Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Intellectual Yet Idiot

From Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan:
What we have been seeing worldwide, from India to the UK to the US, is the rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking “clerks” and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy league, Oxford-Cambridge, or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think… and 5) who to vote for.

But the problem is the one-eyed following the blind: these self-described members of the “intelligentsia” can’t find a coconut in Coconut Island, meaning they aren’t intelligent enough to define intelligence hence fall into circularities — but their main skill is capacity to pass exams written by people like them. With psychology papers replicating less than 40%, dietary advice reversing after 30 years of fatphobia, macroeconomic analysis working worse than astrology, the appointment of Bernanke who was less than clueless of the risks, and pharmaceutical trials replicating at best only 1/3 of the time, people are perfectly entitled to rely on their own ancestral instinct and listen to their grandmothers (or Montaigne and such filtered classical knowledge) with a better track record than these policymaking goons.
This was published Sept 16, so, pretty prescient. Taleb is one of the few not caught by surprise. Read the whole thing.


  1. Great article, but I think the IYI are probably more than 1%. So many poseurs these days! They all want to be the kool kidz, and don't even realize that we think they're morons.

    And this. So much THIS:

    "What we generally call participation in the political process, he calls by two distinct designations: “democracy” when it fits the IYI, and “populism” when the plebeians dare voting in a way that contradicts his preferences."

    The label "populist", licked and stuck on the foreheads of Trump supporters, gets on my very last nerve.

    1. The label "populist", licked and stuck on the foreheads of Trump supporters, gets on my very last nerve.


  2. Replies
    1. Journalists that are wrong I can accept as part of the human experience. Journalists who lies, distorts and propagandize are despicable and should be exposed as such.

  3. "He speaks of “equality of races” and “economic equality” but never went out drinking with a minority cab driver (again, no real skin in the game as the concept is foreign to the IYI)."

    "...mistakes absence of evidence for evidence of absence."

    Wow. A very liberating piece. It makes me think of those people who cow-tow to the IYI because of some perceived superiority on the part of intellectuals, a feeling that "we need people who are better than we are to tell us how to live our lives." That is the same mindset as those who are happy to pay more and more taxes because of all the good things that are done with our tax dollars.

    Thanks, Lewy.

  4. Thanks folks for reading! Yeah, Taleb is not someone who I agree with on all matters but he certainly makes you think...