On the Intellectual Downfall of Nassim Nicholas Taleb

— We’re Not Fooled by Taleb Anymore

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From Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s downfall to the riotous take on libertarian principles—it’s a comedic roller-coaster you didn’t know you needed. Get ready for a laugh-out-loud journey through philosophy, politics, and even the ‘civilization’ of getting laid. Who said intellect can’t be fun?

Learn about the pitfalls of ignoring risk, the power of recognizing randomness, and the importance of staying adaptable in an ever-changing societal landscape. This post also explores different philosophies on personal freedom, corporate rules, and societal norms—all wrapped up in a humorous tone that turns heavy topics into engaging discussions.

[While this is a post for members of the blog, it’s one of those occasional ones I put out in fully in email, so get on the email list, and you won’t miss the next one. And because I don’t want to leave anyone hanging on this topic who’s not a member, or wasn’t on the email list…this ONE-TIME-ONLY, I’ve made the whole post freely available in a beautifully formatted PDF. Go download it here.]

Introduction

He sure was the bee’s knees and cat’s meow all rolled into one, wasn’t he?

I first came across him in 2007 after suffering a huge trading loss in options (about $300K in 1–2 weeks as my credit spreads all went straight into the money, rather than expire worthless).

I got Fooled by Randomness.

We all do…and I believe that was his point in what I consider to be his best book. He wasn’t saying we’re all always idiots, but that at times, we can be if we’re not super careful and end up downplaying downside risk, which can wipe you out in very short order.

So, I fucked around; and found out, I did.

Owing to my now 20-year-old blog, 4 years young at the time, I blogged a lot about that book.

Randomness Happens

Then by total coincidence, it turns out he’s friends with Art De Vany which, if you’ve followed stuff going back to the Paleo Daze, Art was a mainstay of the “Evolutionary Fitness” realm, which went hand-in-hand (Sisson’s “Primal Lifestyle” and Ancestral Health as well) with all of it.

I’d become an influencer, had cordial relations with Art, Mark, and a bunch of others, and as a result, became known to Taleb.

He read my Paleo Diet book, gave it a 5-Stars on Amazon, and perhaps even more noteworthy, included it amongst his list of some 77 recommended books and if you look at the titles in that list…whew, I’ve never been in such esteemed company.

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(Later, he contacted me by email, and we had a brief exchange about including something from my book…or something else I’d written somewhere, can’t recall…in his book Antifragile. I don’t know what became of that, and assume it didn’t make it into the final cut.)

… I’d tossed that book together over a weekend with a couple of editors, using Google Docs to collaborate in real time, and it was all a bunch of published blog posts that we curated, sliced, and diced accordingly. A year later, I teemed up with one of those editors again and being a bit more deliberate, we put out Version 2.0 of the book in about a week or two, nearly doubling its size.

I’m giving the book away for a limited time. Enter discount code FREE1 at checkout.

You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me

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… Wow, what in the hell happened? What did I just see (I asked myself when he posted it 3 years ago)?

I was not the only one with such a reaction and more to that cucked-simp selfie he posted with the caption, “I want to travel this summer”—which came to become the refuge of millions of people, up to and including having themselves injected with an experimental gene-modifying drug that makes their cells produce a toxic protein, of which there are many (snake venom is made up of toxic proteins…killer peanut allergy? Yep, that too…and a bunch of other awful stuff).

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As to the WOW! in my screen clip of his blocking me on Twitter, I’m pretty sure that prior to the covidiocy, the list of all the smart people I follow who also follow Taleb was very long indeed.

Everybody who’s anybody followed Taleb. Everybody was interested in what he had to say.

Why?

Fragile Downfall

Really simple, because while he doesn’t know it and in spite of me being fooled by randomness in the options market myself, he’s a soulmate in this regard.

That is, there are two parts to it.

  1. We’re both very much misunderstood when we frequently toss around the epithets like “idiot,” “moron,” “stupid,” whatever. Rarely is it a blanket judgment…it’s a projection. In other words, “I can say you’re being stupid because I myself have been so stupid, so I recognize it.”
  2. We’re both—as near as I can tell—practitioners of what I call my rules #1 and #2.
    • If everybody is saying the same thing, everybody is wrong (being stupid, a follower, a regurgitator, NPC, etc.).
    • If half are saying one thing and the other half, the opposite thing, they’re both wrong (i.e., Democrats & Republicans; Blue Pill vs Red Pill, etc.). That is, they’re all still in The Matrix, where “the opposition” is for the overall health of the system… Utopias being too subject to entropy, requiring the regular infusion of hormetic stressors.

