When you catch someone with a shoddy-but-carefully-curated story, Edward Snowden, producing the mother of bad faith arguments (in effect, lying) while, in addition, facilitating a character assassination (and severe cyberharassment), something very, very sinister about the person emerges that can help answer some fundamental yet still hanging questions.

Say I…


Foreword to Mark Spitznagel’s book Safe Haven [Amazon]

Santa Marina — Karl Popper — Herman Hesse’s Sidharta — Mutua Muli — Porsche’s no substitute

Santa Marina

In my ancestral village in the Northern Levant, on top of a hill, stands a church dedicated to Santa Marina. Marina is a local saint, though…


Foreword for Cut the Knot: Probability Riddles by Alexander B.

In New jersey, an Italian restaurant

How do you learn a language? There are two routes; the first is to memorize imperfect verbs, grammatical rules, future vs. past tenses, recite boring context-free sentences, and pass an exam. The second approach consists in going to a bar, struggling a little bit and, out of the need to…


1) Religions map to highly differentiated belief clusters and mentalities that have little to do with their theologies, 2) Heresies are separatist movements, often ethnic, and have little to do with religious doctrine.

“This city,” [Constantinople] says he [Gregory of Nyssa], “is full of mechanics and slaves, who are all of them profound theologians; and preach in the shops, and in the streets. If you desire a man to change a piece of silver, he informs you, wherein the Son differs from the…


About two years before the recent collapse, at a dinner, a then (slow thinking) member of the Lebanese parliament kept bugging me for an economic forecast. There was already some anxiety in the air. My answer was that we were facing imminent financial disaster, but that it was not necessarily…


Incompetence and Errors in Reasoning Around Face Covering

SIX ERRORS: 1) missing the compounding effects of masks, 2) missing the nonlinearity of the probability of infection to viral exposures, 3) missing absence of evidence (of benefits of mask wearing) for evidence of absence (of benefits of mask wearing), 4) missing the point that people do not need governments…


(With Mark Spitznagel)

The U.S. government is enacting measures to save the airlines, Boeing, and similarly affected corporations. While we clearly insist that these companies must be saved, there may be ethical, economic, and structural problems associated with the details of the execution. …


For some technical backbone to this piece,see here.

(Revised draft: added comments on sinister country profiling. Also 1) Used the same data as researchers to find that R² for IQ-wealth and IQ-income is effectively 0 in spite of the circularity. 2) Turns out IQ beats random selection in the best


Clearing the discourse of abuses and abusers. The more you institutionalize rules of ethical behavior that should be voluntary (say, anti-racism, anti-sexism), the more they will be used as a cover for unethical actions.

Pedophrasty

Definition: Argument involving children to prop up a rationalization and make the opponent look like an asshole, as people are defenseless and suspend all skepticism in front of suffering children: nobody has the heart to question the authenticity or source of the reporting. Often done with the aid of pictures.


When selecting a surgeon for your next brain procedure, should you pick a surgeon who looks like a butcher or one who looks like a surgeon? …

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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