoral people. And the finance business is by and large unproductive. In other words a westerner would never engage in the tactic used by Georg Soros, which was extractive. He did.
So whether you cast these people as amoral or immoral, intentional or unintentional, or genetically or culturally different,the reality is that only westerners practice material Reciprocity and verbal reciprocity Truth,and because we do we produce high trust and large complex disproportionately productive organizations from the family to the enterprise to the state. And lower trust people that do NOT sort for trust and grant privilege to people who have ability in complexity to PRESERVE that TRUST. That is what the chinese and the west did.
What institutions did the middle east foster instead? Cunning, Cheating, Lying, Rent seeking, taxing trade routes rather than producing. They lauded inbreeding, familiasm, tribalism, and not trust and productivity – and they rewarded dogmatists not talent.
As such they could not produce a middle class, middle class majority population, and middle class ethics, and as such they could not push trustworthiness down into the middle, working, and lower classes. Which is why they remained poor despite taxing world trade and consuming the genetic, cultural, institutional, knowledge and aesthetic capital of five great civilizations and reducing them to ignorance, poverty and dysgenia.
So yes you can make money if your conscientious at every point in the IQ curve but you cannot push trust, reciprocity, truth, and duty, judge and jury, contract and rule of law, down into a population and produce the multiples of scale, unless you FILTER upward for both intelligence (complexity) and conscientiousness, and you reward the combination with status and income, forcing a status hierarchy that must be imitated.
And that’s before we get to the fact that smarter people are better at suppressing error – which strangely, Taleb, as another proponent of via-negativa seems to overlook. And that as we scale opportunities are not scarcer, but more plentiful, but so are the increasing cascades of error.
So you know, basically, Taleb has been trying to teach the west how to devolve into a low trust bunch of middle eastern scam artists and calling it ‘smart’.
Meanwhile, he fails to grasp that those ‘educated but unintelligent people’ are in their position to eliminate error and low trust, not to maximize profits. Which if you have been following along this argument I’m making, means that not maximizing personal profit maximizes ALL.
So let me reduce Taleb’s life’s work as an essayist in ridicule of western civilization to its foundations:
(a) Mandelbrot was right that the stock market is just noise so w/o inside information just invest in funds. … (and here comes the big one)
(b) rule of law and involuntary warranty must be extended from commercial goods and services to all information in the marketplace. yes that’s right. We gave license to people to not warranty their words in the 20th, and that’s the reason we are where we are today. Period.
Did you make that leap with me? Well, then follow me.
Taleb is a Charlatan who at first glance popularized Mandelbrot’s insights through humorous ego-inspiring essays making us feel smart like it made him feel smart. But the reality is, we have been smart for 5000 years: warranty of one’s words, martial testimony “reporting” in all walks of life. The RETURNS ON COMMONS make Private returns possible, and commons require high trust and that’s why europeans are the only people to have produced them.
We call it the civil society.