Lunch with Nassim Nicholas Taleb

From the Knackered Hack:

Taleb200So what should journalism look like? Taleb gives us a clue in The Black Swan’s utopian vision of “Epistemocracy”, a world where everyone is more like his hero, Menodotus of Nicomedia. Where everyone questions their knowledge, and where introspection and a readiness to admit uncertainty of opinion is accorded more respect.

I asked Taleb how he thought the media should work in our complex society, where we seem ever more driven to seek out experts and snake-oil salesmen to tell us what to think. His answer:-

The internet could do an epistemocracy by doing a “reverse-New York Times“. … By making fun of them, if you do it right. Sort of what I did here [with The Black Swan]. I played their narrative fallacy to the hilt. I made it as readable as you can. You need to be as honest as you can and as readable as you can. A lot of people are not honest, and yet very readable. That is very dangerous. But if you are honest, and not readable — it’s statistics. It’s not gonna work.”

Very obviously, TV and video, with their need for images, are well known for disregarding an accurate narrative in favour of what the available pictures will tell. So, Taleb has bad news for TV executives and YouTube users:-

If you are using visuals, you are probably messing up the world. Because you focus on the lurid, and sensational, and an image automatically hits people in their limbic. As we know, we are more reactive to the visual.”

Interview in three parts: here, here, and here.