Talk:Nassim Nicholas Taleb/Archive 1

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Reqphoto has pictures made available for public use. The first one from the top is available.

Financial Trader vs Mathematical Trader

There has been some back and forth about whether to call Taleb a "financial trader" or a "mathematical trader".

If I had to choose between those two options, I would go with "financial trader", because to call someone a "mathematical trader" is to leave out a description of what he is trading.

I'd be open to another way of describing Taleb's niche in the financial world.

Steve Casburn 20:00, 13 December 2005 (UTC)

I would argue that derivatives trader is a better description. Daviegold 08:10, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

Trading Finance

Taleb states in his website the information related to his work in the Trading Finance field. If you want to remove this section or sentences from it please discuss it here first.
Trade2tradewell 20:49, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

citation needed

Citation needed for "Taleb never considered himself a trader"
Trade2tradewell 09:26, 25 September 2006 (UTC)

on page 102 (fooled by randomness)Taleb states that he is a trader "both of us are traders...."

Taleb does not want to be labeled as trader as his main profession. Go read the book instead of lifting selective sentences and producing meaning out of context.

Pioneer citation needed

Some editors insist upon calling Taleb a "pioneer of complex financial derivatives". Could someone describe this pioneering work or explain what this term means? From everything I have read about him, it seems the majority of his career has been as a prop trader. Daviegold 11:25, 17 October 2006 (UTC)

Check out Dynamic Hedging.

I have read Dynamic Hedging, having written a book on options pricing and hedging does not make a person a pioneer of complex financial derivatives. He is a trader, and author. Daviegold 15:19, 24 October 2006 (UTC)

Let's talk about this some more. The ref we have for him as a pioneer is currently a Bio of him written on a conference website. Given that most bios are submitted by the speakers themselves this isn't the best, most verified, source I can imagine. Lot 49atalk 15:34, 21 December 2008 (UTC)

Taleb's New Book

Please don't talk about Taleb's new book if you do not have precise information as to its contents. 20:10, 18 November 2006 (UTC)

Influenced by

Can we cite the people who seem to have influenced Taleb's current writing and thinking along the lines of randomness as Bastiat, G.L.S. Shackle and Sextus Empiricus ? He seems to be building on their work and refers to them in his book and podcasts. Kendirangu 16:34, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

Sextus Empiricus has influence, for sure. But generally speaking I think Taleb do not like this whole mechanical categorization, as if this whole thinking business is kind of technical tree this from this etc. Reality is way more interesting than a dry and very insufficient definition and name listings. In particular, I think Taleb was influenced by many. YechezkelZilber 23:36, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Greek Orthodox

Per WP:BLP, without a reliable source that Taleb is himself a Greek Orthodox Christian, we cannot put that claim in the article. —Ashley Y 21:16, 1 July 2007 (UTC)

Taleb says it on his web site, it is mentioned in the New Yorker profile (by Gladwell), and it is discussed in Chapter 1 or The Black Swan and Chapter 4 of The Black Swan.

Could you provide the quotes? He discusses his Greek Orthodox family background, but I can't find anywhere on his web site or in TBS where he says that he himself is any kind of Christian. It's really important that we have solid sources for claims we make about living people. —Ashley Y 23:23, 1 July 2007 (UTC)
Gladwell says "Taleb is Greek-Orthodox Lebanese and his first language was French", but he seems to be referring to his background rather than his religion. —Ashley Y 23:33, 1 July 2007 (UTC)

ISSUE RESOLVED - see my edit note on the main article - Plus, for what it's worth, I guess it just goes to show that Wikipedia is a profoundly Western institution (fair I suppose since English is a Western language) that someone would make a distinction between being Greek Orthodox and coming from a Greek Orthodox family. In Lebanon, the 2 are equivalent regardless of private belief. To be sure, this is not at all a criticism of Wikipedia's policy, just a musing on different cultural understandings of what it means to be a member of a religion. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

OK, on the basis of this statement of self-identity, the category is appropriate. We might want to put in the ref as well. —Ashley Y

In Black Swan, I'm sure I read that he said he's a Humanist - where does this fit into the religious stance debate? (talk) 07:38, 14 January 2009 (UTC) Kevin

Taleb holds - as common sense assumes - that various classes of opinions and definitions are not inherently dependent. Being defined as related to a religion does not make a person a fundamentalist. YechezkelZilber 04:42, 28 January 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by YechezkelZilber (talkcontribs)

Milan Kundera, Ismail Kadare

Unless someone sources his similarities with Kundera and Kadare, two writers who I have read extensively, I don't see any way this comparison holds any ground. Both of them are writers of literature, Taleb isn't one. And especially Kundera bears absolutely no relation to this guy. Kudera might have some philosophical quotes in his books but they are all serving the story artistically, nothing more. I also have issues with his classification as a philosopher. How can someone with an mba and some post grad. on mathematics be considered a philosopher. In this sense anyone who writes a few pop science books is a philosopher. 04:24, 28 September 2007 (UTC)

Being philosopher is not a matter of having a philosophy degree. Priod. If you need a technical measure, I do not know many people with more knowledge in philosophical literature! YechezkelZilber (talkcontribs)

Fair use rationale for Image:Taleb's picture 001.png

Nuvola apps important.svg

Image:Taleb's picture 001.png is being used on this article. I notice the image page specifies that the image is being used under fair use but there is no explanation or rationale as to why its use in this Wikipedia article constitutes fair use. In addition to the boilerplate fair use template, you must also write out on the image description page a specific explanation or rationale for why using this image in each article is consistent with fair use.

Please go to the image description page and edit it to include a fair use rationale. Using one of the templates at Wikipedia:Fair use rationale guideline is an easy way to insure that your image is in compliance with Wikipedia policy, but remember that you must complete the template. Do not simply insert a blank template on an image page.

If there is other fair use media, consider checking that you have specified the fair use rationale on the other images used on this page. Note that any fair use images uploaded after 4 May, 2006, and lacking such an explanation will be deleted one week after they have been uploaded, as described on criteria for speedy deletion. If you have any questions please ask them at the Media copyright questions page. Thank you.

BetacommandBot 20:01, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

I explained in the page of the picture it is freee for all as the picture owner stated on the site where the picture came from. See picture page for details. YechezkelZilber 01:09, 25 October 2007 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by YechezkelZilber (talkcontribs)

Move to full name

As "Nassim Nicholas Taleb" is the name by which this individual is best known (see google), I am going to move this article to Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Skomorokh 13:18, 6 April 2008 (UTC)

Well actually, if you read the Arabic name, his full name would be Nassim Nicholas Najib Taleb. XoXo (talk) 13:04, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
Well, I guess no one is likely to change that. XoXo 09:08, 25 February 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Naval Scene (talkcontribs)

Article violates NPOV

About 12 hours ago I added a small section called "criticism." Taleb's work has, in fact, been heavily criticized, particularly but by no means exclusively by academics. (That is not to say it has not also received praise, as the article already makes very, very clear.) The edit was immediately and unceremoniously deleted, the deletion reverted, and then deleted again by the same editor. A different editor reverts again with another warning that deletion is inappropriate. Now, instead of just deleting anything that isn't gushing praise, the editor in question adds "context" to the section by misleadingly renaming it and rewriting it explicitly from the point of view of Taleb: "Taleb considers that statisticians can be pseudo-scientists...." An irrelevant introductory paragraph informs the reader that Taleb alone predicted the subprime mortgage crisis, followed by the critical quotes from academic reviews (now "in context," apparently) which, the reader is told, are obviously wrong. We then get a follow-up paragraph in which Taleb's POV is again explicitly given in the form of an elaborated rebuttal. Finally, another editor steps in to add another paragraph to close the section which does not belong in either "criticism" or "Taleb and the ASA," it merely tells the reader that Taleb has "numerous supporters" including notably Dan Kahneman.

Wiki's guidelines emphasize Biographies of living people should be written responsibly, conservatively, and in a neutral, encyclopedic tone. This article doesn't even come close. It reads like something that was issued by the subject's publicist. Sked123 (talk) 15:30, 2 August 2008 (UTC)

It does NOT violate NPOV. I also edited to reflect the mentioned concerns.
1) Before citing criticism an explanation is due about what is criticized.
2) Reply about the criticism seems minimal, I believe.

I deleted the Kahneman paragraph, and also edited a little the section. YechezkelZilber (talk) 15:50, 2 August 2008 (UTC)

The article obviously violates NPOV. The (irrelevant, gushing) paragraph in question was not, in fact, deleted, it was just moved. It is not clear how the observation that the subject has "numerous supporters" (peacock terms) including Dan Kahneman belongs in the section called "Research and theories of randomness" any moreso than "Taleb and the ASA." The section previously called "criticism" has now essentially been rewritten as a section explaining, explicitly from the subject's POV, that any and all criticism of his work is obviously completely wrong (oh, my mistake, the article explicitly tells us that Taleb's view is that this criticism not merely "wrong" but rather "not even wrong").

This is not the first time people have noted this article violates NPOV. For example, on Jan 6 an editor sarcastically wrote (in the talk page, not the article):

Truly a renaissance man for the ages, the heir to the crown of Newton, Einstein, Von Neuman, and the like.

I'm guessing that he wrote this by himself -- but then again who is better qualified to write an article like this.

That comment was deleted from the Talk page (in violation of Wikipedia:Talk page guidelines) by the editor currently claiming this article does not violate NPOV, with the remark "stupid." A little later, another editor attempts to "cut down on buzzwords and hype in the lead." Those edits were immediately reverted, by the same editor above. The buzzwords and hype remain, and not only in the lead.

