Nassim Nicholas Taleb recommended @engexplain @nntaleb 1/10Science is assumed to be “evidence-based” but that term alone doesn’t mean m...Tweet Sean McClure
Nassim Nicholas TalebBeautiful thread.
Entropy it is. https://t.co/0HMPlagqK9twitter.com Jan 13, 2021
Nassim Nicholas Taleb recommended Alchemy: The Surprising Power of Ideas That Don't Make SenseBook Rory Sutherland
Nassim Nicholas Taleb‘A breakthrough book. Wonderfully applicable to everything in life, and funny as hell.’ Nassim Nicholas Talebwww.goodreads.com 2019
Nassim Nicholas Taleb recommended The Count of Monte CristoBook Alexandre Dumas
Nassim Nicholas TalebI grew up under the cultural bias that "Dumas was for middlebrows", not literary, hence one should quickly read "The Three Musqueteers" when still in puberty, followed by Dickens, then move on to "real" and "literary" novelists like Flaubert, Zola, or, perhaps Balzac, as a preparation for, some day, the Russians. Dumas reputation was not helped by a posthumous smear campaign that spread the rumor that Dumas used an entire workshop ("atelier") of ghostwriters, no doubt fed with the French wordplay around a racial connotation ("ghostwriter" has a double meaning in French).So it was the most pleasant surprise that, during the lockdown of COVID-19, I accidentally got into this. Owing to the early developments around the pandemic, I could not easily concentrate on the usual material, so looking for a historical novel, I opened the book and could not stop. In spite of its length is built like a short (theater) play: there is not a single detail at any point that does'nt later on come to count in the resolution --and you know it instinctively so you do not miss anything. It moves very fast, but is... 1600 pages long (I read the French version).I cannot vouch for this translation (as I said I read it in the original), but I have not read more absorbing novel written in the past 180 years.Read old books.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb recommended The Statistical Mechanics of Financial Markets (Theoretical and Mathematical Physics)Book Johannes Voit
Nassim Nicholas TalebVery useful book, particularly in what concerns alternative L-Stable distributions. True, not too versed in financial theory but I'd rather see the author erring on the side of more physics than mathematical economics. As an author I don't ask much from books, just to deliver what they indend. This one does.
Clear historical description of Einstein/Bachelier. Hopefully one day we will call derivatives pricing the Bachelier valuation.
The book in short provides an excellent perspective on the statistical approach to asset price dynamics. Very clear and to the point.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb recommended Mean Genes: From Sex to Money to Food: Taming Our Primal Instincts
Nassim Nicholas TalebI read the book once when it came out. Since then I've had the chance to reread it a few times, discovering more and more layers as my interests take me in new directions(for instance the discussion on the happiness treadmill goes to the core of the current discussions in the economics of happiness). I now carry a copy on my trips as I can kill time in airports by perusing random sections.
The book is so readable as to perhaps set a standard. Yet it is complete in the sense that it covers more of the evolutionary thinking than meets the eye. I didn't realize it until I went to the site [...] and got into the more technical research material.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb recommended The Mind Doesn't Work That Way: The Scope and Limits of Computational PsychologyBook Jerry A. Fodor
Nassim Nicholas TalebThis critique of the computational theory of mind and the pan-adaptionist tradition is clearly so honest that it goes after the ideas promoted by Fodor's own 1983 watershed book "The Modularity of Mind". In brief the essay is an attack on massive modularity by saying that there are things after all that escape the programming (encapsulation and opacity are key: how can we talk about something OPAQUE? We know nothing about a few critical things...).
Granted the book is horribly written (that is Fodor's charm after all) but his argumentation is so ferocious that he ends up loud & clear.
The man is critical of his own ideas, and of the current in thought that he he helped create --one may use Fodor-1 against Fodor-2. Perhaps persons I hold in highest respect are those who go after their own ideas!
Bravo Fodor. Even if I do not agree I can't help admiring the man.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb recommended The Making of a Philosopher: My Journey Through Twentieth-Century PhilosophyBook Colin McGinn
Nassim Nicholas TalebThis is a great book but I felt something cold inside of me while reading it. I don't know if it is cultural (the modern English philosopher's fear of displaying passion) but I had the feeling to talk to a plumber who developed expertise in abstract concepts and their relationships just as if they were small plumbing problems fitting together under a generalized plumbing theory. Perhaps philosophy needs to be treated like that, just like engineering --but not for me. At least I give myself the illusion of doing something more...literary.
Colin McGINN teaches us that we need nevertheless to master the art of clarity of both thought and exposition. He write with perfect clarity: a clear, unburdened, unaffected, UnFrench UnGerman philosophical prose.
The book has a presentation of the Kripke idea of naming as necessity of such clarity that I felt actually smart reading it.
Other than that there is the feeling of drabness in part of the book of the type I got once at a conference in an industrial city West of London.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb recommended I Think, Therefore I Laugh: The Flip Side of PhilosophyBook John Allen Paulos
Nassim Nicholas TalebI found this copy last week at Waterstone in London . It made me feel the plane ride was very short! I should have bought a couple. This is a great book for a refresher in analytical philosophy: pleasant, clear. Great training for people who tend to forget elementary relationships.
I did not know that JAP was a logician. Go buy this book!
The only competition is "Think" by Blackburn (rather boring).
