Monday, December 24, 2012

Taleb's Fragile Ego and Crusty Bed

I read Nicholas Nassim Taleb's bestseller "The Black Swan" nearly two years ago. You can see what I thought of that book here (some related thoughts here). Let's be charitable, and say I do not have a favorable impression of the book or the guy.

Call it confirmation bias, but I found Tom Barlett's "non-profile" of NNT in the wake of his new book "Antifragile" far more amusing.
Actually, Antifragile feels like a compendium of people and things Taleb doesn't like. He is, for instance, annoyed by editors who "overedit," when what they should really do is hunt for typos; unctuous, fawning travel assistants; "bourgeois bohemian bonus earners"; meetings of any kind; appointments of any kind; doctors; Paul Krugman; Thomas Friedman; nerds; bureaucrats; air conditioning; television; soccer moms; smooth surfaces; Harvard Business School; business schools in general; bankers at the Federal Reserve; bankers in general; economists; sissies; fakes; "bureaucrato-journalistic" talk; Robert Rubin; Google News; marketing; neckties; "the inexorable disloyalty of Mother Nature"; regular shoes.
While reading it, I also found an equally funny but older review of his previous book of mundane aphorisms called the Bed of Crusty.

Check them out.


Anonymous said...

I have been following development of Taleb's ideas since 2006 when I first encountered them. He seems to be very sincere in his challenge to the paradigm of modernity and able to attract attention to these ideas. I followed the development of his concept of anti-fragility in his facebook feed. He interacts and discusses his ideas with people in a very open way.
He has attained anti-fragility in many people's opinions so that even if he does something negative (like display enormous ego) only increases the level of attraction to him :)
BTW Merry Xmas and Happy New Year

Sachin Shanbhag said...

In my opinion, NNT is a great salesman, with a gift for inventing labels that catch on. And I say this in a good way.

I find him completely hypocritical. He can call others names, but can't handle the slightest bit of heat himself. That sounds pretty fragile to me.

Anonymous said...

It could be considered fragile if it had a negative effect on him. He probably is not interested in his reputation amongst other scholars (whom he mostly despises anyways!), but amongst readers. And his outbursts only seem to drive his book sales, put more light on his ideas and make the lay-person more interested in him.
He is a bundle of contradictions and hard to categorize and probably that drives lots of "academics" crazy too! :)

Anonymous said...

thanks for share.