THE ANTIFRAGILE. Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and. NASSIM NICHOLAS TALEB: TO PREVAIL IN AN UNCERTAIN. WORLD, GET Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder, by Taleb, a philosopher and businessman. .. 4 soundofheaven.info Coleman and I. Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder “Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the.
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Taleb, Nassim. Antifragile: things that gain from disorder / Nassim Nicholas Taleb. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN The notions of fragility and antifragility were introduced in Taleb(,). In short, fragility is related to how a system suffers from the variability. Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder: Book Review. Nassim NicholasTaleb, Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder, New York: Random House, In the book, Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder, the author Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
Ferguson, C. You may even just not go. Such a move does not warrant an explanation. A medical journalist would pick it up and claim that one Professor N. Because of this lack of tangible evidence it is time to acknowledge that the atmospheric greenhouse effect and especially its climatic impact are based on meritless conjectures.
They were of greater speed, scale and magnitude than had ever been considered possible. Scientists say that they were shocked by warming so fast, intense and widespread. The Guardian, Australian edition, 10 Oct …………………………………. Tags Antarctica more fires in boreal forests February 22, by admin ………………………………….
Fire strongly influences carbon cycling and storage in boreal forests. In the near term, if global warming occurs, the frequency and intensity of fires in boreal forests are likely to increase significantly. Kasischke and others, Ecological Applications, Vol 5, No 2, May pp Tags boreal less fires in boreal forests February 22, by admin Despite increasing temperatures since the end of the Little Ice Age circa wildfire frequency has decreased as shown in many field studies from North America and Europe.
We believe that global warming since may have triggered decreases in fire frequency in some regions and future warming may even lead to further decreases in fire frequency… The simulation and fire history results suggest that the impact of global warming on northern forests through forest fires may not be disastrous and that contrary to the expectations of an overall increase in forest fires there may be large regions of the Northern Hemisphere with a reduced fire frequency.
Tags boreal Snowdon going downhill February 14, by admin …………………………………. The data collected by experts from the Bangor university suggests that a white Christmas on Snowdon — the tallest mountain in England and Wales — may one day become no more than a memory.
The figures indicated that this winter Snowdon is on track to have less snow than any of the last 10 years. The results appear to back the growing body of evidence to support climate change. Alan Kendall, general manager of Snowdon Mountain Railway, said: New Scientist 20 Aug Tags Earth, earth rotation Earth slows down February 6, by admin Belgian scientists have identified a hitherto unsuspected benefit of global warming — more time for all of us.
BBC News, 12 Feb …………………………………. Sydney Morning Herald, Environment, 14 May …………………………………. A change in the North Atlantic current could lead to the end of the soggy British summers, researchers have claimed….. A decline in its speed, however, could cool the North Atlantic and put an end to the pattern, bringing colder but drier summer weather to Britain in future, experts explained. Met Office press release 2 Jun …………………………………. Tags rain less coral reefs January 25, by admin ………………………………….
Coral reefs will be the first global ecosystem to collapse in our lifetimes. When CO2 in the atmosphere reaches a concentration of to parts per million ppm , the oceans will mostly be too acidic for corals to grow. IPS News, May Tags coral more coral reefs January 25, by admin Coral reefs could be growing 35 per cent faster by the next century because of global warming.
A team from the University of New South Wales, in Sydney, modelled interactions between the atmosphere, oceans and ice and found that warmer water would increase the rate of coral calcification, outweighing the detrimental effect of lower calcium carbonate levels.
By , corals would be growing 35 per cent faster than they do today, they predicted. Tags coral The Earth is doomed! January 22, by admin …………………………………. We thought we knew 20 years ago. He added that other environmental commentators, such as former vice president Al Gore, are also guilty of exaggerating their arguments. The Daily Mail Australia 24 April ………………………………….
With the pace of global warming increasing, some climate change experts predict that the Scottish ski industry will cease to exist within 20 years. We round up what they offer, from the best pistes to where to stay and the best stop for a nice post-piste cake. Tags ski oceans less salty January 3, by admin …………………………………. Since the late s, much of the North Atlantic Ocean has become less salty, in part due to increases in fresh water runoff induced by global warming, scientists say.
Live Science, 29 Jun Tags ocean, salt oceans more salty January 3, by admin Global warming is making the sea more salty, according to new research that demonstrates the massive shifts in natural systems triggered by climate change. Experts at the UK Met Office and Reading University say warmer temperatures over the Atlantic Ocean have significantly increased evaporation and reduced rainfall across a giant stretch of water from Africa to the Carribean in recent years.
