Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Taleb and Black Swans

In the NYTimes today, David Brooks uses the basic tenants of Fooled by Randomness and Black Swan to make some good points about the financial mess we're in...

"...0ur tendency to see data that confirm our prejudices more vividly than data that contradict them; our tendency to overvalue recent events when anticipating future possibilities; our tendency to spin concurring facts into a single causal narrative; our tendency to applaud our own supposed skill in circumstances when we’ve actually benefited from dumb luck."

I also thought that Taleb's work, applies to politics just as well... Consider the prevalence of the 'pull yourself up by the bootstraps' and Horatio Alger Myth mentality of many on the right. Their thinking goes something like this, "Well, I pulled my self up by my own bootstraps, so everybody else can too..." When in fact they had a lot of help along the way and were very often the benefit of dumb luck as well...

I also think it's part of the Palin craze... How many people with low self-esteem do you know that are big Palin fans? I think the majority have a common thought, she's a lot like me... I like her... and I could be a good VP if I wanted to... whereas a more rational thought would be along the lines of... I don't have a clue about how the economy works, global warming, or Constitutional law... I've never been out of the United States and wouldn't it make more sense to hire somebody to run the country who is smarter than me?

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