02. We Just Can't Predict

Dated Jul 3, 2016; last modified on Sat, 12 Mar 2022

Couples know that a third to a half of all marriages fail, but surely not them! 94% of Swedes believe they are better drivers than 50% of Swedes.

The more detailed your knowledge of empirical reality, the more you mistake noise for signal.

I don’t quite follow…

When dealing with policy, the worst case is far more consequential than the forecast itself. Also, the longer you wait, the longer you will be expected to wait.

“The longer you will be expected to wait” doesn’t match my intuition. If the bus is late by 5 minutes, does that mean I should give it 10 more minutes?

Darwin and Wallaces work on natural selection was downplayed by the Linnean Society. Flemming had even lost faith on the importance of penicillin. Albert Michelson thought that most of the underlying principles in physics had been firmly established in 1896.

Taleb is being inconsistent. Sure, penicillin turned out to be a wonder drug, but that doesn’t imply that losing faith in it was illogical - not all drugs turn out to be penicillin.

The growth of scientific knowledge breeds scientism: the belief we can weight the subtle changes that constitute the world.

It’s hard to figure out which butterfly in Timbuktu caused the NC hurricane. As long as we can’t reverse-engineer the equation, we might as well declare the events random.

The strategy is to be hyperaggressive on +ve black swans and hyperconservative on negative ones. Avoid trying to predict black swans because it only makes you more vulnerable to the ones you missed.