Again, the entire article reads like a press release issued by the subject rather than an encyclopedia article. It isn't just in violation of NPOV, it's ridiculously in violation of NPOV. I am not going to spend energy fighting the clearly uphill battle to turn this article into something which belongs in an encyclopedia, but I will keep this page on my watchlist to ensure that these remarks do not also vanish. Sked123 (talk) 16:54, 2 August 2008 (UTC)

I never thought about deleting this section, god forbid. The "stupid" comment I deleted was feeling for me more like a chit chat complaint than a relevant argument.
I have many other douts about the section we are talking about, anyway. I should re-think it. YechezkelZilber (talk) 17:31, 2 August 2008 (UTC)

There is no lack of neutrality in this article. The praise of Nassim's work is overwhelming. The ratio of praise to criticism in the published review literature is 100 to 1. That is why I removed the watch flag.

P.S. The comment I deleted here was truly defamatory, far from any relevance wahtsoever.
YechezkelZilber (talk) 19:53, 2 August 2008 (UTC)

It is not appropriate for you to take it upon yourself to remove the POV-check flag. Even if it were true that the "ratio of praise to criticism is 100 to 1," it would still be the case that this article violates NPOV.

The comment you deleted (which was not mine) was not in any sense defamatory---it was not an insult levelled at the subject of the article, or an editor, or anyone else for that matter. The comment actually highlighted the article's over-the-top violation of NPOV. Even if it were defamatory, it would still be in violation of Wikipedia's Talk page guidelines for you to delete it; please review those guidelines. Sked123 (talk) 20:05, 2 August 2008 (UTC)

What would you consider neutral? Consider all the reviews? The very flaging is a POV in its own rights. Let's discuss it first, so maybe we just get our joint opinion made up in peace, with no need to arbitration or whatever. I have no fixed point as how exactly it should sound. YechezkelZilber 20:15, 2 August 2008 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by YechezkelZilber (talkcontribs)

I would like to see the article rewritten such that could be reasonably said to be "written responsibly, conservatively, and in a neutral, encyclopedic tone." At the very least, the "hype," as another user put it, needs to be removed. Please do not yet again inappropriately remove the POV-check flag. Sked123 (talk) 20:25, 2 August 2008 (UTC)

The article is neutral and follows an encyclopedic tone. If it were a PR article written by or about Taleb, it would mention that he is a prominent Davos figure, the highest-selling non-fiction author of 2007 and so on. I accordance with NPOV I removed it. Putting up this flag borders on vandalism. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Rolfdobelli (talkcontribs) 21:19, 2 August 2008 (UTC)

"Rolfdobelli" is a brand-new account which has only been used for the purpose of removing the POV flag. The article does, as noted above and repeatedly by other editors, include all sort of stuff which sounds more like PR than an encyclopedia article.

"rolfdobelli" is a new account, but not for the purpose of removing the POV flag. I am Chief Editor of a large book review firm. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Rolfdobelli (talkcontribs) 08:26, 3 August 2008 (UTC)

I am not going to pursue this further. This is the sort of article which gives Wiki a bad name, and I now understand a little more about how it comes to pass that such articles persist. Sked123 (talk) 21:33, 2 August 2008 (UTC)

It would be good to add criticism. You shouldn't give up too easily; that guy can be defeated. II | (t - c) 22:11, 2 August 2008 (UTC)

Something makes no sense in this "criticism" section AT ALL. The references are to gated papers not in the public domain so the readers can't see them to judge if they are really critical. I have only read one of them, Aaron Brown's, and that's not what he says: he acknowledges the subject's statistical background, and the thrust of the article is to say that the book is to be taken seriously by statisticians, in spite of its criticism of their profession -- while the quote makes it sound critical of The Black Swan. Furthermore, I see violation of neutrality THE OTHER WAY by insisting on the negative character of reviews by cherry picking, which is why I reverted the initial edit. Cherry picking SELECTIVELY from texts can have a defamatory character, particularly when it violates the initial paper. Visibly the author of the changes is a statistician/econometrician and he feels threatened --a good solution would be to write his own review in a professional journal and expose himself to rebuttal. Note that he also removed a mention of the critique of econometrics in Fooled by Randomness citing that it was a book not a refereed article --there is no reason to believe that Wikipedia is limited to "refereed" articles.

I am on the road and will finish reading the papers and come back with a NEUTRAL fix.

[User:IbnAmioun|IbnAmioun]] —Preceding unsigned comment added by IbnAmioun (talkcontribs) 14:39, 3 August 2008 (UTC)

I looked at the other papers and removed the paragraph for the sake of NEUTRALITY. They do not even reflect the authors' critiques.IbnAmioun (talk

I updated references. Rolfdobelli (talk) 13:29, 4 August 2008 (UTC)

Discussion of failed attempt to add a section on critical reception.

Synopsis. Returning to this page after a few days, I hoped to find that someone had noticed the short-lived POV flag and edited the article such that it resembles something fit for an encyclopedia instead the dust jacket of one of the subject's books. Unfortunately, it has instead been entirely reverted to hype by two WP:single purpose accounts; one of which also goes into personal attacks against me on this Talk page and implies I lied about the content of a peer-reviewed paper, a serious charge. The only remaining change to the article resulting from this exchange is the completely uninformative fluff in the paragraph beginning "Among Taleb's numerous supporters..." which was originally tacked onto the "criticism" section. The promised "neutral fix" was to delete any and all material which isn't fawning. The upshot is that the attempt to reduce the fawning tone and hype which comprise most of the page resulted in slightly more fawning and hype than previously existed.

Facts about criticism of Taleb's work. The other editor claims Taleb's work is universally praised and immediately deletes anything that appears critical on that ground. He is mistaken. A generous, borderline euphemistic way to describe the reception Taleb's work has received in expert circles would be "controversial," but even a hint of controversy fails to appear in the article. Taleb's work has been heavily criticized, particularly by relevant experts. The claim above that Aaron Brown's comments in The American Statistician are not critical is absurd: Brown does think that the book "should be taken seriously by statisticians," but not because it's presenting something novel and correct, but rather because it's full of errors and misleading generalizations about statistics which are likely to fool the intended lay reader of the book. Brown encourages statisticians to "go on the offensive and attack some of the main ideas in the book," particularly the "egregious overstatement on issues that go the heart of statistical practice." IbnAmioun's incredible claim that Brown is not critical can be also be assessed in light of the fact that even Taleb himself refers to Brown's piece as a "critique," which he attempts to rebut. Other expert reviewers are not as kind as Brown. See for example Eric Falkenstein's scathing comments, which in turn pale in comparison to the vicious dismissal of Taleb's work rendered by the eminent statistician Dennis Lindley. Lindley claims that the fact Taleb's book was even published is an indictment of the book publishing industry and introduces the notion of "bleatistan," an anagram of "Taleb" meaning "to complain, to whine, or talk nonsense."

The article's tone. I think a "criticism" section is sorely needed given that the reception of Taleb's very popular books among experts is largely negative. But even in the absence of a criticism section, the article is packed full of hype and poorly sourced claims which need to be fixed. Read even the lead, ignoring the rest: is it accurate to describe Taleb as a "literary essayist?" What are his qualifications in Philosophy? (I think almost any academic in any discipline is a "philosopher" and "literary essayist" in the tortured and uninformative use of those terms here.) How is he a "polymath"? Is "scholar of randomness and knowledge" a useful description? In what sense was his finance career a "day job," and what is the source for that claim? The source for the claim that Taleb is a "pioneer of complex financial derivatives" is a marketing blurb. How is uninformative hype like, "focus on his project of mapping how to live and act in a world we do not understand, and how to come to grips with randomness and the unknown" in any way appropriate for an encyclopedia article? We then get a one-sentence unsourced paragraph on Taleb's style, followed by the paragraph: "In an article in The Times, Bryan Appleyard described Taleb as `now the hottest thinker in the world.'" Does that sound to anyone like anything that belongs in an encyclopedia? Much of this article is poorly sourced or unsourced; and its tone is clearly inappropriate.

I will ignore IbnAmioun's extended ad hominem argument, but I will ask him or her to please attempt to follow the most basic of WP guidelines and policies. Discuss the article, not the editors.

I hope someone else will take up the task of fixing this disaster of an article. I am not touching the article again, and will respond here again only if I must defend against further character assassination.

Sked123 (talk) 17:57, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

I basically agree. II | (t - c) 20:00, 7 August 2008 (UTC)
Me too. I choked at "polymath". (talk) 22:27, 19 December 2008 (UTC)

Sked123 is very very obsessive :) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:31, 20 December 2008 (UTC)

Axe to grind

Tisk tisk tisk this is not the place with an axe to grind. Taleb also has a right to defend himself from character assassination and his wiki article should not be a battle ground. You are allowed to disagree, yes. But you are not allowed to character assassinate. To call Taleb controvesial is to miss the point. Your axe betrays neutrality. LoveMonkey (talk) 18:20, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

I wrote nothing that could reasonably be considered "character assassination." I tried to add some balance to the article by discussing some of the negative expert opinion on Taleb's work. I did not write one word, in the article on on this page, on my own personal opinion of Taleb's work. Declaring I have an "axe to grind" is an ad hominem argument, which is inappropriate in general and particularly inappropriate given you've used a section heading to attack me (Wikipedia:Talk page guidelines). I apparently have to ask again that editors please discuss the article, not other editors.

