"There's A Global Riot Against Psuedo-Experts" Nassim Taleb Exclaims "This Is Not About Fascism"

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Suhasini Haidar via TheHindu.com,

Economist-mathematician Nassim Nicholas Taleb contends that there is a global riot against pseudo-experts

After predicting the 2008 economic crisis, the Brexit vote, the U.S. presidential election and other events correctly, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of the Incerto series on global uncertainties, which includes The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, is seen as something of a maverick and an oracle. Equally, the economist-mathematician has been criticised for advocating a “dumbing down” of the economic system, and his reasoning for U.S. President Donald Trump and global populist movements. In an interview in Jaipur, Taleb explains why he thinks the world is seeing a “global riot against pseudo-experts”.

I’d like to start by asking about your next book, Skin in the Game, the fifth of the Incerto series. You do something unusual with your books: before you launch, you put chapters out on your website. Why is that?

Putting my work online motivates me to go deeper into a subject. I put it online and it gives some structure to my thought. The only way to judge a book is by something called the Lindy effect, and that is its survival. My books have survived. I noticed that The Black Swan did well because it was picked up early online, long before the launch. I also prefer social media to interviews in the mainstream media as many journalists don’t do their research, and ‘zeitgeist’ updates [Top Ten lists] pass for journalism.

The media is not one organisation or a monolithic entity.

Well, I’m talking about the United States where I get more credible news from the social media than the mainstream media. But I am very impressed with the Indian media that seems to present both sides of the story. In the U.S., you only get either the official, bureaucratic or the academic side of the story.

In Skin in the Game, you seem to build on theories from The Black Swan that give a sense of foreboding about the world economy. Do you see another crisis coming?

Oh, absolutely! The last crisis [2008] hasn’t ended yet because they just delayed it. [Barack] Obama is an actor. He looks good, he raises good children, he is respectable. But he didn’t fix the economic system, he put novocaine [local anaesthetic] in the system. He delayed the problem by working with the bankers whom he should have prosecuted. And now we have double the deficit, adjusted for GDP, to create six million jobs, with a massive debt and the system isn’t cured. We retained zero interest rates, and that hasn’t helped. Basically we shifted the problem from the private corporates to the government in the U.S. So, the system remains very fragile.

You say Obama put novocaine in the system. How will the Trump administration be able to address this?

Of course. The whole mandate he got was because he understood the economic problems. People don’t realise that Obama created inequalities when he distorted the system. You can only get rich if you have assets. What Trump is doing is put some kind of business sense in the system. You don’t have to be a genius to see what’s wrong. Instead of Trump being elected, if you went to the local souk [bazaar] in Aleppo and brought one of the retail shop owners, he would do the same thing Trump is doing. Like making a call to Boeing and asking why are we paying so much.

You’re seen as something of an oracle, given that you saw the 2008 economic crash coming, you predicted the Brexit vote, the outcome of the Syrian crisis. You said the Islamic State would benefit if Bashar al-Assad was pushed out and you predicted Trump’s win. How do you explain it?

Not the Islamic State, but al-Qaeda at the time, and I said the U.S. administration was helping fund them. See, you have to have courage to say things others don’t. I was lucky financially in life, that I didn’t need to work for a living and can spend all my time thinking. When Trump was running for election, I said what he says makes sense to a grocery store owner. Because the grocery guy can say Trump is wrong because he can see where he is wrong. But with Obama, he can’t understand what he’s saying, so the grocery man doesn’t know where he is wrong.

Is it a choice between dumbing down versus over-intellectualisation, then?

Exactly. Trump never ran for archbishop, so you never saw anything in his behaviour that was saintly, and that was fine. Whereas Obama behaved like the Archbishop of Canterbury, and was going to do good but people didn’t feel their lives were better. As I said, if it was a shopkeeper from Aleppo, or a grocery store owner in Mumbai, people would have liked them as much as Trump. What he says makes common sense, asking why are we paying so much for this rubbish or why do we need these complex taxes, or why do we want lobbyists. You can call Trump’s plain-speaking what you like. But the way intellectuals treat people who don’t agree with them isn’t good either. I remember I had an academic friend who supported Brexit, and he said he knew what it meant to be a leper in the U.K. It was the same with supporting Trump in the U.S.

But there were valid reasons for people to be worried about Trump too.

