Notes business

Book 1 (Skin in the Game)

In Book 1, Taleb introduces an outline of his arguments.

Hierarchies aren’t so bad

Hierarchies are not inherently bad, they are only harmful when they result in bureaucracies that help people separate themselves from the consequences of their decisions. Hierarchies should exist, and if they are localized and decentralized then they would not result in the same errors.

Decentralization is based on the simple notion that it is easier to macrobull***t than microbull***t. Decentralization reduces large structural asymmetries.

Even if decentralization did not occur, a centralized system that doesn’t have skin in the game will eventually blow up.

We don’t learn without risk of extinction. We cannot evolve without skin in the game.

Economists have accused Taleb of wanting to reverse bankruptcy protection, but Taleb insists he is advocating for a penalty on people who take risks at the expense of the public (Bob Rubin Trade).  

We are better at doing than at understanding

There is a difference between a charlatan and a genuinely skilled member of society, say that between a macrobull***ter political “scientist” and a plumber, or between a journalist and a mafia made man. The doer wins by doing, not convincing.

Intellectualism stipulates that belief can be separated from action, and that it is a possible to fix a complex system by top-down, hierarchical approaches.

Artisans have their soul in the game, they don’t compromise on quality because it hurts their pride.

Compendiaria res improbitas, virtusque tarda—the villainous takes the short road, virtue the longer one. In other words, cutting corners is dishonest.

Some things don’t scale

Books cannot be industrialized. In the 1980s, it was attempted. People tried to give books away for free and include ads in the text, as in magazines, but the project failed. Writing cannot be industrialized, although Jerzy Kosinski and other authors have tried to subcontract parts of their books. Eventually their work did not survive.

Heroes were not library rats

If you want to understand classical values or learn about stoicism, look at the texts themselves: Seneca, Caesar, Aurelius, and avoid the academics.

By some mysterious mental mechanism, people fail to realize that the principal thing you can learn from a professor is how to be a professor—and the chief thing you can learn from, say, a life coach or inspirational speaker is how to become a life coach or inspirational speaker.

Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily LifeBook 1 (Skin in the Game) 1

"Silence is the best expression of scorn" - G.B. Shaw

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