Writing

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.”

Here is the full text of the non-technical paper:

Nassim shares an excerpt from his work-in-progess Skin in the Game, at Evonomics. In a fascinating article called How To Legally Own Another Person, he discusses how and why well-paid employees behave much like slaves. It begins:

In its early phase, as the church was starting to get established in Europe, there was a group of itinerant people called the gyrovagues. They were gyrating and roaming monks without any affiliation to any institution. Theirs was a free-lance (and ambulatory) variety of monasticism, and their order was sustainable as the members lived off begging and from the good graces of townsmen who took interest in them. It is a weak form of sustainability, as one can hardly call sustainable a group of a people with vows of celibacy: they cannot grow organically and would need continuous enrollment. But their members managed to survive thanks to help from the population, which provided them with food and temporary shelter.

Sometimes around the fifth century, they started disappearing –they are now extinct. The gyrovagues were unpopular with the church, banned by the council of Chalcedon in the Fifth Century, then again by the second council of Nicaea about three hundred years later. In the West, Saint Benedict of Nurcia, their greatest detractor, favored a more institutional brand of monasticism and ended up prevailing with his rules that codified the activity, with a hierarchy and strong supervision by an abbot. For instance, Benedict’s rulesiii, put together in a sort of instruction manual, stipulate that a monk’s possessions should be in the hands of the abbot (Rule 33) and Rule 70 bans angry monks from hitting other monks.

Why were they banned? They were, simply, totally free. They were financially free, and secure, not because of their means but because of their wants. Ironically by being beggars, they had the equivalent of f*** you money, the one can get more easily by being at the lowest rung than by being member of the income dependent class.

You can read the rest of the article at Evonomics.

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!

Here is the text of the paper, which was originally posted on his website, Fooled By Randomness.

Recently Nassim posted a draft of an article, co-authored by Pasquale Cirillo, set to appear in the Royal Statistical Society’s journal Significance.

In the article, Nassim responds to Prof. Michael Sagat’s misreading of his and Cirillo’s earlier paper on the statistical properties and tail risk of violent conflicts.

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.”

Nassim’s statement on climate models, along with Joseph Norman, Rupert Read, and Yaneer Bar-Yam. He says, “We have *only one* planet and need to learn to live with imperfection of models.”
nassim-statement-on-climate-models
Posted on Nassim’s facebook page.

Nassim shares his latest monograph (co-authored by Raphael Douady) and introduces his new venture in publishing at the same time:

Descartes Monographs accept only manuscripts that have been rigorously peer-
reviewed or contain material that has appeared in peer-reviewed journals or has
been sufficiently cited to merit inclusion in the series. Its aim is to “Überize”
academic publishing by cutting the middleperson and producing books of the
highest scientific quality at the most affordable price. Descartes engages in ethical
publishing, avoiding double-charging the public sector for books produced on
university time.

From his Facebook Page.

Take a look at Nassim’s Small is Beautiful: Risk, Scale and Concentration.

SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL: RISK, SCALE AND CONCENTRATION

Chapter Summary 17: We extract the effect of size on the degradation of the expectation of a random variable, from nonlinear response. The method is general and allows to show the “small is beautiful” or “decentralized is effective” or “a diverse ecology is safer” effect from a response to a stochastic stressor and prove stochastic diseconomies of scale and concentration (with as example the Irish potato famine and GMOs). We apply the methodology to environmental harm using standard sigmoid dose-response to show the need to split sources of pollution across independent (nonsynergetic) pollutants.