Antifragile: 7. Naive Intervention

Following the schedule of our reading calendar.

This chapter is centered on the idea that intervention in a system, especially when backed by a naive theory of reality can be dangerous.

For a theory is a very dangerous thing to have (p. 116)

This could be a Chesterton’s quote. I have always wondered if Taleb knows Chesterton. They have so many things in common. There is a kind of rebellion against the tyranny of Enlightenment in both of them.

Medicine recognizes the dangers of over intervening. It has even a name for that: “Iatrogenics”. However, politics, economics and social sciences in general don’t grasp the idea. Over-intervention is common place with disastrous effects in a lot of different domains. Taleb offers us some examples with Greenspan (The Überfragilista) as the guest star.

Part of this over-intervention comes from the philosophy of modernity that calls for acting to solve problems. Part comes for our overexposure to excess data that makes us to live in a world of noise and to react to it.

A very rarely discussed property of data: it is toxic in large quantities -even in moderate quantities. (p. 126)

 

the more data you get, the less you know what’s going on (p. 128)

Procrastination is, according to Taleb, a natural way of our psychology to fight for the urge of acting and help to select when intervention is really needed.

And he presents us with a curious theory of why France with such a powerful state is such a prosperous country.

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