The change concentrates salt in the water left behind. The vast looping system of air currents that fuels Pacific trade winds and climate from South America to South-East Asia may be another victim of climate change, according to scientists. The system has weakened by 3. The authors reject the study gives impetus to climate change deniers and instead suggest that when the winds ease, global warming will accelerate rapidly.
Tags trade winds Antarctica gaining weight December 17, by admin …………………………………. The eastern half of Antarctica is gaining weight, more than 45 billion tons a year as snow and ice pile up, according to a new scientific study.
Curt H. Dr Malcolm Macmillan from Leeds University, who was the lead author of the study, said the area has long been identified as the most vulnerable to changes in climate and assessments suggest its glaciers may have passed a point of irreversible retreat. The Independent UK 19 May …………………………………. Tags Antarctica winds decrease December 17, by admin …………………………………. An increase in temperature of only a couple of degrees may increase the dispersal of plants in Northern forests and the spread of plant species into forest clearings after felling or forest fires.
Very few scholars have mastery of more than one or two of these disciplines. It is agenda-driven, a political rather than scientific body, and some allege it is corrupt. Origins of bias include careerism, grant-seeking, political views, and confirmation bias. Conflict of Disciplines Climate is an interdisciplinary subject requiring insights from many fields.
Very few scholars in the field have mastery of more than one or two of these disciplines. Richard S. Unless the physicist is intimately familiar with the literature on the rises. Geologists view time in millennia and eons and are aware of huge fluctuations in both global temperatures and carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, with the two often moving in different directions.
They scoff at physicists and botanists who express concern over a historically tiny increase in carbon dioxide concentrations of parts per million and a half- degree C increase in temperature over the course of a century.
But how many geologists understand the impact of even relatively small changes in temperature or humidity on the range and health of some plants and animals? But do economists properly value the contribution of ecological systems to human welfare, or apply properly the discount rates they use to measure costs and benefits that occur far in the future?
Simon observed another consequence of this tunnel vision. Scientists are often optimistic about the safety of the environment when it relates to subjects encompassing their own area of research and expertise, but are pessimistic about risks outside their range of expertise. Simon wrote: This phenomenon is apparent everywhere.
Geologists know about the progress in natural resources that pushes down their prices, but they worry about food. Even worse, some of those who are most optimistic about their own areas point with alarm to other issues to promote their own initiatives. The motive is sometimes self-interest pp. The climate change debate resembles the famous tale of a group of blind men touching various parts of an elephant, each arriving at a very different idea of what it is like: An elephant has all the features you mentioned.
Few indeed. This source of disagreement seems obvious but is seldom discussed. Scientists both physical scientists and social scientists make assertions and predictions claiming high degrees of confidence, a term with precise meaning in science but turned into an empty tool of rhetoric by IPCC and its allies, that are wholly unjustified given their training and ignorance of large parts of the vast literature regarding climate. Science and politics: Global warming and eugenics. In Hahn, R.
Risks, Costs, and Lives Saved: Getting Better Results from Regulation. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Simon, J. Hoodwinking the Nation. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers. Scientific Uncertainties Fundamental uncertainties arise from insufficient observational evidence, disagreements over how to interpret data, and how to set the parameters of models.
The human impact on climate remains a puzzle. As Bony et al. Bony has also identified uncertainty in climate science in the journal Science Stevens and Bony, The first volume in the Climate Change Reconsidered II series cited thousands of peer-reviewed articles and studies revealing the extensive uncertainty acknowledged by Bony et al.
Since the Summary for Policymakers of that volume appears below Chapters 3 to 7 , there is no need to summarize its findings here. According to Lindzen , there are three principal areas of uncertainty in climate science: In particular, it is not merely a matter of the bases that absorb heat radiation — greenhouse gases — keeping the earth warm.
If it were, the natural greenhouse would be about four times more effective than it actually is. Roughly speaking, changes in relative humidity on the order of 1. Our measurement uncertainty for trends in water vapor is in excess of 10 percent, and once again, model errors are known to substantially exceed measurement errors in a very systematic way. There is, nonetheless, argument over whether the above points mean that the predicted significant response to increased carbon dioxide is without meaningful basis.
Her Ph. She is an elected fellow of the American Geophysical Union and councilor and fellow of the American Meteorological Society. Curry delivered a speech on June 15, to the British House of Lords. So why do scientists disagree? And there is a growing realization that unpredictable natural climate variability is important.
Biological Impacts Idso et al. References Bony, S. Nature Geoscience 8: Curry, J. State of the climate debate in the U. Remarks to the U. House of Lords, June Climate Etc. Idso, C. D, Carter, R. Physical Science. Chicago, IL: The Heartland Institute. D, Idso, S. Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts. Lindzen, R. Chapter 5. Climate science: Is it currently designed to answer questions?