Well, if you’re a businessman, for example, what Trump said didn’t bother you. The intellectual class of no more than 2,00,000 people in the U.S. don’t represent everyone upset with Trump. The real problem is the ‘faux-expert problem’, one who doesn’t know what he doesn’t know, and assumes he knows what people think. An electrician doesn’t have that problem.

Is the election of Trump part of a global phenomena? You have commented on the similarity to the election of Narendra Modi in India.

Well, with Trump, Modi, Brexit, and now France, there are some similar problems in those countries. What you are hearing is people getting fed up with the ruling class. This is not fascism. It has nothing to do with fascism. It has to do with the faux-experts problem and a world with too many experts. If we had a different elite, we may not see the same problem.

There are other similarities, to quote from studies of populist movements worldwide: these leaders are majoritarian, they build on resentment, they use social media for direct access to their voters, and they can take radical decisions.

I often say that a mathematician thinks in numbers, a lawyer in laws, and an idiot thinks in words. These words don’t amount to anything. I think you have to draw the conclusion that there is a global riot against pseudo-experts. I saw it with Brexit, and Nigel Farage [leader of the U.K. Independence Party], who was a trader for 15 years, said the problem with the government was that none of them had ever had a proper job. Being a bureaucrat is not a proper job.

As a businessperson, you have a point about experts and pseudo-experts who you say are ‘left-wing’. How do you explain the other parts to the phenomenon that aren’t economic: the xenophobia, Islamophobia, misogyny, etc.?

I don’t understand how a left-wing person can defend Salafism, or religious extremism. In a democracy, you can allow people to have any view, but they can’t come with a message to destroy democracy. Why should people who come to the West come with a message to finish the West? This is where the discourse goes haywire. So in Yemen, the [Saudi] intervention is good, but the intervention [by Russia] in Aleppo shouldn’t be allowed. I don’t think Trump was racist when he said Mexican criminals shouldn’t be allowed into the U.S.; he was targeting criminals. If you are Naziphobic, you are not against Germans. If I oppose Salafism, I am not an Islamophobe. Obama also deported Mexicans and refused to accept immigrants.

Is anti-globalisation a part of this sentiment?

I am not anti-globalisation, but I am against big global corporations. One of the reasons is what they cost. Today, every project sees cost overruns because these projects have to factor in global risks as well. In nature there is an ‘island effect’. The number of species on an island drops significantly when you go to the mainland. Similarly, when you open up your small economies, you lose some of your ethnicity or diversity. Artisans are being killed by globalisation. Think of the effect on so many artists who have been put out of work while people are buying wrinkle-free shirts and cheap mobile phones. I’m a localist. The problem is globalisation comes through large global corporates that are predatory, and so we want to counter its ill-effects.

Where do you see the world moving now? Further right, or will it revert to the centre?

I don’t think it will go left or right, and I don’t know about the short term. But I think in the long term, the world can only survive if it lives like nature does. Many smaller units of governance, and a collection of super islands with some separation, quick decision-making, and visible implementation. Lots of Switzerlands, that’s what we need. What we need is not leaders, we don’t need them. We just need someone at the top who doesn’t mess the system up.

 

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hedgeless_horseman's picture

 

The NPR journalists being interviewed as subject matter experts by another NPR journalist on NPR disagree with Nassim.

BennyBoy's picture

 

Fake Experts interviewed by Fake News.

Perfect.

y3maxx's picture

-Second accurate article on ZH.

this is the other one...

-Exposing The Left's War Against Ordinary Americans

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-02-03/exposing-lefts-war-against-ordi...

Ramesees's picture

".. a mathematician thinks in numbers, a lawyer in laws, and an idiot thinks in words."

 

He said, not appreciating the irony in his cleverly-designed soundbyte. 

Pladizow's picture

Does Nassim consider himself an expert?

Manthong's picture

I’m just waiting for the next Soros Fergusson Event.

The Feds will swoop in like a Mongol horde and a bunch of Soros Black Hessians will find themselves up on terrorist charges.

NidStyles's picture

Hessians can not be Black.

 

 

I am the descendant of Hessians. No negros in my bloodline...

 

 

When the word is Expert is used as a title, it means someone is trying to get compliance without question.

 

"Respect my authority!"

That's literally what the word expert means when used as a title.

 

Murderface's picture

I don't think he meant it in the literal sense, but if we want to make keep it in context, we can call them Haitains, not Hessians.  ;)

HopefulCynical's picture

".. a mathematician thinks in numbers, a lawyer in laws, and an idiot thinks in words."

