Nassim Nicholas Taleb and Yaneer Bar-Yam
When, along with applied systems scientist Dr Joe Norman, we first reacted to coronavirus on 25 January with the publication of an academic note urging caution, the virus had reportedly infected fewer than 2,000 people worldwide and fewer than 60 people were dead. That number need not have been so high.
Third conversation between Nassim Nicholas Taleb & Yaneer Bar-Yam about uncertainty, certainty and what to do when there is a systemic risk; what not to do when a truck is headed your way. How acting early would have cost less? They also discuss:
- John Ioannidis recent post “we are making decisions without reliable data”
- Why we should make decisions without reliable data & use precautionary principles
- How the costs would be so much smaller if we would have acted earlier.
Jan 26 Coronavirus Paper (PDF) – Joseph Norman, Yaneer Bar-Yam, and Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Systemic risk of pandemic via novel pathogens – Coronavirus: A note, New England Complex Systems Institute (January 26, 2020).
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Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of Antifragile, Black Swan, and Fooled by Randomness, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about a recent co-authored paper on the risks of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the use of the Precautionary Principle. Taleb contrasts harm with ruin and explains how the differences imply different rules of behavior when dealing with the risk of each. Taleb argues that when considering the riskiness of GMOs, the right understanding of statistics is more valuable than expertise in biology or genetics. The central issue that pervades the conversation is how to cope with a small non-negligible risk of catastrophe.
On GMOs: “A pound of algebra is worth a ton of verbal commentary”. I managed to fit the Precautionary Principle into a few lines. The GMO paid propagandists are pounding tons of verbalistic statements (even an incompetent smear campaign), but this simple summary should cancel about everything they are trying to say. In a single column. They need to refute my representation or show that f(breeding) has the same maximum as f(GMOs).
Nassim has completed his paper The Precautionary Principle: Fragility and Black Swans from Policy Actions with Yaneer Bar-Yam, Raphael Douady, Joseph Norman, & Rupert Read.
Link to the announcement on his Facebook Page here.