Euresis Journal 2: Schiermeier, Q. Physicists, your planet needs you. Nature April 2. Stevens, B. What are climate models missing? Science It is typically assumed that IPCC, consisting of some climate scientists, after weighing the evidence, arrived at a consensus that global temperatures are rising and the most plausible cause is anthropogenic in nature. These committees, one of which was IPCC, often produced reports making increasingly bold and confident assertions about future climate impacts, but they invariably included statements admitting deep scientific uncertainty Weart, It is common for committees seeking consensus reports to include qualifications and admissions of uncertainty and even publish dissenting reports by committee members.
This common practice had an unintended result in the climate debate. Rather than protest this mishandling of its work, IPCC encouraged it by producing Summaries for Policymakers that edit away or attempt to hide qualifying statements.
IPCC news releases have become more and more alarmist over time until they are indistinguishable from the news releases and newsletters of environmental groups. In fact, many of those IPCC news releases were written or strongly influenced by professional environmental activists who had effectively taken over the organization. Secretary of State for Education and Skills, Tasked with finding a human impact on climate and calling on the nations of the world to do something about it, IPCC pursued its mission with fierce dedication.
Nature, a prominent science journal, editorialized in In particular, the temperature range of the warming that would result from a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels is expected to be judged as 1. These questions have important policy implications, and the IPCC is the right body to answer them. They say that the document sidesteps any hint of what specific countries, or groups of countries, should do to move towards clean energy systems.
Among its findings: Fake confidence intervals: Use of gray-sources: Too much reliance on unpublished and non-peer- reviewed sources p. Political interference: The use of secret data: Selection of contributors is politicized: Politicians decide which scientists are allowed to participate in the writing and review process: Chapter authors exclude opposing views: As pointed out to the Committee by a presenter and some questionnaire respondents, alternative views are not always cited in a chapter if the Lead Authors do not agree with them Need for independent review: IPCC misrepresents its findings, does not properly peer review its reports, the selection of scientists who participate is politicized, the summary for policymakers is the product of late-night negotiations among governments and is not written by scientists, and more.
The final report was heavily edited to water down and perhaps hide the extent of problems uncovered by the investigators, itself evidence of still more misconduct.
The report received virtually no press attention in the United States. It is doubtful whether any other changes made at that time would have meaningfully affected the Fifth Assessment Report, which was already largely written. Media accounts of the release of AR5 once again told of late-night sessions with politicians and advocacy group representatives rewriting the Summary for Policymakers.
They are political documents, not balanced or accurate summaries of the current state of climate science. They cannot provide reliable guidance to policymakers, economists, and climate scientists who put their trust in them.
References Balling, R. The Heated Debate: Greenhouse Predictions versus Climate Reality. San Francisco, CA: Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy. Bell, L. Climate of Corruption: Austin, TX: Greenleaf Book Group Press. The scientific consensus of climate change revisited. Bray, D. A survey of climate scientists concerning climate science and climate change. Carlin, A. Environmentalism Gone Mad: Mount Vernon, WA: Stairway Press.
Carter, R. The Counter Consensus. London, UK: Stacey International. Darwall, R. The Age of Global Warming: A History. Quartet Books Limited. Dimmock vs. Secretary of Education and Skills, Case No.
Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London. Inside the sausage factory May Taken By Storm: Toronto, Canada: Key Porter Books. An Inconvenient Truth. Eamus, PA: Rodale Press. Green, K. Global warming: Forecasts by scientists versus scientific forecasts.
Energy and Environment Validity of climate change forecasting for public policy decision making. International Journal of Forecasting Carbon Dioxide: Friend or Foe? Tempe, AZ: IBR Press. Idso, S. Carbon Dioxide and Global Change: Earth in Transition.
IAC, InterAcademy Council. Climate Change Assessments: The Hague, Netherlands. IPCC, IPCC completes review of processes and procedures. News Release June Jastrow, R. Scientific Perspectives on the Greenhouse Problem. Ottawa, IL: The Marshall Press. Jonas, E. An expansion of dissonance theoretical research on selective exposure to information. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Laframboise, D.
Ivy Avenue Press. Into the Dustbin: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. Landsberg, H. Global climatic trends. The Resourceful Earth: Basil Blackwell Publisher Limited. Lewis, M. Washington, DC: Competitive Enterprise Institute. Hockey sticks, principal components and spurious significance.
