"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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Insurrector's picture

The Mechanical Universe was an AWESOME series.  Seeing many of the mathematical equations I had learned in physics classes  expressed visually was particularly insightful.

Jim Blinn, an early computer graphics programmer, did most of the animations for the series, as well as for Carl Sagan's Cosmos series.  I saw the series a few years after release when I was a computer graphics programmer myself.

I don't see modern science as hellbent on disproving the existence of god.  The problem is that faith and the scientific method are at odds.  Faith cannot be used to predict outcomes, and dogmatic definitions of god are impossible to prove or disprove,

I reconcile the belief in god with science in that I do believe everything in the universe is connected.  Quantum entanglement demonstrates that at least the quantum state of a particle (electron or photon) can be connected to another similar particle located a great distance away, implying instantaneous communication or a deeper connection.

How about you Phil?

Raging Debate's picture

Insurrector - Ok I liked this comment. I'll tell you my issue of global warming. So outside of solar cycles, poles, magnetism etc. It isnt that it may happening. It is that we seem to be merely accelerating a cycle (by mere smidgeons) of a cycle that already exists. The measurements of a model are not convincing of  how much

 And what is wrong with a warmer planet? 

 Polluting the planet with cancer causing agents in land or sea should be enough of a compelling argument about environmental responsibility. 

shovelhead's picture

Some of us are willing to condense the Great Religions into a concise compendium.

"Don't be an asshole, or if you have to be, make very sure of your reasons".

Sometimes simplicity is best.

runnymede's picture

"Hurt no man.Then do as you please."

King Pausole

runnymede's picture

The moment something is institutionalized it loses its soul. Official orthodoxy and procedures supplant values and morals. It then degenerates into a cycle of deception and coercion. Greshams Law.

vegas's picture

No Nassim, Obama is a professional trouble maker ... as in "community organizer"; he "acts" to get white liberal idiots on his side, but gives himself away when he opens his mouth without a teleprompter and tries to win an argument with his Libtard bullshit. Go ahead, go listen to some of his unscripted blunders on You Tube, and watch the moron struggle for a thought while stuttering his way to an incoherent ending. That's why I've always called him President Empty Suit; there isn't shit there and the American people know it.



Bemused Observer's picture

What the globalists don't understand is that the world they yearn for can never exist with them in it.

THEY are the reason they will never attain their goals.

I believe we ARE destined to come together in a global way, but not until the globalists have exited stage left. True globalism requires a sense of being in this together, and a 'coming together' voluntarily, and that is something these globalists have no clue how to implement. They try to use force, the only weapon they have, but it's like using force to make someone love you...it never works, and just makes you look pathetic and desperate...very sad.

What they WILL accomplish is to drive us all farther apart, which for now is probably best, cause we just ain't ready for all that 'togetherness'. And thanks to the Soros's of the world, that timeline just got a lot longer.

Pasadena Phil's picture

The globalists are the smallest minority ever to delude themselves that their money and new found power are sustainable. Their are already feeling how fragile their power is. That is why we keep reading of the survival bunkers they keep building in places like New Zealand. It's not WIII they fear but the 99.99% with our torches and pitchforks coming after them. They can't kill us all. They never made the slightest effort to persuade us to buy into their utopia so how do they expect to persuade us now that we understand what is going on and will soon be hunting them down?

They should have studied Roman history, especially the part where Julius Caesar describes absolute power like holding a snarling wolf by its ears. Eventually, you arms get tired. That has been the fate of every culture built on tyranny. Without moral absolutes, there is nothing to build a society upon and no reason no one should trust anyone.

shovelhead's picture

Generally speaking, most different people get along quite well once they prove to each other they're not going to kill them or steal their stuff.

Pared down to it's essentials, the difficulties arise when either or both those conditions are present.

Raging Debate's picture

Bemused - The elite in CFR and BIS (two entities that rule the world) are just being lazy. They are not striving for a global Republic. Monarchy by monetary policy is easy. Hey, I am human, I try and take the path of least resistence sometimes.

The difference between us is don't preach to me like your Jesus when the best trick they have is to hop on one foot or the other  (capital flows east and west). When such offer to build a global Republic come talk to me. It may fail as all republics do but it might give us enough innovation and wealth building to finish up our evolution.  So fuck them for the retarded narratives of why it's awsome to have a global monarchy making us all wait, stagnate and die instead of finish up evolving. 

