Antifragile chapter 24: Fitting Ethics to a Profession

This chapter bring us again the Stoic Taleb, who reflects about money and being rich. Fat Tony, again, gives us the meat on this chapter in a single sentence: “Being self-owned is a state of mind”. You can be a millionaire and still be a slave. By self-ownership Taleb means:

“It simply meant being the owner of your opinion. And it has nothing to do with wealth, birth, intelligence, looks, shoe size, rather with personal courage.

“In other words, for Fat Tony, it was a very, very specific definition of a free person: someone who cannot be squeezed into doing something he would otherwise never do.”

Part of the reason that having lots of money doesn’t assure you self ownership is iswhat Taleb calles the Treadmill effect: You need more and more money to stay in the same place. So you compromise your views and opinions in order to make yourself richer and richer.

The main subject of this chapter is ethics, and Taleb position is clear and simple: one should make profession adapt to some ethics, and never make ethics to adapt to our profession. He also returns to his idea of “skin in the game”, and how you should put some in your professional activities.

Despite his own saying that the section is a little bit technical, I loved his criticism of the fad of “Big Data” and how if you process enough information you are going to to find correlations for sure. He called it “The tragedy of big data”; the more variables you analyze, the more correlations you are going to find, but most are going to be spurious.


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