Nassim Nicholas Taleb recommended Bull!: A History of the Boom and Bust, 1982-2004Book Maggie Mahar
Nassim Nicholas TalebMaggie Mahar had the courage to take a look at what was behind all of this religious belief in markets. Clearly I do not understand how she was able to work as a journalist when she has the attitude and mindset of a truth-seeker. I spent some time looking at the difference between her book and Lowenstein's: not even possible to start comparing. One needs to be a trader to value her work.
Read this book now; wait a while then read it again.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb recommended Confessions of a Philosopher: A Personal Journey Through Western Philosophy from Plato to PopperBook Bryan Magee
Nassim Nicholas TalebThis is not a polularization /adult-education style presentation. Magee sees things form the inside; it is his own formation of philosophical ideas & techniques that we witness.
Magee was close enough to Popper to present us with his ideas first-hand (nobody reads Popper; people read about him). He also debunks a few idiotic myths about Wittgenstein as an atomist (Magee read W and realized that people read commentary on him rarely the original).
Magee writes with the remarkable clarity of the English philosophers/thinkers.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb recommended Intellectuals in the Middle AgesBook Jacques Le Goff
Nassim Nicholas TalebExcellent, be it only for the presentation of the difference between the pompous scholastic thinker laboring in the academy and the other nonacademic humanist laboring in the the "luxe calme et volupte" of his study.
Another of the attributes is the readability of the work Le Goff is a gifted writer.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb recommended Kant and the Platypus: Essays on Language and CognitionBook Umberto Eco
Nassim Nicholas TalebI read the review of Simon Blackburn trashing the book: Eco made a few mistakes concerning the two dogmas of empiricism (he confused Davidson's work with Quine's first dogma). So I am sure many readers hesitated after a review by such a rigorous big gun thinker as Blackburn.
When I started reading the book I was taken aback by the combination of depth and the vividness of the style. Eco is sprightly and alive, something that cannot be said of many philosophers dealing with the subject of categories.
The notion of categories is not trivial: you need a simple conditional prior to identify an object; it is a simple mathematical fact. You need to know what a table is to see it in the background separated from its surroundings. You need to know what a face is so when it rotates you know it is still the same face. Computers have had a hard time with such pattern recognition. A PRIOR category is a necessity. This was Kant's intuition (the so-called "rationalism"). This is also the field of semiotics as initially conceived. Eco took it to greater levels with his notion of what I would call in scientific language a compression, a "simplifation". This leads to the major problem we face today: what if the act of compressing is arbitrary?
Not just very deep but it is a breath of fresh air to see such a philosophical discussion nondull, nondry, alive!
Nassim Nicholas Taleb recommended The Dream of Reason: A History of Western Philosophy from the Greeks to the RenaissanceBook Anthony Gottlieb
Nassim Nicholas TalebI could not put it down. It hit me at some point that I was at the intersection of readability and scholarship. Clearly the value of this book lies beyond its readability: Gottlieb is both a philosopher and a journalist (in the good sense), not a journalist who writes about philosophy. He investigates and provides a fresh look at the material: For instance what we bemoan as the flaws of Aristotelianism during the scholastic period came 2000 years after his work. Aristotle had an empirical bent --his followers are the ones to blame.
I liked his constant questioning of the labels put on philosophers and philosophies by the second hand readers.
Clearly he missed a few authors who deserve real coverage like Algazali, but I take what I can get.
The only other readable history of philosophy is Russell's. This one was less hurriedly put together.Someone should bug the author to hurry with the sequel on Locke, Hume, etc.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb recommended The Status Syndrome: How Social Standing Affects Our Health and LongevityBook Michael G. Marmot
Nassim Nicholas TalebYou are a hot shot in a company, though not the boss. You are paid extremely well, but, again you have plenty of bosses above you (say the partners of an investment firm). Is it better than deriving a modest income being your own boss? The counterintuive answer is NO. You will live longer in the second situation, even controlling for diet, lifestyle, and genetic predispositions.Marmot spent years poring over data; he left no stone unturned and is well read in the general literature on human nature. This idea of people living longer when they exert control over their lives has not spread yet. That people lead longer lives when they trust their neighbors and feel part of a community is far reaching. Just think of the implications on social justice etc. Also think that everything you learn on human preferences and well-being in both economics and medicine is either incomplete (medicine) or bogus (economics).The book is well written, humorous at times, and rigorous --it reads like a well-translated scientific paper. But it feels that it is just the introduction to a topic. Please, write the continuation.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb recommended How Nature Works: The Science of Self-Organized CriticalityBook Per Bak
Nassim Nicholas TalebThis book is a great attempt at finding some universality based on systems in a "critical" state, with departures from such state taking place in a manner that follows power laws. The sandpile is a great baby model for that.Some people are critical of Bak's approach, some even suggesting that we may not get power laws in these "sandpile" effects, but something less scalable in the tails. The point is :so what? The man has vision.I looked at the reviews of this book. Clearly a few narrow-minded scientists do not seem to like it (many did not like Per Bak's ego). But the book is remarkably intuitive and the presentation is so clear that he takes you by the hand. It is even entertaining. If you are looking to find flaws in his argument his pedagogy allows it (it is immediately obvious to us who dabble with simulations of these processes that you need an infinite sandpile to get a pure power law).Another problem. I have been ordering the book on Amazon for ages. Copernicus books does not respond to emails. I got my copy at the NYU library. Bak passed away 2 years ago and nobody seems to be pushing for his interest and that of us his readers (for used books to sell for 99 implies some demand). This convinces me NEVER to publish with Springer.