 Those 85 families that own more than half the world? Great retards, you will live perhaps seven years longer but die shitting your pants when now, it is very doable to not have that happen within decades. Papa Bush is now literally shifting his pants. Maybe he should have focused on a global Republic than a 'new world order' which is never new nor ordered. 

runnymede's picture

Excellent ---!

Globalist sociopaths are (ostensibly) human and also will take the path of least resistance, which is enslavement by fiat money and monetary policy. Coercion is easier than conversion. 

It doesn't matter if you believe, just that you comply.  Which is why they will ultimately lose or blow it up trying. The State is anti social; it never has been anything but. 

Dodgy Geezer's picture

That Nassim Taleb. Sounds like a fascist to me. And a Wascist. Let's go and burn his house down...

Sid Davis's picture

One of the tragedies fostered upon us by experts is the supposed man caused global warming.  They not only faked the historic data to make it look like the warming is linear, instead of cyclical, but they don't have much of an understanding of the actual physics involved. 

Another of the tragedies is the polyunsaturated fat craze which is causing disease and death for millions of people each year.  These seed oils, previously only used for lubricating machinery and as a paint and varnish addative, are highly unstable, easily oxidized, and supresss thyroid and immune functions when included in one's diet.  We need far more fat than the low fat loonies tell us, but we need saturated or monosaturated fats, not polyunsaturated fats.

Another expert driven tragedy is the fluoride scam.  Fluoride is one of the most electronegative elements known.  It displaces iodine in our bodies, and since iodine is already a major deficiency is it any wonder that apoptosis fails and our cells easily enter an uncontrolled growth stage, i.e., cancer.  If you have ever looked at teeth deteriorating from  fluoride, you can imagine what your bones look like.  Expert opinion made our drinking water a dumping ground for what even the government would not allow to be dumped in streams.

On and on the list goes, from dangerous prescription drugs, food addatives that are not nutritious, but which do cause disease, pesticides whose safety is based on rigged studies, innoculations which in some cases are more dangerous than the disease they supposedly prevent, and medical training that will be regarded by future historians as barbaric stupidity.

Trusting the establishment is a risky business since they have a vested interest in you believing them and needing them.

Insurrector's picture

Yes Sid!

THEY are all out to get US!

Let's trade evidence.  You go first!

Chet Ricco's picture

Do your own research ya lazy scut.

Insurrector's picture

Hey - thanks for introducing me to a new word - scut.

Researching his vast conspiracy theories is a fool's errand.  His inability to back his claims clearly downgrades his credibility.

Insults and rants only change the minds of the timid and weak. 


runnymede's picture

I'm too lazy to look up scut

VWAndy's picture

 Well I got one for ya. They said the 100mpg car was impossible. Then it was done.

Insurrector's picture

I saw that article too in the Daily Mail of all places (online version).  Here is another link to a similar article from Digital Trends > http://www.digitaltrends.com/cars/stirling-hybrid-engine/

MacDowell, the inventor, used a Stirling engine design (dates from1816) with new regenerative hybrid technology. Very, very cool!

Not sure I understand your point, but it is an interesting story.

Chet Ricco's picture

Well said, 100 percent agree.

runnymede's picture

People are slowly recognizing significant counterparty risk in their institutions 

Griphook's picture

Spot on.

A co-worker adamantly wants Trump to release his tax records.  Why?  So we can find out where his conflict of interests might me, so we can find out where he cheats, etc.

"Wrong", I tell my co-worker.  "You want it released to someone else can tell you where all those things are.  If someone mailed you any tax records more comlicated than a 1040A with a mortgage deduction you'd have no fucking clue what you were looking at.  Some expert on NPR, in muted tones, will tell you.  And you'll believe it."

My co-workers avoid me.

Insurrector's picture

So I give up.

Why hasn't Trump released his tax records?

Dickweed Wang's picture

Is he required to?


No, he is not required to release his tax records.

The Gray Man's picture

He had some of his tax records stolen and released during the campaign and they revealed nothing the left could use. So back to the "he hasn't released his tax records" shtick again.

Insurrector's picture

I cry bullshit.  Go back and check the facts.  Only his 2005 tax return was leaked.  It showed a nearly $1B loss, likely meaning the snake oil salesman hasn't paid much in taxes since then.  Of course he filed for 6 Chapter 11 bankruptcies before that.  One way to make money is to cheat others out of their money.

To be honest, I don't really know if his tax returns will tell us much.  He has dealings in 20 countries with a large number of 'partnerships' and has money in offshore accounts.  Funny how he crticizes oher American business people for what he himself does.

