by Greg Krehbiel on 28 August 2013
I haven’t read the book, but after reading a couple reviews I think I might want to read Antifragile: things that gain from disorder.
The basic premise seems to be that top-down (theory to practice) methods don’t work as well as trial and error.
I think that’s true for some things but not for others. For example, should laws be based on trial and error? If, for example, we can make the world safer by arresting all left-handed people, should we do it? Certainly we need to be guided by some top-down reasoning on that one.
Theories seem to come with a different moral weight attached to them. The “broken window” theory of crime management might be true or it might not. The good thing is that testing it doesn’t compromise any deeper theories, so trial and error seems fine with that sort of thing. But as readers here know, I’m not a fan of trial and error with marriage laws.
A “fragilista,” according to this review of the book, is “somebody who causes fragility because he thinks he understands what’s going on.” Apparently Mr. Taleb believes the fed, the entire profession of economics, and most academics are examples. That resonates with me.
Fragilistas do “more harm than good by trying to root out randomness.”
Okay, I think I’m generally with this guy. The “put smart people in charge” approach to life is the cause of many of our biggest problems. On the other hand, trends in many contemporary institutions (news, music, entertainment, religion, politics) show that the mass-market approach is a downward spiral.
Can someone come up with a theory of where to draw the line? Or is that too top-down?
-- 2013-08-28 » Greg Krehbiel