Geophysical Research Letters Michaels, P. Sound and Fury: The Science and Politics of Global Warming. Cato Institute. The Satanic Gases. Shattered Consensus: The True State of Global Warming. Lanham, MD: Climate of Extremes: Climate Coup: Moore, K. The Chain of Command: Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
The final assessment. September 19 , National Research Council. National Academy Press. Knowledge and Diplomacy: Science Advice in the United Nations System. The Hague, Netherlands: Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. Pielke Jr. The Climate Fix: Basic Books. Climate change: The need to consider human forcings besides greenhouse gases. EOS Russell, M. IPCC report under fire. April 17 Seitz, F. A major deception on global warming. The Wall Street Journal June Singer, S.
What to do about greenhouse warming: Look before you leap.
A Journal of Emerging Issues 5: The Greenhouse Debate Continued: ICS Press. Hot Talk Cold Science. Oakland, CA: The Independent Institute. Global Climate Change. Paragon House. Solomon, L. The Deniers: Richard Vigilante Books. Is IPCC government approval process broken? Last viewed September 25, Tol, R.
IPCC again. Vahrenholt, F. The Neglected Sun: Why the Sun Precludes Climate Catastrophe. Second English Edition. Weart, S. Climate change impacts: The growth of understanding. Physics Today September Wible, B. IPCC lessons from Berlin.
Bias is another reason for disagreement among scientists and other writers on climate change. Scientists, no less than other human beings, bring their personal beliefs and interests to their work and sometimes make decisions based on them that direct their attention away from research findings that would contradict their opinions. Bias is often unconscious or overcome by professional ethics, but sometimes it leads to outright corruption.
Park et al. This phenomenon, known as herding, subjects the scientific community to an inherent risk of converging on an incorrect answer and raises the possibility that, under certain conditions, science may not be self-correcting. John P.
Ioannidis, professor of medicine and of health research and policy at Stanford University School of Medicine and a professor of statistics at Stanford University School of Humanities and Sciences, in a series of articles published in journals including the Journal of the American Medical Association JAMA , revealed most published research in the health care field cannot be replicated or is likely to be contradicted by later publications Ioannidis, a, b; Ioannidis and Trikalinos, ; Ioannidis, In fact, he found that the likelihood of research being contradicted was highest with the most prestigious journals including Nature, Science, and JAMA.
Much to their credit, these journals and academic institutions claim to be engaged in considerable soul-searching and efforts to reform a peer-review process that is plainly broken. The scandal received little press attention in the United States. Journals such as Nature take the scandal over peer-review corruption seriously when it involves other topics Ferguson et al. They are not immune to having tunnel vision regarding the importance of their work and employment. Each believes his or her mission is more significant and essential relative to other budget priorities.
To obtain funding and more funding , it helps scientists immensely to have the public — and thus Congress and potentially private funders — worried about the critical nature of the problems they study. This incentive makes it less likely researchers will interpret existing knowledge or present their findings in a way that reduces public concern Lichter and Rothman, ; Kellow, ; Kabat, As a result, scientists often gravitate toward emphasizing worst-case scenarios, though there may be ample evidence to the contrary.
This bias of alarmism knows no political bounds, affecting both liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans Berezow and Campbell, ; Lindzen, Their support comes overwhelmingly from individuals and their foundations motivated by concern over the apparent corruption of science taking place and the enormous costs it is imposing on the public.
Many scientists, and institutions that support science, are becoming advocates for UN climate policies, which is leading scientists into overconfidence in their assessments and public statements and into failures to respond to genuine criticisms of the scientific consensus.
Why does he do that? The merits and demerits of post-normal science can be debated, but it undoubtedly has one consequence of significance in the climate change debate: Hulme is quite open about his. That, of course, means getting loads of media coverage. This is unusual behavior for a scientist and disturbing for one working at high levels in IPCC. Ignorance of research outside their area of specialization, reliance on flawed authorities, bias, and outright corruption all contribute to unwarranted alarmism in the climate change debate.
References Berezow, A. Science Left Behind: Philadelphia, PA: Butos, W. Causes and consequences of the climate science boom. The Independent Review Cook, R. Merchants of smear. Heartland Policy Brief September. Last viewed on October 1, Ferguson, C.
The peer- review scam. Little, Brown and Company. Hulme, M. Understanding Controversy, Inaction and Opportunity. Cambridge University Press. Contradicted and initially stronger effects in highly cited clinical research. Journal of the American Medical Association Ioannidis, J. Why most published research findings are false. PLOS Medicine 2: Scientific inbreeding and same-team replication: Type D personality as an example.