The longer he stalls on not releasing his tax records, the more crooked he looks.  So either he is stupid or he is hiding something.


shovelhead's picture

Why haven't you released yours?

I'll wait.

runnymede's picture

Using 'expert, NPR, muted tones' in same sentence will always get you up votes 

aliens is here's picture

Experts are a dime a dozen now days. Offer them enough they'll say what you want to hear.

The Gray Man's picture

They're whores, and people are tired of whores telling them how to live their lives. And the whores don't realize that we aren't listening to them anymore. The debate is over, now we are just waiting for the fighting to start. To really start. Like Sarajevo.


NobodyNowhere's picture

Definition of an expert:  One who knows more and more of less and less.  Works bigly in academia, bureaucracy.

The problem is not the experts, but the system the likes of Rothschilds have built in which pseudo-experts get rewarded.


Berspankme's picture

I like Taleb okay but why cant any of these fuckers acknowledge Obama for the divisive destructive racist cunt community organizing american hating fudgepacker that he is?

NobodyNowhere's picture

'Globalism' has nothing to do with genuine globalism, and everything to do with world domination by a bunch of bas-turds.


Man has been on the path to genuine globalism ever since he (or was it a she?) invented the wheel (transportation) and the smoke signals (remote communication).

Batman11's picture

Things tend towards globalisation before someone makes a complete mess of it and it heads back to nationalism.

Rinse and repeat for all eternity.



BigCumulusClouds's picture

You just outlined my second reason for globalization.

Batman11's picture

Let's use a technocrat elite in Central Banks to run the economy.

Today we have secular stagnation.

That worked well.

Why are people losing faith in the experts?


BigCumulusClouds's picture

People lose faith in the experts because they are not experts. They are just whores who the media invites on their show. And boy is it a show.

WoodMizer's picture

Taleb seems to be spot on again. I agree with this read more than any I have read in several years.

Omega_Man's picture

When do we address the zionist moneychanger problem? It really must be dealt with... 

Israel can exist... but these crazed evil zio banker moneychangers must be stopped

shovelhead's picture

Don't let them control your money.

Seems simple enough?

Raging Debate's picture

Omega - Central Banking is a government scheme of indirect taxation. You have to take on your government to stop this model. Reality is, we Caan educate and plant seeds but unlikely stop it. World war again could stop it after massive loss and educating the survivors why this next one happened, same as last two. So yeah.... What to do? Hedge. Then set it aside and have fun. 

BigCumulusClouds's picture

We have globalization for two reasons. I will only deal with the economic one. If you have a poker game where only two are playing and one player is introducing counterfeit chips into the game, you can spot the guy, pull out your six gun and kill him. But if you have hundreds of players at the same table using the same chips, you will wonder why the bets are getting so large while you lose your wealth. Substitute players for countries and you'll see why the elites and the central bankers want world government.

jm's picture

The point made is good: theoreticians and practitioners start off the same, but then for various complex reasons follow their own devices, leaves people holding to theory privileged and those subject to theory screwed.

But the takeaway is no where near as straightforward.

Taleb likes to portray himself as a successful practioner in trading (initially), and then in risk management when the facts came out.  He is a practitioner, but it appears that he wasn't successful in those efforts in empirica or any other "buy OTM puts until it all burns" strategy.  It just doens't work. Also Taleb latched onto the ideas of Mandelbrot and successfully "popularized" them, to an extent. But when it comes to implementing the idea of kurtosis is an invetsment strategy, it falls flat. 

I would think the acid test of expertness is being not only informed, but being good at what you do.  Staying within the lmits of what you are good at is as deeply important as using "words" whihc apparently he think only idiots use.  His words, blokes.

Ultimately why should anyone take his views on pseudo-experts as anything more than the rant of another pseudo-expert?

Swamidon's picture

Did you intend to say "liberal" Experts?  And to be fair, you need to acknowledge the cultural difference between the opinions of men and women.

NuYawkFrankie's picture

re "There's A Global Riot Against Psuedo-Experts" Nassim Taleb


As the Jason Statham character says in Guy Ritchie's great movie 'Revolver':

"If there's one thing I've learnt about experts, it's that they're experts in fuck all!"


And ain't THAT the fcking truth - especially those "experts" in Washington DC... the ones who've figured it might be a good idea to blow up the planet if they can't have it ALL to themselves!


IAmNumberSix's picture

Typically when someone describes themselves or others as a wonk or wonky it's a dead giveaway that they are pseudo experts.

hooligan2009's picture

everyone is an expert in bulshit detection - except libtards!