Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of Antifragile, Black Swan, and Fooled by Randomness, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about a recent co-authored paper on the risks of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the use of the Precautionary Principle. Taleb contrasts harm with ruin and explains how the differences imply different rules of behavior when dealing with the risk of each. Taleb argues that when considering the riskiness of GMOs, the right understanding of statistics is more valuable than expertise in biology or genetics. The central issue that pervades the conversation is how to cope with a small non-negligible risk of catastrophe.

Link: Nassim Nicholas Taleb on the Precautionary Principle and Genetically Modified Organisms

Knowledge@Wharton: Nassim Taleb on Living with Black Swans

Nassim Taleb is a literary essayist, hedge fund manager, derivatives trader and professor of risk engineering at The Polytechnic Institute of New York University. But he is best known these days as the author of The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. During a recent visit to Wharton as part of The Goldstone Forum, he spoke with Wharton finance professor Richard Herring — who taught Taleb when he was a Wharton MBA student — about events in the Middle East, the oil supply, investing in options, the U.S. economy, the dollar, health care and of course, black swans.

econ-talk-library-of-economics-and-liberty-nassim-talebNassim Taleb of NYU-Poly talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his recent paper (with Constantine Sandis) on the morality and effectiveness of “skin in the game.” When decision makers have skin in the game–when they share in the costs and benefits of their decisions that might affect others–they are more likely to make prudent decisions than in cases where decision-makers can impose costs on others. Taleb sees skin in the game as not just a useful policy concept but a moral imperative. The conversation closes with some observations on the power of expected value for evaluating predictions along with Taleb’s thoughts on economists who rarely have skin in the game when they make forecasts or take policy positions.

Website: http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2013/09/taleb_on_skin_i.html
Direct Link (mp3): http://files.libertyfund.org/econtalk/y2013/Talebskin.mp3
Link to the Paper: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2298292