Biographical articles should not be battlegrounds, but neither should they be fawning, nor are they marketing blurbs. I don't what "point" is allegedly missed by calling Taleb's work "controversial." If you want to convince reasonable observers that this article is actually neutral, respond to content above about the article instead of trying to discredit me personally. Sked123 (talk) 18:44, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

No one has a problem with balancing the article. This is good for NPOV. But you sir have a conflict of interest. Due to Taleb's open contempt for your specific profession. LoveMonkey (talk) 20:11, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

Obviously, some people do have a problem with balancing the article. Your claim that I have a conflict of interest because I am a relevant expert is ridiculous: you are essentially saying that no one who has expertise in the areas in which Taleb publishes can edit this page. Again, please limit attention to the content of the article. It is not constructive for you to continue to attack me personally instead of discussing the article. Sked123 (talk) 20:26, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

We need to discuss the editor for one reason: strange behavior. Editor Sked123 removed the criticism of Econometrics in FOOLED BY RANDOMNESS and cherry picked book review sentences. A criticism of a book --assuming it is presented right --should be in the book review section, not in the person's page, not transformed into ad hominem by authors of articles who do not have that in mind. If there is a specific published CRITICISM of Taleb, then it would be eligibleIbnAmioun. —Preceding undated comment was added at 22:29, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

This is ridiculous. I added the criticism to econometrics, and I agree that it doesn't belong. It is too vague, broad, and casually reasoned. The reliably sourced criticism of Taleb's work should go in. II | (t - c) 23:30, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

IbnAmioun: Discussion of the Econometrics article belongs on the relevant Talk page, not here. Bringing it up here again in an attempt to discredit me personally again is more ad hominem argument. Clearly the editor who added the section on Taleb to that page does not think its removal was inappropriate.

Aaron Brown and the other authors I have cited are quite clearly critical of Taleb. It is simply fantastic for you to continue to claim that I am deliberately misrepresenting these pieces. I already gave a third-party cite confirming thnt Brown's piece is considered a critique: I cited Taleb himself! I am at a loss as to how you can continue to claim I am being dishonest in claiming Brown's piece makes highly critical comments about Taleb's work. Here is another third-party confirmation: published an article on Taleb's book which notes,

"Taleb has made enemies, too. In August, The American Statistician, the quarterly <journal of the American Statistical Association, came out with a special Black Swan issue that published a series of critical reviews alongside an article by Taleb." (emphasis added)

Who besides you thinks Brown did not make critical remarks about Taleb? You will have to clearly cite your position, which would be fascinating since anyone who actually reads the article could not help but notice that it is critical. If you cannot do so, continuing to malign me by suggesting I am dishonestly claiming Brown is critical when he is not amounts to even more ad hominem.

I think there is a reasonable case that the criticism of Taleb's books should be moved to the books' pages, but that is not what was done nor suggested. That said, there is certainly precedent in including critical commentary of an author's work on the author's bio instead of pages devoted to particular contentious works, some examples include Graham Hancock, Michael Behe, Charles Murray, and John Lott. Even if the criticism section were moved to the pages on Taleb's books, it would still be the case that this article's tone is flagrantly POV.

My behavior is not "strange" (more ad hominem) and is in accordance with WP policies and guidelines. You should consider whether you can say likewise. For the last time, please discuss the article, not the editors.

Sked123 (talk) 23:44, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

Sked123 is cherry picking --For the article to be neutral it needs to REFLECT all arguments IN FAVOR of Taleb compared to arguments AGAINST Taleb. Unlike Charles Murray or others there has been NO controversy concerning the ideas exposed. Anything short of that would be violation of neutrality. There are 670 articles In Favor of Taleb. They then would need to be cited ALL in proper balance. IbnAmioun.

The fact that the papers are gated means that only very few have access to them. Wikipedians cannot read them by themselves. —Preceding unsigned comment added by IbnAmioun (talkcontribs) 00:06, 8 August 2008 (UTC)

No, in order to include discussion of criticism, it is not true that an exhaustive analysis of everything that has ever been written about that author must be conducted. It is obviously ridiculous to claim that there has been "no controversy" about Taleb's work, and it is very easy to find many examples of third-party commentators referring to his work as controversial.

I don't know what it means to say that an article "in favor of Taleb." Suppose all 670 of your reviews said "This is the best book ever written, but there is a spelling error on page 167." It would be reasonable to note that critics have pointed out that there is a spelling error on page 167 even though the reviewers agree this is a wonderful book, they are "in favor" of it. Similarly, Taleb's work has commonly come under fire for aspects of his style and, when a relevant expert is writing the review, his claims about statistical methods. Even if it were true that all of these reviews are "in favor" of Taleb, it would nonetheless be reasonable to point out these commonly-made criticisms of his work.

Just like I can cite a book without buying every wikipedian a copy, I can cite a peer-reviewed paper without giving everyone access to the journal in question. I think---and as noted above WP policy agrees with me---that such sources are better, not worse, than non-refereed outlets. That said, I also wish that the reviews in American Statistician weren't gated, so that people without university or government IP addresses could decide for themselves whether these articles are actually, as IbnAmioun claims, pure praise. Luckily, Dennis Lindley's review is not gated. Perhaps IbnAmioun will now make an argument that, appearances to the contrary, Lindley's article is also pure praise. Sked123 (talk) 00:35, 8 August 2008 (UTC)

This review is negative and can be linked and cited ALONG with other reviews in a proper review section for THE BLACK SWAN. —Preceding unsigned comment added by IbnAmioun (talkcontribs) 00:54, 8 August 2008 (UTC)

It is good of you to admit that possibly Lindley is not full of praise. Please cite the WP policy which states that discussion of controversy surrounding a person must be placed in a section cataloging reviews, and never belongs on an author's bio (many hundreds of articles will need immediate rewrites if this is a policy!) Sked123 (talk) 01:38, 8 August 2008 (UTC)

Wikipedia should not be the place for someone's most obsessive enemy to operate and determine "neutrality" by looking for anything ad hominem or interpreting his work from their eyes. Econometricians are in the great minority and his critics are the small minority among them -- Taleb has sevaral hundred million readers and has been covered by articles spanning thousands of articles. His book is general -- technical econometric arguments should be addressed where they belong. Let's consider this matter closed. Rolfdobelli (talk) 11:11, 8 August 2008 (UTC)

There isn't a single technical argument anywhere on this page. Taleb's sales figures are not relevant. Pointing out that Taleb's work has received mostly critical reviews in the expert literature is not a form of ad hominem, nor or those reviews themselves ad hominem (ad hominem is not a synonym for "negative"). It is completely ridiculous, and an actual form of ad hominem, to describe me as an "obsessive enemy." My lifetime output related to Taleb consists of the two or so pages of text above, written over the span of a week or so, arguing that this article should read like an encyclopedia article. I've only written even that modest amount as a direct result of other editors repeated inappropriate reversions of properly referenced material describing commonly remarked-upon aspects of Taleb's work. I do not consider Taleb to be my "enemy." That description is amusingly hyperbolic. I even liked his first book.

You know, you win. I don't want to bother fighting this ridiculous fight---write whatever fawning drivel you wish on Taleb's Wikipedia bio. I've already declined to ever edit the article again, and if you'd just stop personally attacking me I'd stop responding here, too. Someone---someone with no morals or ethics---even somehow found my work email address and addressing me by my real name is now harrassing me in "real life" too (I have not said anything on WP which could identify me, and the little description on my talk page applies to hundreds of people). Have you no shame? Sked123 (talk) 19:31, 8 August 2008 (UTC)

Sourcing and Defamation

Sourcing is certainly necessary. But it is not sufficient --one can always source out of context. Sourcing does not prevent a statement from being defamatory under UK law. If one looks at hundred of articles and cuts and pastes sentences that fit him and publish it under "criticism", one is acting in bad faith --particularly when there is evidence of intent to cause harm to the subject's reputation and business interests. Furthermore, a scientific article (limited to technical subscribers) may not be defamatory, but citing from it on a public forum may become defamatory as it may be read by the general public in a different light IbnAmioun (talk) 10:59, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

One would have to agree IbnAmioun, that Wikipedia and any encyclopedia profile article should be about the person first and not a place to fight out various controversies at the expense of the article losing focus. Thats one but another issue is again Wikipedia is not the place to grind your axe. To just disregard out of hand that fact is bad. That maybe one is a bit too close to the subject is not demeaning to a specialist. It is to point out that one may simply not be able to up hold NPOV and they need balance by good editing from another more neutral source and or person. One who wishs to post criticism should at least partially but up to taking some criticism themselves. To post in a way that exhibits that one is not listening and yet expects to be hear is no kind of collaboration of any kind.LoveMonkey (talk) 12:28, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

We (novel)

I misquoted in my restore of the See Also WE the novel, it is mentioned due to the villians of the novel being bureaucrats who run everything based on mathmatical formulas. The correct way of saying it should have been the novel is mentioned in Fooled By Randomness not that it has a section. LoveMonkey (talk) 13:02, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

I removed the reference to the article on the book "We" because aside from a small mention in one of Taleb's books, there is nothing to link it to Taleb. He mentions literally hundreds of other works in his books and on his website - should they also be included in the "See Also" section? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:09, 19 August 2008 (UTC)

We should if it is important to the over all message of Taleb, which it is. The message being the misuse of science/epistomology to justify the worst possible things. The book illustrates the point vividly. Taleb should as much as possible (and it is what he seems to state he is doing) point out the misuse of science. Which is really his whole point. (talk) 17:01, 19 August 2008 (UTC)


This biography is ridiculous. Nothing makes sense here. Why is someone with a PhD peddling financial contracts. It appears that luck rather than skill has done much for this guy. And the reference to ancient Hebrew? Does he even speak modern Hebrew? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:29, 3 September 2008 (UTC)

It looks like you do not personaly like the chap whose biography is about, whihc is entirely legitimate (I dislike many people, too). The idea of an encyclopedia is to present information, not to judge likability and the formal meaning of "reads old text in origin" Does it mean with slowly? fast? with a dictionary in hand? without? vocabulary of 1032 words? or twice that much?
Thanks for allowing me to write so much on a useless argument and feeling funny (I hope you will feel that, too) YechezkelZilber 23:25, 4 September 2008 (UTC)

Quotes shouldn't be censored

The block quote near the bottom of this page begins: "We love the tangible, the confirmation, the palpable, the real, the visible, the concrete, the known, the seen, the vivid, the visual, the social, the embedded, the emotional laden, the salient, the stereotypical, the moving, the theatrical, the romanced, the cosmetic, the official, the scholarly-sounding verbiage (b******t)..." There is no need to censor out the last word (bullshit) with asterisks, unless they are present in the original. Wikipedia is not censored; in fact, we have a whole article on bullshit, and we definitely shouldn't avoid using the word in a direct quote.

