Taleb’s anti-fragile fail

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I dislike Taleb – i don’t like his tone, and his ideas aren’t original. He is not the genius he thinks he is…

Thus i was pleased to read this review (by Larry Wasserman, someone who is actually very smart):

I really wanted to like this book … The problem is the tone. The somewhat arrogant tone of his previous books has evolved into a kind of belligerent yelling. The “I am smart and everyone else is an idiot” shtick gets tiresome.

The book is full bragging; there are continuous references to his amazing wonderful travels, all the cafe’s he has been in around the world, zillions of references to historical and philosophical texts and a steady stream of his likes and dislikes. He particularly dislikes academics, business schools, and especially Harvard. He often talks about the Harvard-Soviet empire. He got an MBA for Wharton where he credits an un-named professor for teaching him about options. But, of course, the professor did not really understand what he was teaching.

We find out that Taleb hates TV, air-conditioning, sissies, and most economists. He has taken up weightlifting and, using a training technique he learned from “Lenny Cake” he can deadlift 350 pounds. He is now so strong that people mistake him for a bodyguard. You can’t make this stuff up.

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7 comments

    1. Yep, that was good too. That is more from the ‘so what are we going to do’ school — which is another reason practitioners get frustrated with Taleb. We all know that the pricing models are broken, but what is the alternative? It isn’t obvious that there are better models — and there is plenty of smart money looking!

  1. I read the book over Christmas. I am a bit of a fan – I like the dude. Trouble for many reviewers is he is scathing about wide range of ‘pseudo’ professions and much of academia in general. Economists come off badly (although not all), journalists, educators, financial experts and a big chunk of ‘middling’ all cop a serve. An entertaining read, perhaps a bit of a legend in his own mind – but I’d have lunch with him any day.

    ps welcome back.

      1. Haven’t read it. In a world where time is scarce, i couldn’t see the point in making myself mad. If the reviews had been amazing, i might have considered doing so.

        I liked both fooled by randomness and the black swan — but really they were both 20page pamphlets made too long (1/ someone must win a coin tossing competition; 2/ out of sample events dominate ‘returns’ or the things that it is socially useful to predict).

    1. I would be interested to have lunch as well — to see if his ego really does get the better of his judgement as it does in print.

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