Nassim Taleb on the Fragilista

This is one of those things that it’s easy to recognize in others, difficult to see in ourselves.

Fragilistas are naive rationalists.

They think that the reasons for things are, by default, accessible to them. They know the cause and effect of everything, or at least that’s what they think.

Because they mistake what they don’t know for the non-existent, they exhibit a strong — if mistaken — regard for the powers of reason.

Fragilista condensed version:
When you’re dead, you don’t know you’re dead. The pain is only felt by others. The same thing happens when you’re stupid.


I’d change it up a bit from “when you’re stupid” to “when you’re being stupid” Only maybe a bit kinder.

There is a heavy bias in our industry and profession for linear thinking.

I am not a linear thinker so I’m often met with comments like “are you going to do the job or not” and “don’t overthink it”.

My own way to get things done and prevent injury is by having strong convictions that are weakly held.

I have been reading a lot of finance books lately and found that many of the most successful Wall Street traders also live by this theory. On wall street you either bet or don’t bet and it’s always easy to find reasons for sitting on the sidelines.

The successful have the confidence to make large bets but then start looking for proof that their hypothesis is wrong.

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Hmmm, “strategic thinking vs tactical”… While strategic thinking from the business sense serves us well for maritime business ventures- linear thought process probably works best. Problem solving aboard vessels as a Master or Ch Engr requires an appreciable of “out of the box thinking” or non-linear thought process in my opinion…

Just a bit of hyperbole to make a point.

This perfectly describes every progressive politician, ever. How do you describe the conservative counterpart, who states that the full consequences of any intervention are unknowable and probably detrimental?

Anyway, this reinforces my belief that agnosticism is the only enlightened answer to pretty much anything, if often unproductive.


A Burkean Conservative


I thought politics where off the table.

General posts about the French Revolution are OK.

Either way the OP is just general, not specific to any particular subject.

I really liked The Black Swan", the latter books a bit less and less but Taleb has some great quotes.

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