Posted by: Nicholas Davis | March 9, 2009

NNT’s notes

I know, Nassim Taleb is featuring too often in my posts, but for good reason. He’s a particularly refreshing personality in the world of uncertainty, risk and finance – a philosopher who is prepared to speak his mind (and party) intensely and without any apologies. Not to mention the fact that I think his ideas have a certain merit too. If you haven’t sampled his collection of notes/blog entitled “Opacity: What We Do Not See“, check it out. Fools. As an example, here’s NNT on books:

Fools do not want to accept that the real thing is better than the electronic. In other words, a text does not simplify a book. A book is so much real than a PDF on my hard disk. The experience of reading something you hold in your hands is more aesthetically rewarding: a book is better looking than a flat screen –it has an extra dimension. But to me, the main advantage is that I remember far, far better what I read in a book. My memory solidifies around hard objects, specific books, parts of my library. The classical mnemotechnic originates with the Greeks method of the loci: it consists in attaching memories to physical objects, a stone in a wall, a specific part of a ceiling, etc. You imagine a building & invest some of the locations with things to remember. In Luria’s account of the synesthete who could remember everything in great detail, there is a striking scene. Sh. [the patient-protagonist], has his memory failing him on a small detail because there is a cloud hiding the object to which the memory was attached.

Great stuff – and relevant for those strategic intuition discussions. And to end, my favourite quote from The Black Swan: “For many people, knowledge has the remarkable power of producing confidence instead of measurable aptitude.” Thanks Glen for reminding me of this!

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