Journal of Psychosomatic Research Early extreme contradictory estimates may appear in published research: Journal of Clinical Epidemiology Kabat, G. Hyping Health Risks: Columbia University Press. Kellow, A. Science and Public Policy: Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing. Lichter, S. Environmental Cancer — A Political Disease? New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Montford, A. Hockey Stick Illusion: Climategate and the Corruption of Science. Gibberish papers. Park, I-U. Modelling the effects of subjective and objective decision making in scientific peer review. Discover October. Sussman, B. But the best available data show sea-level rise is not accelerating Houston and Dean, Local and regional sea levels continue to exhibit typical natural variability — in some places rising and in others falling.
Island coastal flooding results not from sea-level rise, but from spring tides or storm surges in combination with development pressures such as borrow pit digging or groundwater withdrawal. Persons emigrating from the islands are doing so for social and economic reasons rather than in response to environmental threat. Another claim concerning the effect of climate change on oceans is that increases in freshwater runoff into the oceans will disrupt the global thermohaline circulation system.
But the range of natural fluctuation in the global ocean circulation system has yet to be fully delineated Srokosz et al. Global Warming Scam. Worldnet Daily. They are growing more and more confident at predicting when volcanoes will erupt in the short-term.
If a volcano was going to erupt in one hour they'd have a good idea it was going to happen. If it was going to blow in a week they'd be less sure, and in six months even less so. The further a volcano is from erupting, the harder it is to predict.
Working out if a volcano will erupt in future years is still impossible. Dazed survivors, covered in ash and some with blood, trudged through their destroyed neighborhoods. Many were shocked and sobbing, wondering what happened to their loved ones. Randomness and Our Brain: We Are Probability Blind On the difficulty of thinking of your vacation as a linear combination of Paris and the Bahamas.
Nero Tulip may never ski in the Alps again. Some discussion of behavioral discoveries. Some manifestations of probability blindness taken out of a textbook. A little more on journalistic pollution. Why you may be dead by now. Paris or the Bahamas? You have two options for your next brief vacation in March. The first is to fly to Paris; the second is to go to the Caribbean. You expressed indifference between the two options; your spouse will tip the decision one way or the other. Two distinct and separate images come to you when you think of the possibilities.
You are carrying an umbrella under your arm. In the second image, you are lying on a towel with a stack of books by your favorite authors next to you Tom Clancy and Amianus Marcellinus , and an obsequious waiter serving you a banana daiquiri. You derive great pleasure thinking about your vacation; it motivates you and makes your daily commute more bearable. Can your brain handle that? How desirable would it be to have your feet in the Caribbean waters and your head exposed to the Parisian rain?
Our brain can properly handle one and only one state at once - unless you have personality troubles of a deeply pathological nature.
Any luck? In purely mathematical terms, the fair value of a bet is the linear combination of the states, here called the mathematical expectation, i. We can conjure up one and only one state at a given time. Left to our own devices, we are likely to bet in an irrational way, as one of the states would dominate the picture. Some Architectural Considerations Time to reveal Nero's secret. It was a black swan.
He was then Although pre-war buildings in New York can have a pleasant front, their architecture seen from the back offers a stark contrast by being completely bland. He will always remember the view of the ugly pink backyard from the leaden window panes, and the medical diploma on the wall that he read a dozen times as he was waiting for the doctor to come into the room half an eternity, for Nero suspected that something was wrong.
The news was then delivered grave voice , "I have some I got the pathology report It is not as bad as it sounds It's cancer". The declaration caused his body to be hit by an electric discharge, running through his back down to his knees. Nero tried to yell "what? What scared him was not so much the news as the sight of the doctor.
Somehow the news reached his body before his mind. There was too much fear in the doctor's eyes and Nero immediately suspected that the news was even worse than what he was being told it was. It meant that 72 people out of a hundred make it. It takes between three and five years for the body without clinical manifestations of the disease for the patient to be pronounced cured closer to three at his age.
He then felt in his guts quite certain that he was going to make it. Clearly, there is none, but we are not made for mathematics. From Psychology to Neurobiology For reasons we just saw, the laws of probability are said to be counterintuitive by the researchers in the cognitive and behavioral sciences. We are probability blind, these scientists say. This chapter will rapidly illustrate some manifestations of such blindness, with a cursory exposition of the research in that area.
It is filling out library shelves and causing the creation of numerous investment funds dedicated to the sister idea that people do not behave in a rational way in the markets. Some funds have been built around the idea that people overreact to news, while others have been devoted to the notion that, to the contrary, people underreact I was told early in my career that the more diversity the better for the market.