I would make this change myself, except that I'm not sure of the origin of the quote, and the asterisks just might be present in the original. Could the person who added it please provide a reference for where they got it from? Terraxos (talk) 00:44, 28 September 2008 (UTC)

The quotes (b******t, f**) are censored by the author himself in The Black Swan.IbnAmioun (talk) —Preceding undated comment was added at 12:05, 28 September 2008 (UTC).

Hello Taleb fans

User:IbnAmioun, User:Epistemeter, User:Fooledbyrandomness, User:Nboccard, if any of you (or anyone else) actually are Nassim Taleb, it would be enormously helpful to everyone if you would identify yourself. —Ashley Y 02:50, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

??? You are asking to get banned. WP:Anonymous, WP:Outing. If you feel an IP check is due, request one. Otherwise.

Please stop. Thank you. LoveMonkey (talk) 04:23, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

Actually, this is relevant to the Wikipedia:Autobiography guideline. It's generally considered helpful to identify yourself if you are editing an article about yourself. —Ashley Y 11:14, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

No the policy does not state that it is relevant. It only states that one can identify themselves on the talkpage if they want to, not that others are supposed to be asking anyone to identify themselves as to who they are. The policy does not state that editors should be asking each other to identify themselves or give their identities. You are misusing the policy. This type of behaviour is a form of harrassment, since the accused party can only prove they are not the accused identity by giving their real identity. This type of behaviour is not supported by Wikipedia Policy. LoveMonkey (talk) 21:35, 16 November 2008 (UTC)

My assistance as an Wikipedia administrator was requested. I don't think this request by itself quite constitutes harassment, but a continuation of it will--it is not appropriate to push people to do this. In any case we judge the article on its own merit; if the subject of the article wishes to complain about the material on the page, the appropriate way to do it is via [[WP:OTRS]. 03:34, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
Are the guidelines for editing an article about oneself the same as the guidelines for editing some other article? —Ashley Y 10:01, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
No, there are very major differences, explained by the impossibility of being entirely neutral about oneself. See Wikipedia:Autobiography and Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons. Elroch (talk) 18:58, 9 February 2009 (UTC)

Aaron Brown quote

I added a qualifier to the quote taken from my article to better represent the context.

AaCBrown (talk) 00:01, 19 December 2008 (UTC)

Ludic Fallacy

I don't get what this unattributed quote has to do with the ludic fallacy:

We love the tangible, the confirmation, the palpable, the real, the visible, the concrete, the known, the seen, the vivid, the visual, the social, the embedded, the emotional laden, the salient, the stereotypical, the moving, the theatrical, the romanced, the cosmetic, the official, the scholarly-sounding verbiage (b******t), the pompous Gaussian economist, the mathematicized crap, the pomp, the Academie Francaise, Harvard Business School, the Nobel Prize, dark business suits with white shirts and Ferragamo ties, the moving discourse, and the lurid. Most of all we favor the narrated.

Alas, we are not manufactured, in our current edition of the human race, to understand abstract matters — we need context. Randomness and uncertainty are abstractions. We respect what has happened, ignoring what could have happened. In other words, we are naturally shallow and superficial — and we do not know it. This is not a psychological problem; it comes from the main property of information. The dark side of the moon is harder to see; beaming light on it costs energy. In the same way, beaming light on the unseen is costly in both computational and mental effort. (talk) 15:54, 19 January 2009 (UTC)

It is in The Black Swan. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:24, 23 January 2009 (UTC)

Section Title

"Major Literary Writings" is a poor title firstly because "literary" and "writings" is redundant and secondly because the adjective "major" is unnecessary as a value judgement or for the purpose of distinguishing the works listed from other minor ones. I have replaced the title by the more user friendly and (I hope) indisputably accurate "Popular books" - the books listed in this section are those that have become bestsellers among the general public, as opposed to academics or those with specialist knowledge. Please do not revert without a reasoned argument here. Elroch (talk) 18:40, 8 February 2009 (UTC)

"Popular" in America has a journalistic connotation -- Essay is the right designation and the one used by the author. —Preceding unsigned comment added by IbnAmioun (talkcontribs) Feb 8, 2009

I believe readers would find my title more helpful, but Essays is ok. Elroch (talk) 06:33, 9 February 2009 (UTC)

Current collaborations were misplaced

The current collaborations listed were inappropriately placed in the bibliography section. If anyone wishes to put them somewhere more appropriate, here is the text I have moved:

  • Taleb is collaborating with Benoit Mandelbrot on a general theory of risk management.[1]
  • Taleb also works with Daniel Goldstein on a project to test empirically people's intuitions about ecological and high impact uncertainty.[2]
  1. ^ Benoit Mandelbrot and, Nassim Taleb (March 23, 2006). "A focus on the exceptions that prove the rule". Financial Times. Retrieved 2007-06-05. 
  2. ^ Goldstein, D. G.; Taleb, N. N. (In press), "We don't quite know what we are talking about when we talk about volatility", Journal of Portfolio Management  Check date values in: |year=, |date=, |year= / |date= mismatch (help)

Subsection title

IbnAmioun claimed that "Representative scientific publications" was a "standard" title. Google finds only 3 instances of this phrase in wikipedia. The title I changed it to gives a much more precise description of the scope of the work, and is therefore more helpful to the reader. Elroch (talk) 07:33, 9 February 2009 (UTC)

It is certainly more standard that "finance and statistics" given that the works are in RISK and COMPLEXITY and other subjects. You can use academic or technical but NOT narrow down to finance and statistics. Furthermore this restricts future papers on forecasting. ~~ —Preceding unsigned comment added by IbnAmioun (talkcontribs) 09:36, 9 February 2009 (UTC)

Wikipedia guidance

I would like to draw attention to a number of points from the Wikipedia guidance Biographies of living persons and Autobiography in the hope that if these are scrupulously followed, the balance and quality of this article may be significantly improved and the article become NPOV. The guidance applies to all contributions by the subject of the biography.

  • The subject of a biography should not make edits to an article his or herself. Exceptions are to revert blatant vandalism (such as deletions without adequate justification, insertion of gobbledegook or obscenities) and correction of simple, indisputable facts (such as marital status, current employer, place of birth), as well as removal of material that does not satisfy the conditions for verifiability. Any removal or edit that might be at all contentious should be discussed on the talk page first.
  • All other contribution by the subject of a biographical article should be made by placing the material on the talk page with an invitation to other users to use it. You can help by pointing us to sources which can enable a more balanced view to be presented. Your input is welcomed and valued, but it is important that it is distinguished from contributions from third parties.
  • If you are a regular Wikipedia editor, you should identify yourself on the article's talk page with the {{Notable Wikipedian}} notice, to avoid any confusion as to whether you are the subject of the article.

I hope this will avoid any future problems. Elroch (talk) 18:36, 9 February 2009 (UTC)

This account is used by a representative of the author to enforce neutrality and protect from libel.It DOES NOT ADD anything. It does revert and eliminates improperly sourced material --particularly when it is coming from someone with a record of an angle to hurt the author's reputation with "demise of Empirica" not citing the author's reason and the return of the 380 million (in the WSJ article he removed). It looks like user Elroch is violating every rule.
(note: the WSJ and Bloomberg INVESTIGATED why Taleb closed Empirica -- and reported burnout/loss of interest since clients did not redeem and Taleb returned 380 million. The same journalist later gave background of lackluster returns (inherent to the strategy). Why does Elroch who opened a section Demise of Empirica avoid citing these articles and why does he not realize that such action is defamatory?

~~ —Preceding unsigned comment added by IbnAmioun (talkcontribs) 22:29, 9 February 2009 (UTC)

IbnAmioun's claim that including direct quotes from the Wall Street Journal about the financial performance of companies is defamatory would be comical if it were not a direct threat to the integrity, neutrality and balance of Wikipedia. The Wall Street Journal is undeniably a source that explicitly meets all the requirements for verifiability demanded by the cornerstone of this encyclopedia, Wikipedia:Verifiability. The WSJ's standing in financial journalism is exemplified by its receipt in 2007 of the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, arguably the most prestigious prize in journalism. So IbnAmioun's contention that the statements in the Wall Street Journal are both false and damaging is a serious one, and if it had any substance would surely be best addressed by suing the newspaper directly. Wikipedia is entirely safe from accusations of defamation because we have no reason to believe the newspaper to be printing falsehoods. If anyone has any evidence to the contrary that meets Wikipedia's verifiability criteria, please place it here for open discussion. Until then, I will reinstate the information deleted on the basis of incorrect and unfounded assertions. Please do not remove it again without providing reliable evidence that the quotes used are false.
Please also note that the edits concerned make no suggestion of anything shameful or improper having occurred, just that the successes of October 2008 alone are not representative of the normal performance of the funds concerned. Elroch (talk) 20:08, 10 February 2009 (UTC)

That is NOT the point. The point is that Elroch HIMSELF REMOVED a citation from the WSJ (the very same reporter). We are contacting wikipedia for action as the article's wording aims at showing that Taleb stopped trading BECAUSE of failure owing lackluster returns (does not cite burnour). Nor is it the editor's job to portray "demise" ~~ —Preceding unsigned comment added by IbnAmioun (talkcontribs) 20:52, 10 February 2009 (UTC)

There is a context problem here. There is a strategy that is officially supposed to pay off once inyears. A fund was actually fullfilling the officially stated expectations.