Perhaps others had other reasons for hanging on Taleb’s every pronouncement, but that’s my general statement and brief take on it.

Or, to put it another way, I’m never interested much in what Taleb or anyone else thinks is hunky-dory—I have my own standards, principles, desires, likes, dislikes, chosen values, etc.

I’m interested in what he thinks is shit and fucktarded. Given all the other mutual affinities, there’s a decent chance I’ll be duly informed and very likely that my falsifying reasons for rejecting something are enhanced.

(This is different from confirmation bias…which we’re also all susceptible to, but when you set synthetic limits, such as seeking the negatives and eschewing the positives, you go a long way towards bridling your biases in this regard.)

… So what the hell was this?

Fooled by Taleb

Have we been Fooled by Taleb all along?

How does he not see that the whole covidiocy fiasco and its follow-on drug experiment is wholly cut from the same cloth as just about everything he’s ever been talking about and lambasting for all the many quantifiable reasons he’s cited?

Was he using his cachet in a nefarious way… “I’ve always been a negative-naysayer, so in this case when I’m positive, you better listen up?”

And who knows, because about immediately, I no longer saw any positive mentions about him, and quite to the contrary. This was seriously a bridge way too fucking far and rather than notice he’s being abandoned and unfollowed and derided by a whole lot of smart people…and instead reevaluating over time, he goes and commits my “unpardonable sin.”

Intransigence.

He doubled down and last I saw, he’s still doubling down, calling anyone who didn’t want to re-inhale their waste-breath (like putting your own shit back up into your butthole) the equivalent of the sort of misanthrope who’s not just being a bit tongue-in-cheek about it, as I am, but WHANT’S TO KILL CHILDREN!!! just like any MAGA Republican wants to do dontcha know.

“Wear a mask. For the Sake of Others.”

Yea? Fuck off, Taleb.

So that’s the first really off-kilter, WTF thing.

Then later, astoundingly, he’s carrying water for the pharma companies…near as I can tell.

Forests, Not Trees

In his Medium piece I linked above, he issues forth with a whole lot of this-tree, that-tree, and tree-groves here and there. There are critiques of his data analysis if you search for them.

But I do forests. So here’s the forest.

  1. Almost all data surrounding covid and its global drug-experiment campaign is hopelessly compromised owing to whole hosts of bullshit like bias, capture, politics, antagonism, long-playing-out agendas, convenience, timing, and on and on. There’s only one that isn’t: all-cause mortality. A person is either dead, or alive, no faking that. We track those numbers, and it’s easy to track and keep straight.
  2. All-cause mortality shows a forest where covid, flu, pneumonia…or whatever tree it/they actually were or were transformed into in 2020 wasn’t all that remarkable given known variables such as mild vs bad flu and pneumonia seasons, along with the incidence of several years of lower-than-average mortality, so that kindling (or low-hanging fruit) built up and got quickly consumed.
  3. But you can find widespread excess mortality now, which is different from the seasonal-historical kind. It’s seemingly less remarkable because visually, it’s just a line plotted somewhat above the 5-yr-average baseline rather than as a large and pronounced annual spike from about December through March in the Northern Hemisphere. You can pinpoint where this widespread excess mortality began (hint: spring of 2021).
  4. You can run all the foregoing in different ways, but the two that will give you the biggest, greenest forest are:
    • Countries with lots of mask and lockdown measures vs countries that didn’t do much, or anything.
    • Countries with high experimental-drug-trial participation vs those with little to none.

And that is your forest and everything else is pretty much agenda-driven (for whatever reason) bullshit, and it’s a sad-state we find ourselves in where the simplest shit like that is ignored or dismissed because people don’t get to write laboriously long posts and articles with shitloads of charts and tables showing off their analytical prowess—because given enough careful and patient 1+1=2 explanation, a 5-year-old can see that forest.

… As for myself, I’m fortunately on record calling bullshit from day-fucking-one, never wavered, and am increasingly vindicated.

Easy for me to say now?

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There you will find the on-the-record documentation. It’s a list of 98 posts I wrote during the covidiocy and global experimental drug trail.

Read ‘em and weep.

Playing Libertarian in Sandboxes

… I’ll address one more thing, because it happens to be a particular expertise of mine going back 32 years.

In the aforementioned piece, Taleb polishes off with:

Sixth Error: The Non-Aggression Principle

“Libertarians” (in brackets) are resisting mask wearing on grounds that it constrains their freedom. Yet the entire concept of liberty lies in the Non-Aggression Principle, the equivalent of the Silver Rule: do not harm others; they in turn should not harm you. Even more insulting is the demand by pseudolibertarians that Costco should banned from forcing customers to wear mask — but libertarianism allows you to set the rules on your own property. Costco should be able to force visitors to wear pink shirts and purple glasses if they wished.