These beliefs give rise to two categories of trading strategies. On one side we find the contrarians who subscribe to the following rationale: Hey, since people systematically overreact, let us take the other side, sell the winners and buy the losers.
On the other side stand the momentum players who do the exact opposite: Since markets do not adjust fast enough, let us buy the winners and sell the losers. Because of randomness, both categories will show periodic victories, which cannot prove directly that either theory is right or wrong. Even psychiatrists and clinical psychologists are joining the fray by becoming "experts" - after all they know more about the human mind that those financial economists with their unrealistic, unscientific equations, and it is, after all, human behavior that ultimately influences the markets.
A yearly conference in Boston gathers medical doctors and psychology researchers musing over market strategies. The idea may seem simple, perhaps even boring until we encounter professionals, whom we expect would deal with the matter with maximal expertise, falling right into the trap like the man on the street.
Our natural habitat I will not delve too deeply into amateur evolutionary theory to probe at the reasons besides, in spite of having spent some time in libraries I feel that I am truly an amateur in the subject matter.
Clearly, the environment for which we have built our genetic endowment is not the one that prevails today. I have not told too many of my colleagues that their decision-making contains some lingering habits of cavemen - but when markets experience an abrupt move, I experience the same rush of adrenaline as if a leopard was seen prowling near my trading desk.
Some of my colleagues who break telephone handles upon losing money might be even closer in their psychological makeup to our common origin. What used to strike me as a child upon visiting museums is that ancient Greek statues exhibit men with traits indistinguishable from ours only more harmonious and aristocratic. I was so wrong to believe that 2, years was a long time. Proust wrote frequently about the surprise people have while coming across emotions in Homeric heroes that are similar to those we experience today.
By genetic standards, these Homeric heroes of 30 centuries ago in all likelihood have the exact identical genetic makeup as the pudgy middle- aged man you see schlepping groceries in the parking lot. More than that. In fact we are truly identical to the man who perhaps 80 centuries ago started being called "civilized", in that strip of land stretching from Southeastern Syria to Southwestern Mesopotamia. What is our natural habitat? By natural habitat, I mean the environment in which we reproduced the most, the one in which we spent the highest number of generations.
The consensus among anthropologists is that we have been around as a separate species for , years, most of which were spent in the African savannah. But we do not have to go back that far in history to get the point. Imagine life in an early urban settlement, in Middle-Town, Fertile Crescent, only about 3 , 0 0 0 years ago - surely modern times from a genetic standpoint.
Information is limited by the physical means of its transmission; one cannot travel fast, hence information will come from faraway places in concise batches. Traveling is a nuisance fraught with all manner of physical danger; you will settle within a narrow radius of where you were born unless famine or some invading uncivilized tribe dislodges you and your relatives from your happy settlement. The number of people you would get to know in a lifetime will be small.
Should a crime be committed, it will be easy to gauge the evidence of guilt within the small number of possible suspects.
If you are unjustly convicted of a crime, you will argue in simple terms, propounding simple evidence like "I was not there as I was praying in the temple of Baal and was seen at dusk by the high priest" and add that Obedshemesh son of Sahar was more likely to be guilty because he had more to gain from the crime.
Your life would be simple, hence your space of probabilities would be narrow. The real problem is, as I have mentioned, that such a natural habitat does not include much information. An efficient computation of the odds was never necessary until very recently. Popular belief holds that the religious backdrop of the first and second millennium blocked the growth of tools that hint at absence of determinism, and caused the delays in probability research.
The idea is extremely dubious; we simply did not compute probabilities because we did not dare to? Surely the reason is rather because we did not need to.
Much of our problem comes from the fact that we have evolved out of such a habitat faster, much faster than our genes. Even worse; our genes have not changed at all.
Kafka in a courtroom The O. Simpson trial provides an example of how our modern society is ruled by probability because of the explosion in information , while important decisions are made without the smallest regard for its basic laws. We are capable of sending a spacecraft to Mars, but we are incapable of having criminal trials managed by the basic laws of probability - yet evidence is clearly a probabilistic notion.
I remember buying a book on probability at a Borders Books chain bookstore only a short distance from the Los Angeles courthouse where the "trial of the century" was taking place - another book that crystallized the highly sophisticated quantitative knowledge in the field. How could such a leap in knowledge elude lawyers and jurors only a few miles away? People who are as close to being criminal as probability laws can allow us to infer that is with a confidence that exceeds the shadow of a doubt are walking free because of our misunderstanding of basic concepts of the odds.
You could be convicted for a crime you never committed owing to a poor reading of probability - for we still cannot have a court of law properly compute the joint probability of events the probability of two events taking place at the same time.
