Tyler Cowen reviews The Black Swan

From Tyler Cowen’s review of Taleb’s The Black Swan:

Taleb does insist on the originality of his work—regarding it as a black swan, of course—and refers to opposing views as the “GIF: Great Intellectual Fraud.” Nonetheless, the idea of a Power Law as a deeply skewed and asymmetric distribution is well-known, and the statistical notion of “ergodicity” (roughly, the idea that the initial state of a system does not predict its end state very well) has been around for a long time. In 1921, economist Frank Knight drew a distinction between unquantifiable and radical uncertainty and the risk of flipping a coin or playing a roulette wheel. If these ideas have not always been part of the mainstream, it is because they can quickly prove intractable, not because they have been suppressed by an arrogant scientific community.

Granted, Cowen says a lot of good things about the book, but I still find this paragraph the most interesting. I guess it’s because it justifies me in not finishing The Black Swan. Taleb can’t argue I’m a participant in the Great Intellectual Fraud, as I don’t engage in research that involves statistical distributions and prediction.

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