That was the one line I didn't like, but I've witnessed the sheer arrogance of some mathematicians before. Good interview, otherwise.

Majestic12's picture

"This is not fascism. It has nothing to do with fascism"

Fascism is the collusion between BIG BUSINESS and BIG GOVERNMENT...period.

It may be "totalitarian" like the Nazis, but it can also be "friendly", like good ole Amerikkka.

Capitalism is a free, unmopolistic market.

USA is monopoly Capitalism with Fascist support of big government that shits all over small business and competition in favor of big corps.

Big corp monopolies create cost-push inflation, in turn screwing the people.

If there were any kind of true "revolt", there would be masses of people not participating or leaving the existing monopolist system in order to crash and burn it.

All we see is puppet masters using govt and corp puppets to create a constant "distraction" play...act after act of pitting one group against another so that they never, ever, ever, ever, "look up" or "behind the curtain" to see the central bank-owning 5 Trillionaire families who control the puppet masters.

NidStyles's picture

Fascism is the removal of foreign opposition to the ownership of native assets and corporations.

 

The alternative to this is capitalism, which is internationalism under the guise of being positive.

 

 

Seriously, you're arguing against the state and the people owning their own property and wealth without liens. It's the state codification of the banning of interest bearing money and credit based systems.

NidStyles's picture

I meet with a mathematician every single day.

 

Even he will tell you that if you see him making a mistake that you should warn him. He makes about one a week, and that is pretty good considering how much math he does.

kiwidor's picture

I've made six consequential mistakes in my entire working life

the latest , number six, was the result of changing an environment variable in a program and not realising that someone else had changed that environment variable further down the program...messy. nasty.   fortunately , no major repercussions. subsequently,  everything was swim-lane'd by me. as a result.  disaster  averted.

your math bloke is probably a) a kick-ass dude and b) probably far more accurate than you describe.

perhaps your math bloke could minimise his distractions and interruptions and achieve a lower error-rate.

 

 

 

 

 

HopefulCynical's picture

Even he will tell you that if you see him making a mistake that you should warn him.

Hence my use of the qualifier "some."

However, I was referring more to the attitude, common amongst mathematicians, that numbers are all that matter in the whole of the universe. Problem, hammer, nail, etc.

Ignatius's picture

Agree.  "Expert" as a clever means of short circuiting dissent.

Herd Redirection Committee's picture

Appeal to authority, logical fallacy.

The Gun Is Good's picture

My favorite fake experts are the CFR assholes pontificating about Mid East policy....

JRobby's picture

Paid Experts = Propaganda

There are way too many paid experts = There is way too much propaganda.

This is the mode of message delivery, the world, the internet and 800+ channels has made. It's 24/7, it needs to be filtered to think clearly. Their goal is not clear thought but message frequency.

Turn it off

vq1's picture

One can call it whatever they want, but even if its called FACISM, Im on the side of ANTI-GLOBALIST, ANTI-ELITE, ANTI-MONEY-CHANGERS, ANTI-POLICY-MAKERS AND ANTI-CASH-HOARDERS 

J Jason Djfmam's picture

It's probably OK to be anti pedophile as well.

Majestic12's picture

"This is not fascism. It has nothing to do with fascism"

Fascism is the collusion between BIG BUSINESS and BIG GOVERNMENT...period.

It may be "totalitarian" like the Nazis, but it can also be "friendly", like good ole Amerikkka.

Capitalism is a free, unmopolistic market.

USA is monopoly Capitalism with Fascist support of big government that shits all over small business and competition in favor of big corps.

Big corp monopolies create cost-push inflation, in turn screwing the people.

If there were any kind of true "revolt", there would be masses of people not participating or leaving the existing monopolist system in order to crash and burn it.

All we see is puppet masters using govt and corp puppets to create a constant "distraction" play...act after act of pitting one group against another so that they never, ever, ever, ever, "look up" or "behind the curtain" to see the central bank-owning 5 Trillionaire families who control the puppet masters.

NidStyles's picture

You are so ignorant.

 

There never has been a group called Nazis. The German National Socialists were not Fascist. They were National Socialists. The only thing that is remotely similar between the two is that they both ban interest bearing money outright. Otherwise they are completely different systems.

 

Capitalism is what the Jews want, you know that Marx was a Jew right? You know the guy that came up with the term Capitalism? Capitalism is Interest Bearing money with international ownership of goods and corporations. We have that system now. We don't want it anymore, because we have no power in it, and it's destroying us. Hence the Populists and anti-Interest groups are popping up everywhere.