Investors have not requested the money, but founder got tired of the situations whihc cost years to make a buck. Stating that fund was closed as a result of presumed failure for a few years of no income is inexact. It is a reading of the story that does not represent its properly. YechezkelZilber 21:04, 10 February 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by YechezkelZilber (talkcontribs)

Please see the next section for corrections to both of your statements. Also, as a courtesy to other editors, please learn to sign your posts correctly. Thank you in anticipation. Elroch (talk) 23:21, 10 February 2009 (UTC)
I signed my post (see the user name and time before the bot auto sign). There is some bug in wiki regarding my signature that makes it look like some regular text and not a link to my user pages. Here I am signing again, nad you can see..... YechezkelZilber 00:48, 11 February 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by YechezkelZilber (talkcontribs)
Now I am correcting it YechezkelZilber 00:50, 11 February 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by YechezkelZilber (talkcontribs)
Now it should work Yechezkel Zilber (talk) 00:52, 11 February 2009 (UTC)
Great! many thanks Elroch. Due to your comment i corrected the problem with my auto signature Yechezkel Zilber (talk) 00:53, 11 February 2009 (UTC)

"Edit warring"

I have to agree with YechezkelZilbe and IbnAmioun that some of Elroch edits appear to be deflamatory against a living person. Elroch appears to be edit warring to force their inclusion. This type of editing can lead to WP:Office since as I would expect anyone would not what appears to be a POV take on their change in career direction. There is other explaination for the wording of the section in question other then that. Since Mr Taleb's appears according to the WSJ article, source (that elroch removed) to have moved on into an academic career of sorts. LoveMonkey (talk) 21:21, 10 February 2009 (UTC)

I can assure you I am not in an edit war with anyone, but I will help to oppose anyone who objects to the creation of balanced articles and removes those facts they would prefer to hide. I have not the slightest objection to the quote about "battle fatigue" being included in the article, but I consider it to be rather ephemeral and unimportant compared to the information about the performance of the fund from the same source.
There have been two accusations here that it had been claimed that the Empirica fund had closed down because it of its lacklustre performance. My contribution accurately pointed out that it had closed down after lacklustre performance. I will put this down to English not being the first language of the accuser, but please be more careful about such errors in future.
I would advise anyone who mistakenly thinks that I have defamed anyone to read the definition. Defamation is false statements that damage a reputation. I hope that drawing attention to this definition will help to avoid similar erroneous attacks on editors other than myself. Making false accusations such as these really is a serious matter which can lead to people being banned from editing Wikipedia. Elroch (talk) 23:08, 10 February 2009 (UTC)

Yes and the times it happens the most are on articles that are biographys on living persons. If Taleb WP:Officed this article I would not be the one recieving fall out. This is Professor Taleb's bio. Not mine and not yours so adding to the article what appears to imply something negative about the Professor is not acceptable. There are already three editors (including me) on the talkpage pointing this out. I think that the-Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons is pretty clear. I think the statement:

Criticism and praise
Further information: Wikipedia:Coatrack
Criticism and praise of the subject should be represented if it is relevant to the subject's notability and can be sourced to reliable secondary sources, and so long as the material is written in a manner that does not overwhelm the article or appear to take sides; it needs to be presented responsibly, conservatively, and in a neutral, encyclopedic tone. Be careful not to give a disproportionate amount of space to particular viewpoints, to avoid the effect of representing a minority view as if it were the majority one. The views of a tiny minority have no place in the article. Care must be taken with article structure to ensure the overall presentation is broadly neutral; in particular, subsection headings should reflect important areas to the subject's notability.
Content should be sourced to reliable sources and should be about the subject of the article specifically. Beware of claims that rely on guilt by association. Be on the lookout for biased or malicious content about living persons. If someone appears to be promoting a biased point of view, insist on reliable third-party published sources and a clear demonstration of relevance to the person's notability.

I think this last sentence, statement is the one that is at the heart of this contention. The content you added appears to imply the reason Taleb ended the endeavor was that he failed in some capacity.LoveMonkey (talk) 01:08, 11 February 2009 (UTC)

Do you really not understand the English construction that links two statements with the word "after"? In case not, I will explain that it has exactly one unambiguous meaning - that the action in the first clause occurred at a later time than the action in the second clause. Nothing more. Perhaps sloppy thinking has led you to misunderstand the meaning of this construction to the point where you replace "after" by "because" when quoting it, but that is your problem, not mine. "After" is never a synonym of "because". If you doubt this, please ask the views of an independent expert on this subject.
In response to your incorrect accusation of bias, I had already provided an excellent verifiable source before this discussion started, and it seems self-evident that the performance of the Empirica fund is relevant to Taleb's notability. Do you honestly disagree with this?
I believe the real question of interest is whether biographies of living persons on Wikipedia should be written in a way that misleads people by being highly selective in the information provided. For example, providing information about one month of performance of a fund for which the subject was an adviser while attempting to conceal any other information about investment performance, as has happened here.
There is one false claim above which demands to be addressed: "adding to the article what appears to imply something negative about the Professor is not acceptable". It is ludicrous that biographies should provide such a skewed viewpoint. Taleb's work has received a considerable amount of reasoned criticism from those who understand the subjects he addresses better than he does, and well enough to see his errors. This contrasts sharply with the way Taleb's "the Black Swan" has a shocking number of inaccurate over-generalisations, clumsy errors, and totally unnecessary, unsupportable insults to entire specialisations, professions, the populations of entire nations and even continents. In my opinion, sloppiness and bigotry are not to be praised, and it is not a matter of bias to say so. Elroch (talk) 20:52, 11 February 2009 (UTC)

Fascinating lack of neutrality, to say the least...... Last two sentences.
Taleb's work is one huge mistake etc. etc. That is a legitimate opinion in a democratic country.
NPOV you are not. the rest is irelevant. Yechezkel Zilber (talk) 21:02, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
I admire the fact that you managed to hold your tounge about this until here.
The game of neutrality was until here - but no longer - well played. I hope I would have had this pretending ability Yechezkel Zilber (talk) 21:02, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
It would be incorrect to presume that I disagree with all of what Taleb says and your statement to the effect (as well as other inaccurate and foolish statements made below by "LoveMonkey") contravenes Wikipedia guidance that prohibits misrepresentation of the views of other editors. Please take care not to abuse other editors in this way. The rather obvious fact that applying gaussian statistics to non-gaussian systems will lead to unreliable predictions has been well-known for over 100 years. Non-gaussian statistics (a subject which Taleb gives the impression of not being aware of) is a subject that is equally old. I have for many years concurred with the view that the Black-Scholes model is far from a perfect model of the behaviour of real marketsm, and Taleb also concurs with this. Improvements on the model such as GARCH and its refinements which address the non-gaussian nature of real markets have been actively studied since before 1982. There is evidence that some of these refinements estimate risk better than gaussian models in certain fields of application. One thing that appears certain is that the behaviour of markets is not so pathological that statistical methods are of no value (a view which Taleb appears to inexplicably hold).
All those who attempt to play the markets, Taleb included, are in the business of showing that it is possible to be right in one's predictions more than chance, or equivalently that the market sometimes offers genuine bargains (or the inverse). This is a very difficult business, but the fact that certain individuals achieve success which cannot reasonably be attributed to chance refutes the view of Taleb quoted in this Wikipedia article, that it is futile to attempt to make predictions about the future based on knowledge of the past.

Elroch (talk) 00:09, 23 February 2009 (UTC)

