On his facebook page, Nassim shared the fact that he recently presented “an English translation” of his technical thesis on violence, co-authored by Pasquale Cirillo and written in response to Steven Pinker’s assertion that violence has declined, to the Nobel Symposium, a three-day retreat for the president of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, the secretary of the Prize, a few committee members, and 20 scholars. He wrote:
I presented the paper on violence. Bear Braumoeller presented another one similarly critical of Pinker. After our session, the audience was split into:
1) Those who thought that Pinker was wrong
2) Those who thought that Pinker was not even wrong (i.e. not worth discussing).
And the agreement was to not talk about his thesis any further. Further, the organizer was told by Pinker that he did not wish to rebut our papers.
Pinker builds his thesis on works by Richardson in a way that is NOT compatible with the way Richardson [which is compatible with our result] and without showing the derivations. This it turned out is a CRITICAL flaw. Words and words and the central point is pulled out of nowhere.
In our paper: “As we also find out in our data analysis, consistent with Richardson (1960), there is no sufficient evidence to reject the null hypothesis of a homogenous Poisson process, which denies the presence of any trend in the belligerence of humanity. Nevertheless, Pinker refers to some yet-unspecified mathematical model that could also support such a decline in violence, what he calls a “nonstationary” process, even if data look the way they look.”
Nassim discussed definitions of success and his own life journey in this commencement speech at the American University in Beirut. The full text of the speech, published on Nassim’s home page, is available below.
Nassim, along with his five colleagues in the Real World Risk Institute, offers a Qualitative Mini Certificate in Risk (real world risk, not risk management) for risk professionals and analysts interested in how what they know applies to the real word, professional risk takers (with some basic familiarity with technical language) willing to gain perspective and understand how to use the research without falling into model error, and other executives/decision makers… literally any risk taker with some technical understanding. The next intense one-week workshop will take place from June 6th to the 10th at the Princeton Club in New York City.
A new Quantitative Mini Certificate in Risk, “the only quantitative program embedded in the real world,” will be offered from August 15th to the 19th in Stony Brook, New York. This program is designed for professional quantitative risk takers and managers interested in depth and links to reality.
On his facebook page, Nassim recently posted links to a new short technical paper on the probability distribution of p-values and a video commentary. He wrote:
I was able to pull out the exact meta-distribution of p-values (i.e. p-values as random variables).
The point is that the same phenomenon will produce p-values all over the map. A true p-value of .12 will produce p-values <.05 more than half the time, so people may never replicate and get the same result.
One Hundred Years of P-Value Bullshit!
Nassim kicks off The Bank of England’s One Bank Flagship Seminar, the first such seminar offered by the bank in an effort at greater transparency:
The first part of this talk – The Law of Large Numbers in the Real World – presents fat tails, defines them, and shows how the conventional statistics fail to operate in the real world, particularly with econometric variables, for two main reasons: 1) we need a lot, a lot more data for fat tails; and 2) we are going about estimators the wrong way. The second part – Detecting Fragility – presents heuristics to detect fragility in portfolios. Fragility is shown to be ‘anything that is harmed by volatility’. The good news is that while (tail) risk is not measurable, fragility is.
Some highlights of the Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies’ discussion on “Peace for Syria through a A Federal Governance Strategy” with Dr. Yaneer Bar-Yam, moderated by Nassim Taleb. Dr. Yaneer Bar-Yam, founder and president of the New England Complex Systems Institute, discussed complexity theory and violence, with a special focus on implications of the theory in the Syrian context.
Nassim just posted this one-page refutation to Stephen Pinker’s claim that violence has dropped since 1945. On his facebook page he says that “journalist-passing-for-scientist” Pinker cites “political science bloggers innocent of fat tails, who seem clueless about the difference between data and information. How to separate anecdote from evidence, sampling error from truth, journalism from science? Well there is something called a “test statistic.”
This also illustrates how to do rigorous statistics in the absence of a textbook recipe for a fat-tailed process, by means of Monte Carlo analyses. I will be teaching a course called “Extreme Risk Analytics” at NYU-Engineering this fall and will have to produce an 80 page lecture notes booklet, which I will write progressively from interaction with the class. SILENT RISK is too advanced, so I need a more introductory book.”