I’ve recently read the book Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. It’s obviously not a diet book, but the principles in it are highly relevant to weight loss.
But first, a bit of background. We are all familiar with things that are fragile. If you drop a Ming vase from a height, it shatters. Something that is resilient on the other hand, when dropped from a height withstands stress. An example might be an iron bar.
But until now, we didn’t really have a word for something that gets stronger when it’s placed under stress. That’s why Mr Taleb coined the term “antifragile”.
A good example of antifragility is the system of airline safety. Notwithstanding a few recent tragic examples, air travel gets safer and safer every year. The reason being that every time there is a crash, the incident is scrutinised, causes are elucidated and then measures are taken to try and avoid it happening again. Every air crash makes the next one less likely.
In other words, the system is set up to respond positively to negative things. Every bad incident makes the overall system stronger.
“Micro-Mooc on a paper by Taleb and Tetlock (one manifestation of the LUDIC FALLACY). There are serious statistical differences between predictions, bets, and exposures that have a yes/no type of payoff, the “binaries”, and those that have varying payoffs, which we call the “vanilla”. Real world exposures tend to belong to the vanilla category, and are poorly captured by binaries. Yet much of the economics and decision making literature confuses the two. Vanilla exposures are sensitive to Black Swan effects, model errors, and prediction problems, while the binaries are largely immune to them. The binaries are mathematically tractable, while the vanilla are much less so. Hedging vanilla exposures with binary bets can be disastrous–and because of the human tendency to engage in attribute substitution when confronted by difficult questions,decision-makers and researchers often confuse the vanilla for the binary.” The paper is here: http :// papers. ssrn. com/ sol3/ papers.cfm? abstract_id= 2284964 More general Fat Problems with Tails: http:// www. fooled by randomness. com/ FatTails. html
Micro Mooc #3. The law of large numbers is the most important thing in life and science. It is the basis of epistemology and problem of induction. How many observations do you need to know if something is true? We get into the plumbing and show how it is too slow under fat tails. This is a simplified (but technical) presentation of a segment of “Probability and Risk in the Real World”, the Technical Companion for The Black Swan http:// www. fooled by randomness. com/ FatTails. html
A quick tutorial introducing the idea of Fat Tails in about 8 minutes, as simply as possible. Fat Tails make us understand the world much less than we think; they make much of the quantitative results in social “science” anecdotal (or worse, negative information). The main (more complicated) text is at http:// www. fooled by randomness. com/ FatTails. html