1) Taleb's point is that using Gaussian is many times incorrect. Once you deviate from the Normal, you are more sensitive to assumption errors, so you must maintain a rather skeptical approach to your statistics.
Taleb himslef have experience with non-Gaussian methods in his trading history.
2) Taleb agrees that people managed to beat the market, and some of them can be statistically shown to have succeeded beyond chance.
2.1) Taleb maintains that many successful traders, may have just been lucky. This is obvious to the statistically oriented, since the probability of succeeding X is many times quite high. And so many people enter the market that you need a very strong probability (i.e. very low one) to prove success.
Warren Buffet for example, whose track record is say, 1000 times times the market, can hardly be proven to be a true market beater. In theory, one may just make a 1 to 1,000 gamble in whatever way, and if succeding go on to the market. This way, one in thousand investor will have Buffet record.
Since Buffet has been dispresing his gambles on many stocks, the actual probability of success is probably lower. But we do not know the exact probability, and since so many in the world played sometime in the market, we need a probability lower than one in a million to start proving anything aobut a specific investor.
By the way, I was personally in terested in checking the probability of Buffet's success by running simulations etc. But was unable to obtain the data of his historical trades. If anyone would be able to get his whole trading history, it would have been very interesting to check this.
3) Predicting the future is certainly possible. Nobody doubts this.
But predictions have a high error rate. Especially where rare errors yield catastrophic results.
The average predictor in some domains are no better than chance. This is true for most money managers and analysts. Yechezkel Zilber (talk) 00:25, 24 February 2009 (UTC)
I am refreshed that you, like myself, appear to be more interested in uncovering the truth that in the mudslinging that some indulge in. Your points are all worth discussing in connection with the evaluation of Taleb's work.
Thank you (the deeper identations here are my and the more leftish of Elroch Yechezkel Zilber (talk) 21:41, 2 March 2009 (UTC))
We all agree that many real world statistical systems are significantly non-gaussian and that applying gaussian models to them leads to inaccurate predictions. Taleb is no more right to reject the gaussian as "the great intellectual fraud" than someone who has just learnt about the existence of fractions would be right to describe the integers as such. The gaussian is the most important distribution in statistics, from both a theoretical and a practical point of view, and there are very good reasons why so many real world systems are approximately gaussian, especially the central limit theorem. All statisticians know that not all systems are gaussian, and about the key concept of kurtosis but Taleb completely fails to acknowledge the importance of this and other related concepts to the nature of markets (which based on all the evidence typically exhibit mild positive kurtosis, rather than living in the fictional land of "Extremistan").
Most mistakes are a result of over use of Gaussian. Taleb says that generalization of Gaussian to everywhere is incorrect.
Consequences in also crucial. Whereever a single exception can have huge consequences, the "usual" correctedness of the Gaussian is useless.
here you can see data collections from the markets that show how irelevant is Gaussian for traders. Yechezkel Zilber (talk) 21:41, 2 March 2009 (UTC)
Could you support your statement about Taleb's use of non-gaussian statistics?
I read this and I also know from Taleb's book about options pricing and trading. I may find the reference later. Yechezkel Zilber (talk) 21:41, 2 March 2009 (UTC)
I have not the slightest doubt based on what I have read, especially "the new Buffettology" which happens to be on my shelf, that Buffett's performance is to a large extent based on intelligent application of relatively simple methods that have worked well, particularly arbitrage and value investing, rather than having an absurd amount of luck using methods that provide no edge. For example Buffett's 30 year average return from arbitrage trades of about 25% per year (estimated in the book mentioned above) is sufficient proof of a level of success that, in statistical terms, might be shown to have a p-value with far, far more zeros than 1/1000.
My statement about Buffet was based on what we know from his overal track record.
I said clearly that with detailed data, it is quite possible to get a stronger p-value for his success. I have not seen yet the data. And I will stay skeptic until I get convinced with forceful data. "show me the data"
Take notice that the methods Buffet used are irelevant for assesing the p-value of his success. Whether value investing works or not is immaterial (althought one may construct base-rate probabilities based on prior assumptions or data, it would create a statistical mess.).
As a personal question, do you know where I can get detailed information of buy/sell etc. to do statistics about? I looked in the past and got only inexact stuff. for true calculations one needs good detailed data. Yechezkel Zilber (talk) 21:41, 2 March 2009 (UTC)
I don't know this, but Buffett's gross year to year results are sufficient to construct some impressive statistics. It is worth noting that if there are N investors (where N is many millions) in the world and Buffett is the most successful of them, a result with a p-value of 1/N would not prove anything! If (as is plausible) Buffett's results could be shown to have been as unlikely as 1 in a trillion (10^12) by chance, it would be more convincing.
Perhaps equally interesting is that Buffett was the first person I recall making public statements about the dangers inherent in the highly leveraged, interconnected financial system, such as his high profile statements in 2003 [1]. Buffett has certainly turned out to be a person whose views about this issue were worth latching on to. It would be interesting to map out the history of statements made in the public eye by various people and how they might have influenced each other! I think it is possible that no-one explicitly pointed out the risk to the whole economy before Buffett. The fact that this concept is in Taleb's latest book, but not in the previous one, is indicative. Elroch (talk) 19:33, 8 March 2009 (UTC)

{earlier comments follow, because of the insertion of the previous editor}

There is a huge range of spheres in which predictions can be made. In some they can be very reliable, in others they have huge uncertainty. Overgeneralisation about predictions in general is hazardous.
I recall reading several years ago that studies had been done showing that certain types of expert financial advise were not significantly more reliable than sticking a pin in a copy of the Financial Times. I am not sure how reliable these studies were or are, but Taleb's reference in the Black Swan to Meehl's and Dawes' work seems creditworthy. Such references are in my opinion of far more substance than Taleb's strange mix of fiction, vituperation, and pompous overgeneralisation. The problem is that, in Taleb's words "Almost all of my non-Yogi Berra quotes are from people I disagree with". It is unfortunate that Yogi Berra had no known expertise in any of the fields dealt with in the Black Swan. Elroch (talk) 22:09, 1 March 2009 (UTC)
In actuality, it seems that most mistakes are toward too much reliance on predictions. In Fooled By Randomness whihc deals with humans underestimation of randomness and luck in life, Taleb makes the point that at times the opposite is true and randomness is overestimated. But the common error is underestimating randomness and not the opposite. So Taleb rightfully fights reliance on predictions. Especially when there is a lot of research showing the unreliability of predictions outside of finance (Much research was done by Phillip Tedlock).—Preceding unsigned comment added by YechezkelZilber (talkcontribs) 21:41, 2 March 2009

Elroch edit warring

Rather then Elroch admit that he is edit warring and just stop he is now again attempting to justify his bad behaviour by distracting from the issue and giving people grammar pointers. Not only that but he is clearly showing his bias and posted that he thought Taleb a bigot. This is pure harrassment. Since Wikipedia is clearly not the place to come to resolve one's shocking number of inaccurates any more then it is to have an WP:Axe to Grind. This individual has shown then they are but another of the group that Taleb has ridiculed and they do not like it and are completely willing to come to a neutral source and attempt to corrupt it through (just like Taleb stated) the style over substance fallacy and various other slanderous and unethical behaviour. Rather then going to science and refuting Taleb, they appear to be unable to do so and because of this engage in harrassement instead. To engage in this negative behaviour is to waste everyones time and effort by trying to extract their "revenge". Taleb is to be vilified because Elroch does not like what Taleb has said. I wonder in the UK, if this type of treatement of public record is taught? Which is exactly what Wikipedia is not for. Which makes me think that Elroch is biased in such away that he can not keep neutrality. Elroch appears to be too close to the issue to edit on any of Taleb's articles and his above comments reflect that he can not be impartial and will instead continue to edit war and attack rather then reflect on his own person and start engaging in what is productive for Wikipedia.

He will instead deflect, criticise everyone but himself and continue to exhibit obstanance while returning to his non-productive behaviour. Since he obviously is editing on Taleb's bio and his subjects out of a need for revenge or retribution. Which is exactly what Wikipedia is NOT FOR. Like I stated before reason will not work on people engaged in this type of behaviour which has all of the earmarks of WP:office. Taleb is only going to continue to be a target of this type of shameful behaviour. As their theories continue to fail they will attempt to silence their critics by any means necessary. Since as Taleb points out that academia is not at all a place open to criticism and or debate but is rather exactly what the word institution means (hence Taleb is an epistemological liberarian, as Wikipedia is an epistemological libertarian experiment). And it is editors like Elroch who establish this type of close minded institutionalize and bureaucractic condition and it's resistence to criticism, efficiency, improvement and change and instead attack- slander- harrass. We all have seen this and felt this when trying to actually get from an institution what is promised. Instead we get not the promised but excuses for failure and policies to re-enforce the impotence's justification. Taleb made his comments and actions out of exhaustion from trying to bring about change via the "proper channels" and promises of academia. Elroch is but one representitive of this same established conduct and it's sad failure. Who continue with their warring rather then admit that they have by their own passions, behaviour and ridicule- stopped the free exchange of ideas. LoveMonkey (talk) 13:31, 19 February 2009 (UTC)

I am frankly puzzled by the above shrill tirade, which bears no relationship to my constructive edits to the article, as anyone who examines the edit record will see.
Please could you explain the basis of your statement that an author may prevent a group of people from contributing to a Wikipedia article by ridiculing them? In the areas in which I have studied and worked over the past three decades, we arrive at the truth by a process of combining solid facts in a logical way: the technique of silencing potential commentators by insult is not one with which I am familiar. "The Black Swan" contains pejorative and insupportable general comments about Europeans, Eastern Europeans, statisticians, mathematicians and academics, which might affect over a billion possible editors, including many who have deep understanding of some topics on which Taleb has expressed less well-informed views.

Elroch (talk) 23:50, 22 February 2009 (UTC)

Again as clearly as I can state it -Taleb is to be vilified because Elroch does not like what Taleb has said. And Again disprove Taleb with science with research not fallacy. You can not disprove him by labeling him some loathsome, cheap nonsense and calling him (gasp!) a politically incorrect term like bigot. No editor here will empathize wth you for coming here and botching the Taleb related articles because you have an axe to grind. And yes wikipedia has every right to believe that people should tolerate opposing points of view. And that academics (above all others) should behave according to policy. Since as academics, criticism should be based on fact and science not opinion or some childish retailiation for getting their feelings hurt by being criticised. Most certainly all of your experience should give you some insight into actually getting data and research to counter what Taleb has said. Or maybe he is right about the difference between the Fat Tonys and the academics. LoveMonkey (talk) 16:44, 23 February 2009 (UTC)


Let post here some of those academic criticisms that Elroch was talking about that need to be included in the article. As a means of collaboration. LoveMonkey (talk) 15:43, 19 February 2009 (UTC)

I would suggest someone who has the time and inclination to execute some searches on the Internet. An open-minded scan through the large number of reviews of "the black swan" on Amazon is a good way to get a range of views, from the uninformed to the expert, including some stated statisticians. Statisticians and others who have better understanding of specific scientific subjects and mathematics than Taleb are largely exasperated by issues such as Taleb's naive and misleading characterisation of statistics (which deals with all distributions, not just the gaussian) and his crude and misleading view that statistical systems are divided into "Mediocristan" and "Extremistan", rather than belonging to a vast continuum of possible systems. To a mathematician this sounds as dumb as someone explaining the natural numbers to someone as being divided into Gigantistan and Teenyweenystan, which does not help understanding at all, and would merely obscures their true nature. To a trusting, less knowledgeable reader, such nonsense is unfortunately likely to mislead. To show the degree to which Taleb fails to acknowledge the scope of basic statistics, take a look at the highly relevant topic of kurtosis. No acknowledgement of this concept is to be found in "the Black Swan", but it is almost as old as statistics itself and should be known to any student who applies statistics. Elroch (talk) 20:08, 1 March 2009 (UTC)
Taleb is diligently handling kurtosis | here which is the technical appendix of the | Edge piece which is now peer-reviewed and awaits publication. Yechezkel Zilber (talk) 21:16, 2 March 2009 (UTC)

Thank you Yechezkel Zilber! That is most excellent. LoveMonkey (talk) 13:06, 3 March 2009 (UTC)

