"Understanding is a poor substitute for convexity (ANTIFRAGILITY)"

Nassim Taleb
Nassim Taleb

Interesting article by Nassim Taleb (of “Black Swan” fame) about his new theory: Antifragility. Many of the last essays of Paul Graham have a similar tone and talk about the same principles. His seven rules are:

  1. Convexity is easier to attain than knowledge (in the technical jargon, the “long-gamma” property)
  2.  A “1/N” strategy is almost always best with convex strategies (the dispersion property)
  3.  Serial optionality (the cliquet property)
  4.  Nonnarrative Research (the optionality property)
  5. Theory is born from (convex) practice more often than the reverse (the nonteleological property
  6. Premium for simplicity (the less-is-more property)
  7. Better cataloguing of negative results (the via negativa property)

Nassim Taleb scores high in the “Crank Test” that Martin Gardner explains in “Fads & Fallacies in the Name of Science“. In particular, Nassim seems to fit this description by Gardner:

“Cranks tend to invent their own terminology, sometimes their own sciences, and tend to write in their own overcomplicated jargon. Beware of the article that discusses a science with terminology not found on Wikipedia. Beware of any scientist that invents his own name for a new science. Obviously all new sciences do originally need to be named, but the number of crank theories with made-up names is much, much larger. And beware of any article that is written with such jargon in an overcomplicated way that makes no sense. Don’t jump to the conclusion that the author is smarter than you; he may simply be a crank.”

Yet I agree with him in many of his points of view. Maybe because I like risk and don´t trust overcomplicated schemas. Engineering tends to demonstrate you that most of the time simple things outperform and are more versatile than complex/difficult to understand ones.

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