Taleb and the one law 🔗 1546560005
For those not aware, I'm a large proponent of the Stoic insights. One of the primary ones I promote is that virtue is not only it's own reward but it's only reward. The other half of this coin, which many do not discover, is that this is a good thing. When altruism is to be rewarded, it is all to easy to fake, with attendant and catastrophic costs to society.
One of the most prominent such failures in our modern society is what is popularly called "Virtue Signaling"; a term which once was simply referred to as "putting on a show". Politics is infested with this, as its practitioners overcompensate for their lack of real virtue with an abundance of such fake virtue.
In any case, it is heartening to realize that this is fundamentally what Nicholas Taleb has been groping for all these years. His Intellectual yet Idiot concept is an expression of this; however that is merely a generalization of his core inisght. Namely, that people are applying the wrong model entirely when it comes to dealing with uncertain events.
As explored here previously, people try a variety of schemes to curve-fit us into Procrustes' Iron Bed; the most popular of these are called "laws". In reality, a far simpler model works: "Do as thou wilt, but be prepared for the consequences". I have come to realize more and more that it's the latter half of that statement that nearly all of civilization's distortions are built to try and avoid.
Taleb's SITG (Skin In The Game) is a powerful argument for why not attempting to expand past that one rule is desirable; the further we insulate ourselves from consequence, the more foolish we necessarily become, until survival itself is threatened. He is pilloried by his detractors for "not providing answers", but they simply do not listen when he advises that rather than worry about the fact consequences happen (X), we instead concern ourselves with how our response effects ourselves and the system as a whole (f(x)) -- being prepared for consequences.
That core insight returns right back to stoicism. The wise stoic concerns himself not with the affairs of the world which are not under his control. He instead concerns himself with what he can control; e.g. the reaction to said events (f(x)).
As such it is unsurprising Taleb has drifted increasingly into the Austrian Economist camp. They are the most closely aligned with these particular insights; indeed his discussion of fat tail risk is quite a damning explanation of nearly all extant centralized economic planning's failure. As an apriori theory as to why information theory and risk must necessarily behave so, Praxeology is in perfect harmony.
The one law is simply a necessary lemma of the core praxeological axiom: "Man Acts on limited information and other means to achieve specific ends". This necessarily implies that circumstances may align such that practically anything may be seen as virtuous or licentious at the time, depending on the context understood to the actors involved.
As such, the wisdom of "live and let live" an "Love thy Neighbor" becomes ever clearer -- as one man's virtue may be another man's vice, all attempts to centrally plan and impose a return curve on the necessarily transactional relationships between humans are doomed to failure. All we can do therefore is simply gird ourselves against the reality of the situation in pursuance of our own ends.