Nassim Taleb Datapoints of the Day

From Bryan Appleyard’s profile of Taleb in the Sunday Times:

  • Taleb’s fee for a speaking engagement: "about $60,000"
  • Taleb’s advance on his next book: $4 million
  • Taleb’s profits on Black Monday: "$35m to $40m"

And then there’s Taleb’s new health regimen:

The biggest rule of all is his eccentric and punishing diet and exercise programme. He’s been on it for three months and he’s lost 20lb. He’s following the thinking of Arthur De Vany, an economist – of the acceptable type – turned fitness guru. The theory is that we eat and exercise according to our evolved natures. Early man did not eat carbs, so they’re out. He did not exercise regularly and he did not suffer long-term stress by having an annoying boss. Exercise must be irregular and ferocious – Taleb often does four hours in the gym or 360 press-ups and then nothing for 10 days. Jogging is useless; sprinting is good. He likes to knacker himself completely before a long flight. Stress should also be irregular and ferocious – early men did not have bad bosses, but they did occasionally run into lions.

He’s always hungry. At both lunches he orders three salads, which he makes me share.

This contrasts with Taleb’s "top life tip":

Scepticism is effortful and costly. It is better to be sceptical about matters of large consequences, and be imperfect, foolish and human in the small and the aesthetic.

I like the tip, not the diet – which strikes me as something which can be maintained for a few months but not as something sustainable. To be "imperfect, foolish and human in the small and the aesthetic" is, surely, to eat things which are delicious.

(Via Baruch)

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