Note that by infecting another person you are not infecting just another person. You are infecting many many more and causing systemic risk.

Wear a mask. For the Sake of Others.

Where to begin? First, I’ll set aside the bits about Costco being able to require you to put your shit back in your butt if they want. Don’t like it, don’t go to Costco. Fine.

Also, I already addressed the altruism, and he can still go fuck himself (easy to do while putting your shit back up your own butt, too. Two birds!).

OK, the forest…

He’s probably not aware of it, but he’s a lightweight intellectually in terms of “libertarianism,” or its detractors.

Anyone who uses the NAP (Nonaggression Principle) is pretty much a lightweight philosophically and not really thinking deeply about it.

It’s a pussified, passive nuance of the real deal:

Non-Initiation of Force Principal.

And that’s it.

You know why Intellectuals-Yet-Idiots like to use NAP instead of NIFP? I’ll tell you.

So they can masturbate.

… By using NAP, they set up a strawman they can argue endlessly for, while all their circle-jerk partners can argue endlessly against.

(I’m a million-word veteran of Usenet back in the 90s and did myself participate in plenty of such online circle-jerks, where the whole thing just morphs into the exercise of there’s-this-tree and but-what-about-that-tree debate, rather than having any honest persuasion, convincing, or admiring of the forest going on. So, I’m projecting when I say this is entirely fucktarded. Been there, done that.)

Here’s the difference between the pussified, pacifist NAP and the masculine, bloodthirsty NIFP:

Because we’re men; masculine, warrior-like, and we secretly yearn to intellectually raise Mencken’s Black Flag while physically reenacting Conan, Khan, and Isaiah.

“…to hear the lamentation of their women,” attributed to the character Conan the Barbarian, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, in the 1982 film of the same name.

The quote is a paraphrase of a statement attributed to Genghis Khan: “The greatest happiness is to scatter your enemy, to drive him before you, to see his cities reduced to ashes, to see those who love him shrouded in tears, and to gather into your bosom his wives and daughters.” There’s no historical actual record of that I can find, but it falls squarely into TGTFC (too good to fact-check) territory.

The quote also resembles a passage from the Bible, in the Book of Isaiah, chapter 13, verse 16: “Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses will be looted and their wives violated.” This verse is part of a prophecy of doom against Babylon, and it reflects the brutality of ancient warfare.

In the film, Conan the Barbarian, the quote is used as a response to a question posed by a Mongol general: “What is best in life?” Conan answers: “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.” The general approves of this answer and says: “That is good!” The quote is meant to show Conan’s savage and warrior-like nature, as well as his disdain for civilization and culture.

“Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.” — H. L. Mencken

… So anyway, the point is that it’s because of this masculine nature—and thank God or nature for it—that what civilization itself really means is that in being civilized gentlemen, we train and prepare ourselves for the worst (or “best in life”) while always keeping a lid on it by never initiating, never starting it…but at the same time, being viciously competent, able, willing, and enthusiastic about finishing it.

Or, in the words of Gadsden Roosevelt

“Speak softly but carry a big yellow viper-flag mounted on a big-ass stick.”

… The NAP is for a bunch of virtue-signalling pussy-wankers and is formulated explicitly for that purpose.

“Oh, see, we’re so civilized. We’re not aggressive at all. We’re very gentle. Don’t you want us, ladies?”

The NIFP is for competent and able, masculine, and aggressive winner-men who know what the ladies really mean when they lament about how awful we can be.

They’re the ones who can and do get laid the most.

And that is the real story of “civilization.”

2 Comments

  1. Matt Miller on August 5, 2023 at 07:29

    This really bums me out. Taleb’s work has had a great influence on my worldview and approach to life. I always thought of him as one of the wisest thinkers alive. And I really enjoyed his writing. (It’s not unlike yours.)

    But when I caught a glimpse of what he was saying about masks and the gene therapy shots, I just had to look away. I couldn’t stomach seeing it.

    Maybe others feel the same, and that’s why he’s lost so many followers. It’s just that disappointing to witness.

    Of all the people that I once respected but ended up on the wrong side of history due to covid hysteria, he’s the one that broke my heart the worst.

    • Richard Nikoley on August 8, 2023 at 02:51

      I might have the same sentiment but seeing his behavior a few times while out and about, usually on Twitter, he’s been a hubristic asshole about it.

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