I was in a dealing room with a TV set turned on when I saw one of the lawyers arguing that there were at least four people in Los Angeles capable of carrying O. Simpson's DNA characteristics thus ignoring the joint set of events - we will see how in the next paragraph.
I then switched off the television set in disgust, causing an uproar among the traders. I was under the impression until then that sophistry had been eliminated from legal cases thanks to the high standards of republican Rome.
Isn't the law devoted to the truth? How can we expect the untrained person to understand randomness when a Harvard professor who deals and teaches the concept of probabilistic evidence can make such an incorrect statement?
More particularly, where jurors and lawyers tend to make mistakes, along with the rest of us, is in the notion of joint probability. They do not realize that evidence compounds. Arguing that O. I can surprise people by saying that the probability of the joint event is lower than either. Behavioral economists submitted rational and educated people graduate students to tests where they needed to produce the probability of a young woman with a liberal arts education being a bank teller or a feminist bank teller.
They assigned on average a higher probability to her being a feminist bank teller than to that of her being a bank teller. I am glad to be a trader taking advantage of people's biases but I am scared of living in such a society. It spawned an entire literature of the absurd; the world may be too incongruous for us. I am terrified of certain lawyers.
After listening to statements during the O. We said that mere judgment would probably suffice in a primitive society. It is easy for a society to live without mathematics - or traders to trade without quantitative methods - when the space of possible out- comes is one dimensional. One dimensional means that we are looking at one sole variable, not a collection of separate events. The price of one security is one dimensional, whereas the collection of the prices of several securities is multidimensional and requires mathematical modeling - we cannot easily see the collection of possible outcomes of the portfolio with a naked eye, and cannot even represent it on a graph as our physical world has been limited to visual representation in three dimensions only.
We will argue later why we run the risk of having bad models admittedly, we have or making the error of condoning ignorance - swinging between the Carybde of the lawyer who knows no math to the Scylla of the mathematician who misuses his math because he does not have the judgment to select the right model.
In other words, we will have to swing between the mistake of listening to the glib nonsense of a lawyer who refuses science and that of applying the flawed theories of some economist who takes his science too seriously. The beauty of science is that it makes an allowance for both error types. Luckily, there is a middle road - but sadly, it is rarely traveled. Kahneman and tversky Who are the most influential economists of the century, in terms of journal references, their followings, and their influence over the profession?
They are Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, psychology researchers whose specialty was to uncover areas where human beings are not endowed with rational thinking and optimal economic behavior. Their research, conducted on a population of students and professors in the early s, showed that we do not correctly understand contingencies.
Furthermore, they showed that in the rare cases when we understand probability, we do not seem to consider it in our behavior. Since the Kahneman and Tversky results, an entire discipline called behavioral finance and economics has flourished. It is in open contradiction with the orthodox so-called neoclassical economics taught in business schools under the normative names of efficient markets, rational expectations, and other such concepts. It is worth stopping, at this juncture, and discussing the distinction between normative and positive sciences.
A normative science clearly a self- contradictory concept offers prescriptive teachings; it studies how things should be. Some economists, for example, those of the efficient market religion believe that humans are rational and act rationally because it is the best thing for them to do it is mathematically "optimal".
Think of it this way: Nassim Taleb has extensive experience in international capital markets. He realized these markets were extremely inconsistent and that the most successful investors had the least formal education.
Although they did not understand much about economic theory or knew the countries in which they invested, they knew the right time to put invest their money. It is therefore important to know that it is entirely possible to benefit from an anti-fraud system without understanding its theoretical principles.
To do this, you need to have options and choices in this system, such as options to buy and sell stocks from stock exchanges. If the system brings you opportunities, but with no obligation on your side, you have the optionality.
You may choose to buy or sell, but you can also simply do nothing. It is possible to be an investor without knowing in theory how market fluctuations work, as long as you have the practical knowledge to know at what time you should exercise your options and thus take advantage of the opportunities. The optionality exists in all systems. You use your options in all your day-to-day decisions, and they only fit you. You can go to a party by car, on foot or by subway.
You may even just not go. These choices are yours, and no one can force you to choose an option. Periods of inconsistency and uncertainty are inevitable. We go through periods of crisis in our personal, professional lives, face economic crises and come across unpredictable accidents.
To become antifragile, there is no need to avoid uncertainties. It is necessary to know what extreme situations can happen and prepare for it. Knowing what the negative part is, you can reduce your risks. By doing so, you may end up making less money on riskier investments, but on the other hand, you guarantee your financial stability.
