Paper: SCALA POLITICA – Politics and Governance Under Scaling and Uncertainty

Most of the tension resides between 1) Embedded, complexity-minded, multiscale/fractal localism (politics as an ecology/complex adaptive system), and 2) Abstract one-dimensional universalists and monoculturalism (politics as a top-down engineering project). We go beyond the verbalism; we rely on information theory, complexity theory, uncertainty approaches (say fragility), and probabilistic rigor to look at politics with the same eyes as we examine highly dimensional interactive elements such as nature, biological systems, internet networks, and medical issues.

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[Medium] Foreword for Cut the Knot: Probability Riddles by Alexander Bogomolny

How do you learn a language? There are two routes; the first is to memorize imperfect verbs, grammatical rules, future vs. past tenses, recite boring context-free sentences, and pass an exam. The second approach consists in going to a bar, struggling a little bit and, out of the need to blend-in and integrate with a fun group of people, then suddenly find yourself able to communicate. In other words, by playing, by being alive as a human being. I personally have never seen anyone learn to speak a language properly by the first route. Also, I have never seen anyone fail to do so by the second one.

Read the complete foreword on Medium.

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Paper: On single point forecasts for fat-tailed variables


We discuss common errors and fallacies when using naive “evidence based” empiricism and point forecasts for fat-tailed variables, as well as the insufficiency of using naive first-order scientific methods for tail risk management.

We use the COVID-19 pandemic as the background for the discussion and as an example of a phenomenon characterized by a multiplicative nature, and what mitigating policies must result from the statistical properties and associated risks. In doing so, we also respond to the points raised by Ioannidis et al. (2020).

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[Medium] Lebanon: from Ponzi to Antifragility

About two years before the recent collapse, at a dinner, a then (slow thinking) member of the Lebanese parliament kept bugging me for an economic forecast. There was already some anxiety in the air. My answer was that we were facing imminent financial disaster, but that it was not necessarily bad news, long term. Why? Because such a total collapse could lead to natural responses that are better than the one we would have spontaneously, going from patching bad stuff to patching worse stuff. The lira was artificially kept too strong for any industry to survive and the financial system (the Ponzi) was sucking up all the money and destroying the economic substructure. But my point was that the (unavoidable) collapse would lead to an adaptation, the weaning from chronic foreign “loans” and, possibly, a huge bounce. De-financializing the country was a necessity, and people never do that spontaneously. Nothing was going to be fixed without a collapse. Was I optimistic? pessimistic? He was trying to figure out what I was saying and couldn’t get it as it did not fit his elementary static classification.

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