This is indeed relevant and worthwhile, but Taleb's analysis solidly supports the view that the kurtosis of real markets is moderate (of course the actual value of kurtosis depends strongly on the choice of the particular statistic chosen and particularly on the time scale of variation being considered). The page referred to contains an important error in confusing "unstable" or "uncertain" and "infinite". Yes it is true that our knowledge of future kurtosis is uncertain in a way which is distinct from the uncertainty in the situation where we have a statistical model which we know to be absolutely accurate (such as for casino games, for example). This is in common with most other real world applications of statistics. However it is unreasonable to state that kurtosis is infinite when every single measurement of kurtosis on real market statistics gives a fairly small positive number. While those who use Gaussian statistics are guilty of underestimating kurtosis when they assume it is zero, Taleb is guilty of overestimating it when he claims it is infinity.
This is highly relevant to a central philosophical argument in Taleb's work. Taleb says that because there may be huge unknowables which may have huge inpacts, this makes it pointless to base our beliefs about the future on best (statistical) extrapolation from the past. A contrasting view is that we should base our actions on the best judgement of what may happen in the future, based on what has happened in the past. It is clear that financial organisations have been guilty of using the wrong statistical models to estimate risk. Taleb scandalously places the blame in the wrong place (like blaming the manufacturer of a chisel because someone used it as a screwdriver) and gives the bad advice that financial organisations should give up entirely on quantitative risk estimation (presumably replacing quantitative methods by vague non-quantitative judgement). The contrasting view is that better models that conservatively estimate the risk of extreme events must be used, whether they be appropriate statistical models or Monte Carlo models. There is an interesting (loose) analogy with computer games, where the best chess player is now a program which is very thorough in its analysis of variations, but the best go program uses Monte Carlo methods because of the much larger branching factor. However, there is a problem with Monte Carlo models that it is difficult to estimate the reliability of the predictions when one is making very sparse samples in a configuration space with a large number of dimensions.
Taleb is wrong to attack the Central Limit Theorem (which is a mathematical truth) in his article, and fails to point out the important point that it does not apply to the systems being discussed. The statistics concerned are not the sum of a very large number of independent random variables because the components of markets are generally correlated. The behaviours of the participants in markets are correlated by the fact that they share both fundamental information and information about the past behaviour of markets, and the behaviour of different components of a stock market are often correlated because they are part of the same economy. These are reasons why markets trend, and is why real markets do not exhibit Gaussian statistics. It is an error to blame the Gaussian, or the Central Limit Theorem: it simply does not apply to these systems. So while Taleb points out that even in circumstances where the Central Limit Theorem applies, convergence, particularly of higher moments, can be slow (an interesting mathematical point), this is irrelevant to real markets, where the conditions required by the Central Limit Theorem do not hold, and the statistics will never become Gaussian.
A proper peer review should require changes to address these and other issues. Elroch (talk) 15:26, 7 March 2009 (UTC)
There is one quote from the Taleb's technical appendix that encapsulates several of the problems with his work. He says "People discuss central limit: how the sum of N random variables (with finite variance and some independence) converge to the Gaussian basin. This is mathematically wrong." With this bold statement he presents himself as an authority on mathematics and claims that others are "mathematically wrong" (rather than the more supportable statement that many non-mathematicians wield the theorem in situations where it does not apply). Let us instead examine the truth. The central limit theorem is a mathematical theorem that is as solid a fact as that any even number can be expressed as a sum of two odd numbers (I choose this analogy as an example of a trivial mathematical theorem that almost any educated person would accept as undeniably true). However, it is not so trivial to understand the precise meaning of the central limit theorem. Taleb indicates by what he writes that he does not understand either the precise meaning of the theorem or the concepts which are used in its statement, but in his naivety he feels qualified to assert its falsity. The central limit theorem relies on absolutely precise definitions (of random variable, convergence of random variables, independence of random variables (not "some" independence), variance of a random variable, etc. and there is a proof that with the stated conditions, convergence to a gaussian distribution occurs. In addition, all the moments converge to the moments of the gaussian, with higher moments converging increasingly slowly. The proof of these statements forms part of the body of mathematics that could, if required, be encoded in a formal system so that the truth of the theorem could be checked by computer, with the same reliability that a computer is able to add two numbers together. Taleb is blind, or chooses to be blind to the absolute nature of mathematical truth. It is unlikely that he has ever put in the time (supposing he had the ability) to develop the necessary level of understanding of the theory of distributions and measure spaces, still less their natural context in functional analysis. These are rather advanced topics only reached at the end of a good mathematics degree course or in a graduate course, which Taleb lacks. There is no shame in Taleb not having this knowledge, what is to be condemned is the arrogance to make "cargo science" statements like the one I quoted at the start of this paragraph. In order to make valid statements about the central limit theorem, it is necessary to first understand the concepts used in the theorem and Taleb clearly does not. If a journal that claims to do proper peer reviews does publish this work with careless statements like this in it, I suppose all that can be said is that it does support Taleb's stated belief that (at least in his corner of the academic world) the peer review system does not work.
I believe that part of the problem could be sloppy thinking about the scope of a mathematical theorem. The central limit theorem does not apply at all to any situation where its conditions fail to hold. Using my trivial analogy above if someone presents you with an odd number and complains that it is not a sum of two odd numbers, this obviously does not cast any doubt on the fact that all even numbers are a sum of two odd numbers. Taleb may be proud of his distant ancestry from an Middle Eastern potentate, but it is worth remembering the anecdote about Euclid who reportedly patiently explained to the first king of Egypt that "there is no royal road to geometry". These days it would be appropriate to replace the word "geometry" by mathematics. Elroch (talk) 18:33, 8 March 2009 (UTC)

Wiki is not for original research.
Technical arguments with Taleb belong to peer-reviewed journals. And should not be directed toward his literary non-technical works. You just do not expect a non-technical books to contain the kind of qualifications and definitions of a journal paper.
Please write a criticism to the journal. If accepted it will be included here in the criticism section. Yechezkel Zilber (talk) 03:24, 10 March 2009 (UTC)
Published criticism of the work of Taleb can be of interest for inclusion in this article. I guess that some ot the comments of Elroch above has been mentioned in the articles in American Stat, and hence are candidates for inclusion in this Wikipedia article. Ulner (talk) 20:26, 5 June 2009 (UTC)

Indeed --that is the point raised here, that technical criticism should address TECHNICAL work not literary books. Also user beware too much of the ad hominem stuff you have been posting in place of two-sided debate --and certainly be aware of the fact that violation of NPOV with a agenda is defamatory. ~~ —Preceding unsigned comment added by IbnAmioun (talkcontribs) 20:58, 5 June 2009 (UTC)

IbnAmioun - I do not understand your reference to user. Are you refeering to some specific Wikipedia contributor? In particular, do you intend to state that my recent edits are "defamatory" or "libelous", and that I should revert my edits or face the possbility of being sued for defamation? If so, please specify which edits you find defamatory. Regarding the question of whether technical criticism should be allowed in the article, I think that published criticism of a technical nature of the popular books of Taleb are of a general interest, and should be included in the Criticism section. Of course, we need to keep the article balanced; see [[2]], and have to be careful to give a neutral presentation of the subject. Best regards Ulner (talk) 21:29, 5 June 2009 (UTC)

Thanks Ulner. The point is that there are only a few technical discussions and the tendency is for the few detractors who came here to put only the ad hominem part (usually out of context), not any intellectual argument. An assassination of character and defamatory action corresponds to the systematic posting of negative elements that aim at discrediting a person and hurting his credibility/business interests. By posting an ad hominem attack by Scholes you appear to be part of that wave. IbnAmioun —Preceding undated comment added 22:56, 5 June 2009 (UTC).

The books by Taleb are discussing the Black-Scholes model, and for this reason I think that comments by Scholes about Taleb are of big general interest. Wikipedia is not censored, and we do not have to take Taleb's business interest into account when writing this article. I found that the highly relevant comments by Scholes have been deleted in a closely related article: [3]. In my earlier edit I had one sentence by Scholes. In the new version this has been changed to three sentences - two sentences explaining Taleb's POV, an one sentence explaining Scholes' POV. The rewritten version is in effect biased in favour of Taleb's POV.
Following Wikipedia:Assume good faith, I think you are try to keeping the article free of libel. But, by claiming that any statements critical of Taleb are defamatory, you are in effect keeping the number of critical statements of Taleb in the article at a minimum. But as a non-censored encyclopedia, relevent public criticism of Taleb are of interest in biographical articles, and does not in my opinion violate NPOV. Ulner (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 00:02, 6 June 2009 (UTC).

better image —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:20, 22 March 2009 (UTC)

Literary Essayist

Has M. Taleb been described by anyone other than himself as a "literary essayist"? I have not seen any "essays" of his published, some books and academic papers but not what might be called an essay, as nebulous a category as that is. --AleXd (talk) 12:04, 4 June 2009 (UTC)

I agreee - I've changed literary essayist to writer. Ulner (talk) 00:08, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
IbnAmioun recently put the old formulation back - literary essayist: [4]. Perhaps we can discuss the issue here?