Once you protect yourself against adverse contingencies, you should focus on the other side: This approach protects your equity, but it also gives you the chance to capitalize on a scenario where a positive element occurs and brings you significant gains. You do not protect yourself and expose yourself to positive and negative elements at the same time. Doing so means putting the future of your money in a condition of extreme risk and uncertainty.
If you do not have options, you are surrounded. Imagine that you have to make a hotel reservation in a city on a date where the flow of tourists is very high. You look at all the hotels, and you can not find a room. When you find the last place of the city, the price is very high.
When you are surrounded, you have only one option and have to follow it regardless of the cost to you. And the cost of not having options will be determined by the size of the pressure: In case of the hotel, for example, the costs may be high for the person who is reserving the room, but they would be worse if she had decided to take the whole family on this trip.
With the world economy increasingly connected because of globalization, the world is increasingly exposed to pressures of colossal dimensions. In economics, for example, if a large company is left with no options to survive, a domino effect occurs. Your suppliers, employees, and customers are affected, and as they are affected, other businesses and people continue to be impacted.
Any major economic problem nowadays is global and universal, and its consequences reverberate at high speed. These professionals were completely wrong, and the crisis cost the world economy billions of dollars. That is because, in areas such as this, professionals know each other, coexist and depend on each other, so there are great fear and care in making any more incisive criticism to a fellow professional.
Although their analyses and predictions about the crisis have been completely wrong and have negatively impacted the lives of millions of people, the mistakes of these professionals are quickly forgotten. This type of situation exemplifies a serious problem in modern society: In the case of these specialists, these people gain prestige when they are right, but they do not suffer consequences when they are wrong. The analyst on Wall Street and the other financial markets has become an anti-fraud professional because he is not taking risks with his attitudes, but with those of other people.
In the medieval era, bankers who talked and lost money from their clients were decapitated. That made all managers think of the common good and not just their gains. We believe that we need to make our community as quiet and consistent as possible. As people become smarter, they also become more arrogant and want more control over the world. Because inconsistency is something we can not predict, we try to avoid it and reduce it, to have control over the world.
Politicians and economists tend to think that our economic cycle of ups and downs is inefficient and unpredictable, and they work trying to understand how to control it so that it improves and evolves. They develop complex economic theories that point out the times when there must be intervention in economic cycles so that we can be able to predict better. Unfortunately, we do not know as much as we think we are aware and this means that, instead of improving our systems, we end up making them more fragile, without realizing it.
By trying to make these systems more predictable, we are stealing the volatility they need to survive and evolve. Without the inconsistency, there is no antifragility, and the problems are no longer visible, hiding under a false tranquility. An interesting example would be to think of a forest. Every forest is in danger of being burned down. However, the risk of a massive fire is reduced every time a small fire occurs. Small fires periodically remove flammable materials from the forest without reaching a significant number of trees.
The smaller fire is an example of volatility, a feature that helps prevent significant problems. As we avoid volatility, we are getting more prone to devastating fires. Our society has the bad habit of making predictions based on a narrow and small view of the past. It makes those who follow the forecasts may be at risk of consequences when the expected events do not happen.
Another shortcoming is to believe that the worst thing we have ever witnessed is the worst thing that can happen. The fact that there was a terrorist attack on September 11 that destroyed two towers in New York does not mean that something of much greater proportions cannot occur in the future.
Believing in our ability to predict the future leads us to have emergency plans for limited adverse situations and does not allow us to think about all the bad things that can happen. Emergencies can be unpredictable and unlikely, and we have to rely on the worst-case scenario to predict. An interesting example comes from engineering. The Fukushima nuclear power plant, for instance, was built to withstand the largest earthquake ever seen in the world.
However, its creators were not aware that a larger earthquake than the past could happen in the future. Most think that theoretical advances have guided the technological advances that transform the way society produces products and thus the economy. But this is not true. When the Industrial Revolution occurred, it was not led by academics but by individuals without formal education. The submarine, for example, was invented by a pastor and not by a university or a naval institution.
They came from people who were experimenting with new technologies and ideas to create useful tools. It was this dynamic of trial and error that guaranteed that the Industrial Revolution occurred, forming an anti-fragile system. Today our society does not understand the importance of antifragility and the official narrative of Industrial Revolution is proof of this. We do not like to imagine that our progress may have come through a system of trial and error, and we prefer to believe in more deterministic reasons for having advanced as a society.
Our society wants our experts to know exactly what they are doing and not for them to try and find out what works. It has significant effects on modern society. For example, several scientists end up getting resources for their research promising breakthrough discoveries from academia. These researchers receive money from governments and private initiative to create new theories and discoveries that will make our lives easier.