 

You're pushing communist propaganda. The US was and has always meant to be Fascist, because we were NEVER meant to have interest bearing currency or international ownership of the banks or corporations. It was also always meant to be a National SOcialist system, in that only Whites were meant to migrate here.

 

Go figure, you're handle is that of that shitty conspiracy too, so it would be fitting that you would peddling BS for someone.

 

Yog Soggoth's picture

All I know is, Hey, I resemble that remark? Not sure if I should walk the fence or climb through it. Could be some mean cows on the other side, and then I would have to jump back over.

The Wizard's picture

Does Nassim consider himself an expert?

By the tone of his article, I don't believe so. It goes beyond pseudo experts.

Most Americans are caught in a delusion. An illusion broght on by deception. This is why Disneyland is so popular. People love living in a comfortable fantasy.

mofreedom's picture

I never had the luxury of being raised to seek comfort in the hammock of life that spins you dizzy dumb and have never sought it out since and will not in the future.

I'm lucky to just be here.

BandGap's picture

I truly believe a lot of people have given up thinking in a critical sense. At this point a lot of people have little ability to see beyond MSNBC and the like. And they do not mind. The have weed and an XBox, maybe an occasional girlfriend and a kid or two.

 

Raging Debate's picture

Band Gap - Nothing wrong with simple pleasures. If your a millenial what else are you supposed to do with a 30 hour a week job that pays crap? Nassim admits he was lucky, to be able to spend time thinking and projecting. Good trait, being humble though I doubt it was all luck or connections with Nassim. 

The meme from the past 30-40 years was on equality deception.

 What media which parroted corporate captured government left out was 'equality under the law'. Justice is a concept more important and a cornerstone of a Republic. Equality is an easy push down into wedge issues, a distraction from getting robbed on trade, empire building, cheap labor etc.

Concepts are at the top of the thought pyramid. The middle part of the pyramid is issues then bottom part details. If you draw this out on a piece of paper this all starts to make sense how easy it is to push a concept down into wedge issues. The people do finally wake up that it is a justice concept that must be focused on but by then the loot is gone. 

 

 

 

 

Herd Redirection Committee's picture

Spot on.  Does society need more laws?  Or are the crimes being committed ALREADY ILLEGAL, but we suffer from lack of enforcement, because of WHO is committing the crimes (billionaire sociopaths)?

Raging Debate's picture

Herd - My opinion is we have created too many laws, creating a pretzel. The myriads of laws are exemptions to a portion of society. So to me this many laws mirror exemption of a practical rule of law. From a business perspective only the biggest companies with capital can afford a crude intepretation. The small guy doesn't stand a chance. I helped my fiancee with her taxes last year. HR Block employee sneered at me (expert) when I told him the law had changed in December 2015 and claimed he was trained as an expert. My fiancee would have overpaid by $4k if I hadn't gotten involved. I am lucky also like Nassim (but not nearly as well off as Nassim). But point is I had time to do this and follow up on legal tax changes.

Truth is, if I had to work 40 hours a week I just couldn't at this point. I hope I added value in my response. What does a person do about this? The only answer is to educate oneself, raise income, rinse and repeat, you may only have a few hours a week to spare and will have to view both dominant sides and alternative media. So you don't get robbed because almost none of us will ever be a Senator, Congress person or POTUS to self exempt. But you should know where some tax exemptions and scams lay (a lot on financial side). 

Bastiat 'The Law' is a simple short read on how people in groups in power tend to act. Educating, at least gives the outline, big picture view of how to get ahead and prevent being robbed. Sadly, my education is to look like I own very little based on law as an entrepreneur. 

centerline's picture

Creating endless new laws just casts the impression that beaurocrats are actually doing something about the problems when in reality they are benefitting from them.

Laws are not equally applied.  Never have been really.  But, now, it is wide open for all to see.  We are staring at the bricks at the back of the stage now (Zappa) - thinking it is another prop.  Once it dawns on people though, all bets are off.  Getting closer each day.

 

If you want to really puke... 

https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/222/text

Here is this problem is broad daylight waving it's schlong in our faces.

Ex-Oligarch's picture

"If your a millenial what else are you supposed to do with a 30 hour a week job ...? Nassim admits he was lucky, to be able to spend time thinking ...."

Hmmmm.  So, millenials with extra time due to working part-time could spend it thinking, couldn't they?  I think you're arguing the other guy's point.

