Medium Post: An Expert Called Lindy

(Background. The Black Swan explains the domain-dependence of expertise: why the electrician, dentist, are experts, while the journalist, State Department bureaucrat, and macroeconomist are not. Since then, there has been a global movement against the pseudo-expert, the serial incompetence of a certain class of babbling and pompous operatives across bureaucrato-academic professions. Which leads to the question: who is the real expert? Who decides on who is and who is not expert? Where is the metaexpert? Time it is. Or, rather, Lindy.)

Lindy is a deli in New York, now a tourist trap, that proudly claims to be famous for its cheesecake, but in fact has been known for the fifty or so years of interpretation by physicists and mathematicians of the heuristic that developed there. Actors who hung out there gossiping about other actors discovered that Broadway shows that lasted, say one hundred days, had a future life expectancy of a hundred more. For those that lasted two hundred days, two hundred more. The heuristic became known as the Lindy Effect.

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Medium Post: Inequality and Skin in the Game

There is inequality and inequality.

The first is the inequality people tolerate, such as one’s understanding compared to that of people deemed heroes, say Einstein, Michelangelo, or the recluse mathematician Grisha Perelman, in comparison to whom one has no difficulty acknowledging a large surplus. This applies to entrepreneurs, artists, soldiers, heroes, the singer Bob Dylan, Socrates, the current local celebrity chef, some Roman Emperor of good repute, say Marcus Aurelius; in short those for whom one can naturally be a “fan”. You may like to imitate them, you may aspire to be like them; but you don’t resent them.

The second is the inequality people find intolerable because the subject appears to be just a person like you, except that he has been playing the system, and getting himself into rent seeking, acquiring privileges that are not warranted –and although he has something you would not mind having (which may include his Russian girlfriend), he is exactly the type of whom you cannot possibly become a fan. The latter category includes bankers, bureaucrats who get rich, former senators shilling for the evil firm Monsanto, clean-shaven chief executives who wear ties, and talking heads on television making outsized bonuses. You don’t just envy them; you take umbrage at their fame, and the sight of their expensive or even semi-expensive car trigger some feeling of bitterness. They make you feel smaller.

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The Syrian War Condensed

On Medium, Nassim posted a comparison of the Assad regime and the “moderate rebels.”

Juxtaposition. The way to analyze the situation is to look at the factions comparatively. You do not compare Assad’s regime to the Danish or Norwegian governments, but to the alternative. The question becomes if there is anything in the left column that is worse than the right column?

Note 1. Assad father’s operatives blew up my house in Amioun when my grandfather, then MP, voted for Bashir. In Skin in the Game I discuss this as “acting against one’s interest” (the opposite of conflict of interest). So as a scientist and a humanist, I have been setting my grudge aside in considering the far, far, far, greater cancer of Salafism or Islamofascism.

Note 2. Recall that I am a statistician. When I took a look at the statistics of the conflicts, most appear to be fabrications inflated by Qatari-funded think tanks and their useful idiots — by a mechanism the Indians call “Salma told Sabrina”. For instance, we know that Hama’s toll was not the 30–40,000 people report but the only real evidence is closer to 2,000.

Note 3. One may ask: are the “rebels” all theocratic Salafis? No, but the groups became progressively so by the minority rule: you put a single Salafi in a group of five, and the five behave as Salafis. This, aside from Wahabi funding.

Note 4. One may ask: are all people who are mourning Aleppo that stupid, so gullible to the think tank operators? My answer, alas, is yes. And it takes some financial and intellectual independence and a great deal of integrity to analyze matters outside the main narrative as think tankers jump on you like flies.

In the end I never imagined seeing the “left” siding with the AlQaeda of Sept 11, mourning the fighters of Aleppo and, aside from such independent journalists as Robert Fisk, spreading all manner of concoctions.

Nassim Presents First Medical Paper on Antifragility

Nassim will present his first medical paper on antifragility on Monday, November 28 at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. On Facebook, Nassim says that this is “basically, a more technical version of the book Antifragile.” He also adds “Note that this is not making any standalone empirical point, rather gluing various phenomena under the convexity argument, with necessary connections (if… then necessarily).”