Questions for Nassim Nicholas Taleb

I spent a very large chunk of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, sitting in my living room, watching the television, which told me nothing I didn’t already know. I spent a very large chunk of the following week reading hundreds of thousands of words in the New York Times, New York Post, and any other newspaper I could lay my hands on. These, too, told me pretty much nothing. Why this hunger for information, when I knew there really wasn’t any information there?

The answer, I think, is that an incomprehensible and unique event such as 9/11 is something which simply doesn’t fit well in our brains. We have an overwhelming need to fit it into some kind of narrative. Reading the newspaper and watching the TV quickly helped to construct any number of narratives into which 9/11 could fit. The US government created one such narrative, naming it the War On Terror.

I’m reading Nassim Nicholas Taleb‘s new book at the moment, and he spends a lot of time talking about the “narrative fallacy”. It’s something I’ll definitely ask him about when I see him — I’m hoping to have lunch with him on Thursday. There’s lots of other stuff in the book which is fascinating as well, and I know that I have an advantage here because I have a copy of the book and you don’t. But I’m still interested — what questions do you think I should ask NNT?

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7 Responses to Questions for Nassim Nicholas Taleb

  1. jck says:

    Fischer Black wrote:

    “Noise in the sense of a large number of small events is often a causal factor much more powerful than a small number of large events can be.”

    What do you think NNT ?

  2. wcw says:

    Ask about Richard Heath’s work.

    Some years back (~2002) I sent him an email about Heath’s attempts to measure human ability to predict nonlinear sequences in the context of NNT’s query, “why the trading floor?” NNT replied with interest in the paper, but I never pursued the contact.

    As someone who both feels most market movement is random and that there are such things as investing and trading skill, I always wondered what he thought.

  3. richardberlin says:

    Is/was Warren Buffett an investment genius or was he/ourselves fooled by randomness? (in short would an true investment genius give his fortune to the guidance of philanthropic neophytes with no track record, little training and questionable insight?)


    Richard Berlin

  4. Jjoce says:

    Hello everybody , Just finished Nassim Nicholas Taleb Book, I want to contact him by e-mail , someone could help me to find his E-mail Adress , just saw than somebody contacted him.

    Thanks a lot.

  5. Dave Cline says:

    I too would like to contact him. In order to understand Monte Carlo better I built this DHTML app:

    I thought he might be able to use such examples.

  6. Jelena Smarajeva says:

    Dear Mr. Taleb,

    I’m working for the Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt. We would like to know if it is possible to make an appointment with you in order you to give as a lecture. This should be focused on the volatility at the stock market and some of the contents of your book “The Black Swan”.

    We undrstand you are a very busy person and it could be quite difficulte for you to find time to work with us. We are aware it could take time. However we would be glad to get an positive answer from you.

    If you have any questions pleas don’t hesitate to contakt me.


    Jelena Smarajeva

  7. tahra mughal says:

    hi nassim

    i am curious about your comment on appearance and in particular wonder what you feel the role of facial hair is in perceptions of both men and women?

    thank you


    (ps does it tickle when u kiss?)

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