Thinking, Fast and Slow. 20. The Illusion of Validity

Following the schedule of our Reading Calendar

In part 3 of the book we have entered Nassim Taleb territory, as David commented in the previous chapter. That is good and that is bad. Good because the subject is fascinating, bad because we already have read a lot about it. In this particular chapter all concepts and studies referred to are already known to us. It’s not even two different guys with similar ideas. The feeling here is as Kahneman and Taleb were teaching the same course in some college.

Having said that, and supposing that one comes to the subject for the first time, this chapter is superb. Reading it and understanding it is one of the most humiliating experiences that a young, optimistic and full of energy and hope in humanity young man can do. If it were not because of the fact that he is going to forget everything of it in a week, it could transform him into a old man in a matter of days.

The chapter begins with a bomb

Considering how little we know, the confidence we have in our beliefs is preposterous.

and elaborates on that till the end.

Some ideas stand out:

– We FEEL that we know even when we KNOW that we don’t know. This is simply devastating. You cannot trust yourself anymore. Devastating.

– Finance expertise is bullshit. This is not that shocking.

– Human sciences experts are useless. Their talk is just an invention that creates imaginary order in the events of the past and that predicts things for the future with accuracy similar to chance. I have thought since long ago that after the total failure in predicting the fall of the Soviet Union by any kind of experts (including experts in Soviet Union politics), no one should ever pay attention to this guys (and of course not pay money either).

– All experts are dangerous. This is a really shocking point. Experts, even those who are not CNN blatant charlatans, are dangerous because they show a bigger level of overconfidence that the rest. Even if they are right often, when they are wrong they can misled us all into disaster.

And now a personal reflection. I have known of it all since quite a long ago. Do I have all this in mind in my daily life or did I forgot it after some days?

As far as the experts issue is concerned, it really begun part of my life. I forgot about all data and studies presented in the chapter but I forged an idea in my mind that I use regularly: “when you hear the word EXPERT run”.

However, with the other issue, things are not that easy. Its so hard to admit that the things that you feel that you know you don’t really know. If someone has developed a method to keep that idea in your mind please tell me.

In God we trust.

Better to trust Him even if there were no God than to trust ourselves.

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One thought on “Thinking, Fast and Slow. 20. The Illusion of Validity

  1. To me, that’s the greatest thing about philosophy: to teach you that you don’t really know a lot of things you think you know.
    So a big bow to David Hume, Karl Popper, Nassim Taleb and Daniel Kahneman for trying to teach us that.

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