Here is what I wrote in my endorsement: Emanuel Derman has written my kind of a book, an elegant combination of memoir, confession, and essay on ethics, philosophy of science and professional practice. He convincingly establishes the difference between model and theory and shows why attempts to model financial markets can never be genuinely scientific. It vindicates those of us who hold that financial modeling is neither practical nor scientific. Exceedingly readable.

From the remarks here, people seem to be blaming Derman for not having written the type of books they usually read… They are blaming him for being original! This is very philistinic. This book is a personal essay; if you don’t like it, don’t read it, there is no need to blame the author for not delivering your regular science reporting. Why don’t you go blame Montaigne for discussing his personal habits in the middle of a meditation on war inspired by Plutarch?

Customer Review: Models.Behaving.Badly.: Why Confusing Illusion with Reality Can Lead to Disaster, on Wall Street and in Life (Paperback)

From Nassim Taleb’s Facebook Page:

Friends, comments are invited for this draft on a philosophy paper w/ Constantine Sandis, “ETHICS AND ASYMMETRY: SKIN IN THE GAME AS A REQUIRED HEURISTIC FOR ACTING UNDER UNCERTAINTY

C. Sandis & N.N. Taleb
Abstract: We propose a global and mandatory heuristic that anyone involved in an action that can possibly generate harm for others, even probabilistically, should be required to be exposed to some damage, regardless of context. We link the rule to various philosophical approaches to ethics and moral luck.


Link to Paper: http://www.fooledbyrandomness.com/SandisTaleb.pdf
Link to Facebook Discussion: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=515541175165176&id=13012333374

We’re more fooled by noise than ever before, and it’s because of a nasty phenomenon called “big data.” With big data, researchers have brought cherry-picking to an industrial level.

Modernity provides too many variables, but too little data per variable. So the spurious relationships grow much, much faster than real information.

In other words: Big data may mean more information, but it also means more false information.

Link: Beware the Big Errors of ‘Big Data’


“Those who have the upside are not necessarily those who incur the downside. For example, bankers and corporate managers get bonuses for “performance,” but not reverse bonuses for negative performance, and they have an incentive to bury risks in the tails of the distribution –& in other words, to delay blowups.

The ancients were fully aware of this incentive to hide risks,& and implemented very simple but potent heuristics. About 3,800 years ago, the Code of Hammurabi specified that if a house collapses and causes the death of its owner, the house’s builder shall be put to death.”

Link: http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/improving-managers–incentives-by-nassim-nicholas-taleb

Foreign Policy has an article on their website with reflections from Nassim touching on Fragility/Antifragility, the stability of countries, city-states and decentralizing government, Lebanon, the European Union, and US deficits, titled Epiphanies from Nassim Nicholas Taleb.


Nassim Nicholas Taleb has made a career of going against the grain, and he has been successful enough that the title of his book The Black Swan is a catchphrase for global unpredictability far beyond its Wall Street origins. Born in Lebanon, he weathered the first few years of the civil war in the late 1970s reading philosophy and mathematics — from Plato to Poincaré — in his family’s basement. War taught him how quickly fortunes can change, an insight he soon applied to derivatives markets. For Taleb, investing is about “hyper conservatism,” which includes making lots of tiny bets on wildly unlikely events — like a currency crisis or the banking collapse, on which he made tens of millions of dollars. His newest project is helping governments get smarter about risks, and his fervent anti-euro message has helped win him the ear of British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Link: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/10/08/epiphanies_from_nassim_nicholas_taleb

Just posted on Nassim’s Facebook Wall:

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Looks like a preview of what to expect from the economics and econophaster establishment. Davies is the gentleman there; others have not even given a simple thougth to model error and which domains are affected by it. But asking people to explain insults can lead to pleasant surprises.


When Taleb met Davies:

This morning, Nassim Taleb returned to Twitter, posting one of the technical appendices to his new book. And immediately he got into a wonderfully wonky twitterfight/conversation with Daniel Davies.

I don’t pretend to understand all the subtleties of the conversation between the two, but, for Tom Foster, here’s an attempt. Davies has promised a Crooked Timber post on other parts of the appendix; I’m really looking forward to that.

Read the rest here…

Nassim has released the “Medicine and Convexity (Antifragility), a summary (technical) sheet” on his Facebook Page.

Additional Notes For Antifragile. Note 1- Medicine and Convexity (Antifragility):

A brief explanation of nonlinearities as detection of risk in medicine (from antifragile), directly from mathematical necessities, or the ideas behind Antifragile.

Link (PDF): http://www.fooledbyrandomness.com/medconvex


Nassim Taleb has linked to a new paper on his Facebook PageHow We Tend To Overestimate Powerlaw Tail Exponents

October 2012
In the presence of a layer of metaprobabilities (from metadistribution of the parameters), the asymptotic tail exponent corresponds to the lowest possible tail exponent regardless of its probability. The problem explains “Black Swan” effects, i.e., why measurements tend to chronically underestimate tail contributions, rather than merely deliver imprecise but unbiased estimates.

Link: http://www.fooledbyrandomness.com/minexponents.pdf