Diogenes The Mimic's picture

>"I truly believe a lot of people have given up thinking in a critical sense."

"Given up" implies they were ever doing it in the first place.  They haven't changed, you have.   You're no longer under the delusion that people are rational.  They've always been irrational.

shovelhead's picture

Are you an expert?

Would you place that 'most' at 51% or 99%?

booboo's picture

Well he thought and spoke in "words" so I'll just leave it at that.

The Wizard's picture

Does Nassim consider himself an expert?

By the tone of his article, I don't believe so. It goes beyond pseudo experts.

Most Americans are caught in a delusion. An illusion brought on by deception. This is why Disneyland is so popular. People love living in a comfortable fantasy.

The pseudo-experts are these people who have been dumbed down by the educational system who believe they are smarter than everyone else because they have degrees. I have plenty of degrees which is why I can give first hand knowledge that the institutions of "higher" learning are indoctrination camps. The system doesn't want people who can apply critical thinking. George Carlin had that down pat.

ebear's picture

Danger Will Robinson!

Saucy-Jack's picture

He's and economist and mathematician who uses numbers and facts to put his words together.

williambanzai7's picture

Whatever he is, he is always thought provoking. And has an uncanny track record when it comes to being right on the money, unlike the self important "experts".

Sanity Bear's picture

The core concept everyone is missing is "humility".

... as in understanding that you don't really know anything that you haven't verified firsthand, and even then have to admit some possibility of deception... that the best you can do is establish the probability of something being true with a level of due diligence appropriate to the situation, and hope you got it right.

The only way one can 100% know something to be true is if he flat-out defines it so, and sticks rigorously to the definition. But then we must always admit, as imperfectly rational as Man is, the possibility of errors in logic and blindness brought of unwillingness to consider the full spectrum of available information, or from priorities deformed by pride.

Raging Debate's picture

Bear - Good comment about humility. I just posted how I respect Taleb's humility, also wisdom of peer review using social media before publishing his books. 

ThirdWorldDude's picture

Humility is vital for keeping a sane worldview, because it makes you doubt your own knowledge and conclusions and thus you're on a neverending project of R&Ding yourself.

Also, if you consider that the opposite of humility is hubris and see how abundant that trait is with IYI's (faux experts), you get the picture.

Raging Debate's picture

Third World Dude - I was fortunate I liked history and had good teachers when I kept asking why things would happen. They helped encourage me. After that chose entrepreneurship so I had to learn 'why' or die financially. I had a year in 2013 when ego got to my head for a short spell. It served me not at all. 

ebear's picture

I had the opposite experience in grade ten.  Our history teacher put it to a vote whether we preferred to study Medieval England, or Ancient Egypt.  Most of the class had studied Medieval England the year before, and saw an easy out using last year's notes.  I pointed out that we'd already covered that, so why not learn something new?  You can imagine how that went over.

Our teacher had a choice in front of him and took the easy way out.  He should have asked for a show of hands on who had studied what, and gone with the minority.  The fact that he had someone in his class that could see that and called him on it didn't matter.  The die was already cast and I was a suspicious character from that point forward.

Between that experience and grade 10 physics where I got slapped down for knowing more than my teacher, I realized if I was going to learn anything of substance I would have to do it on my own.  I dropped out of high school in grade 11, then a few years later bluffed my way into college. That turned out to be a waste of time also, so as before, I just kept learning on my own.  Still doing it.

monk27's picture

Humility is also a highly appreciated trait in the civilizational mix of the Middle East. Taleb is Lebanese... that would explain, at least partially, his character. Over there, this is a survival skill.

Mustafa Kemal's picture

"".. a mathematician thinks in numbers"

Had to laugh when I saw that.

Most of us definitely do not. That doesnt mean to say that some of what he says does not make sense. But this doesnt.

Toxicosis's picture

Wait, so as a mathematician you don't think in numbers.  Is that the same as a chemist who doesn't think in chemical terms in their chosen field, or the physicist who doesn't think in the numbers or concepts in their related field.  Could you please clarify, since I graduated in chemistry and certainly in my line of work I have to think in and apply how both life works through both laws of chemistry and physics. 

LyLo's picture

This actually kind of pisses me off.  I know people that do think in numbers.  None of them are lucky enough to be mathematicians or in the intellectual class at all.

Thank god you got that piece of paper, amiright?  Fucking credentialism...