There are 59000 Taleb essayists on the web (google search). User Ulner is exhibiting a pattern here.IbnAmioun (talk) 10:44, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

Google Search is not used as the criterium for what to include in Wikipedia articles. I agree with AleXd that Taleb has not written any essays (a short piece of writing about a paricular subject by a student as part of a course of study) - please correct me if I am wrong. I think the formulation writer is more appropriate. Ulner (talk) 10:53, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

YOU are not the one who decides on who is a literary essayist ---if (as the google search would reveal) The Hay Literary Festival and OTHER literary festivals AND the literary sections of Journals designate him as a literary essayist. You should look at the consequences of obsessive stalking a character. IbnAmioun (talk) 10:58, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

Taleb himself is using the description "literary essayist", but as AleXd says, no "essays" of him are published and this makes the description literary essayist a bit misleading. Which journals designate him a literary essayist? I couldn't find any information about Taleb on the web page of The Hay Literary Festival. (By the way, if you reply to this comment you can use two colons in the beginning - this will make the talk page easier to read). Ulner (talk) 11:31, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

Taleb is an essayist. His books are literary essays. Mr. Ulner seems to be engaged in a character assassination and in stalking him with an agenda. Mr. Ulner makes no sense. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Viktorbuehler (talkcontribs) 12:54, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

Please avoid personal comments about me - let us discuss the issue about whether to write "literary essayist" or "writer" instead. As AlexD has written above, his books and papers cannot reasonably be called an essay (because an essay is a short piece of writing - and his books are not short pieces of writing), and for this reason literary essayist is a bit misleading. Ulner (talk) 18:44, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

Viktorbuehler and IbnAmioun don't seem to be advancing the question very far, with mere assertion rather than argument. The point was that the term "literary essayist" (actually "part-literary essayist") seems to have been used by Taleb to describe himself in the blurb of his most recent book. If there are alot of results in google, this is probably because the books has sold lots of copies, and lots of people have copied and pasted the blurb - this is not a reason for an encylopedia to propagate the term. There really should be some authoritive reliable source to use this honourific and misleading term.

I've certainly never heard the term before, probably because it doesn't make sense. Is he writing essays about literature? em, no. Can an essay be anything other than literary? It is, after all, a piece of literature. In any case he does not work in the essay genre; on some rare occasions books can be described as "essays", usually they are short monographs, or pamphlets or polemics.

I second Ulner's plea for polite, rational discussion. Also pleaes try and back up your arguments. Thanks, --AleXd (talk) 00:08, 7 June 2009 (UTC)

Answering a request for a third opinion: It seems you guys are more than just two editors discussing this issue, and so strictly speaking the third opinion function is not the appropriate way to move forward, see WP:3#How to list a dispute. Try to argue reasonably and refer to reliable sources (I agree, a simple google search is not enough) - if you don't get any closer to consensus, you may post a request for comment. --Anderssl (talk) 20:15, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

Suranah has written the following argument below in this talk page: "Taleb is chiefly known as an essayist, who has written both semi-philosophical prose and academic research papers." This does not counter the arguments given by me and AleXd above, where we claim that the term essayist is misleading. Academic papers are not essays, and his books are not essays - do you mean some other shorter articles fit into the concept of essayist? Ulner (talk) 15:03, 18 June 2009 (UTC)

Taleb's books are in a sense a collection of essays. Every chapter usually can stand alone Yechezkel Zilber (talk) 08:17, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
I did not write that to counter what you have written about the exact use of the word essayist. But rather to point out that we know NNT as an essayist/writer/thinker not a hedge fund manager, and how that is far more important than his returns. I am not particularly concerned about the exact wording of the article. It may be said that Taleb is a writer instead of an essayist (I am not sure though). But NNT's writing style is certainly unique and idiosyncratic, and I think that the article should certainly represent that in some way. Suranah (talk) 06:49, 20 June 2009 (UTC)
Taleb is an essayist in the old traditional sense: he follows the ruminating style of Montaigne as his patron saint. He wrote (I have here the French Introduction of text in "Hasard Sauvage" "ce livre est un essai personnel principalement axé sur mes propres réflexions, mes batailles, et certaines observations issues de mon expérience en matière de prise de risque. Il ne s’agit pas d'un traité, et encore moins d'un rapport de vulgarisation scientifique (loin de moi cette pensée ! Les idées de ce livre sont primaires, et non des reformulations secondaires)." Essayist is different from journalistic nonfiction as it presents primary ideas in a "nondefinitive way", essay = "attempt". Also he says on notebook that he writes to give "writing experience" not to provide ideas, and uses ideas as excuses to write. Any attempt at not calling him essayist is purely idiotic. (talk) 07:04, 21 June 2009 (UTC)

More info needed about scholarly publications

The following articles need more info about in which academic journal they were published, or ISBN number for books:

  • Taleb, N. N. (2004) “Randomness and the Arts”, Literary Criticism/Critique Littéraire
  • Taleb, N., and Tapiero, C.Too Big to Fail and the Fallacy of Large Institutions (forthcoming)
  • Mandelbrot, B. and Taleb, N.N. (in Press). Random Jump, not Random Walk. In Francis Diebold and Richard Herring (Eds.), The Known, the Unknown, and the Unknowable, Princeton University Press
  • Pilpel, A. and Taleb, N.N., 2009 (in Press), “Beliefs, Decisions, and Probability” , in (eds. T. O' Connor & C. Sandis) A Companion to the Philosophy of Action (Wiley-Blackwell).

I was not able to find the books on amazon - perhaps someone can help include more details about these books? Ulner (talk) 19:15, 4 June 2009 (UTC)

I think some of them are academic books too, like Dynamic Hedging, which was mentioned in the New Yorker profile and has an ISBN number. The bibliography should differentiate between journal papers and books. "Scholarly publications" sounds a little iffy. --AleXd (talk) 08:41, 12 June 2009 (UTC)

The bibliography should distinguish between general and literary books (i.e., essays) and academic material (i.e. scholarly). Dynamic Hedging is academic material. (talk) 12:48, 12 June 2009 (UTC)

Criticism section

Now the section states: Taleb said that Scholes is responsible to the financial crises of 2008, and suggested that "This guy should be in a retirement home doing Sudoku, His funds have blown up twice. He shouldn't be allowed in Washington to lecture anyone on risk" [36]. Scholes retorted that Taleb simply "popularises ideas and is making money selling books". Scholes also claimed that Taleb does not cite previous literature, and for this reason Taleb is not taken seriously in academia.[37]. Listing his academic works on the topics in "The Black Swan" Taleb said that "Academics should comment on data there not make technical comments on a LITERARY book" [38]

This seems strange to me. The critique from Scholes was published before the statement "This guy should be in a retirement home doing Sudoku, His funds have blown up twice. He shouldn't be allowed in Washington to lecture anyone on risk" by Taleb? This means that this section is incorrect, or? Ulner (talk) 17:09, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
I remember seeing this citation in an interview where Scholes was asked about Taleb's citation and replied as said. I should find the link. Besides, Taleb has attacked Scholes before in various places, and Scholes once said he does not want to answer as not to glorify Talbe (which sounds like escaping the debate). I ignored all these, because of lack of time to research for references Yechezkel Zilber (talk) 16:17, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
I understand. The sentence is good, but it would be nice to have an earlier dated citation of the critique of Scholes by Taleb. Ulner (talk) 18:48, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
It turns out Taleb has already attacked Scholes in TBS pages 279 onward, see also [5] Yechezkel Zilber (talk) 08:13, 12 June 2009 (UTC)
Having thinking about the criticsm section some more, I would suggest deleting the phrase about the attacks between Taleb and Scholes - because this does not discuss the merits of Taleb's ideas on risk. I am interested in hearing the opinions of others first, before deleting this phrases. Ulner (talk) 14:26, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

Fields in Scientist Infobox

I removed the word "Scholar" from the Scientist infobox. I think it seems to be unnecessary because all scientists are Scholars, and we already state that Taleb is a Statistician (and hence a Scholar). My edit was reversed by IbnAmioun.

I have the last day made several small changes to the article. One change was an inclusion of criticism from Scholes of Taleb. Another a very small change where I changed literary essayist to writer.

I find it distrubing that IbnAmioun in all his comments about my edits are aggresively defending his point of view, and making personal attacks questioning my motives, and talking about "assassination of character and defamatory action", "You should look at the consequences of obsessive stalking a character", and finally, accusing me of a physiatric disorder: "Ulner seems to have an obsessive disorder with Taleb."; [6]. I find these accusations out of proportion to my small changes. I would like IbnAmioun to engage in a debate how to best write this Wikipedia article in a calm way, without making personal attacks all the time. Ulner (talk) 23:48, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

Agreed on all points. --AleXd (talk) 00:09, 7 June 2009 (UTC)

1) Scholar implies publications in more than one narrow field. Statistician does not imply scholar --since subject has published in other areas as well and is defined as a scholar in scholarly venues. Subject has published in variety of fields, including philosophy.

2) "Literary essayist" as opposed to "writer" (as the subject in described in LITERARY journals and supplements comes from his attempt at being literary, not journalistic in his writings --why should you be more credible than classification by literary festivals? IbnAmioun (talk) 00:30, 7 June 2009 (UTC)

3) When someone like Ulner spends his ENTIRE time obsessed with a subject, this raises issues of stalking that may play a role in a COURT of LAW.

The above legal threat has been reported to the Administrators' noticeboard. IbnAmioun, please have a look at WP:NLT - and please: Grow up. --Anderssl (talk) 21:04, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
i) Mr Taleb researches the field of risk management and epistemology. He hasn't published across different disciplines as you say.

ii)By "literary journals" do you mean book review? It is not fiction or literary criticism. It is non-fiction; written for the popular rather academic market. Mr Taleb has raised the "literary" book defence when he feels criticised by academics and experts in the area. His writing style has been the most criticised aspect for the Black Swan. If you want to keep going on this point I think you will end up outing alot of criticism of your friend's prose style.
iii) Please stop making the unneccessary attacks on Ulner, he is not a stalker but working hard, in good faith, on a wikipedia article. Pretty soon you will be accused of an obession with him. You, Ibnamioun, are the one with a particular interest here, as evidenced by your editing history and delaration of support for Mr Taleb on your userpage. WP:BLP actually states that friends of the subject should avoid making edits to the article. If you do want to contribute, please do so in a positive way - you are more than capable - and use reliable third party sources to bakc your arguments. Thank you. --AleXd (talk) 09:06, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
It is and repeatedly has been my position on this article that the style over substance fallacy is not justifiable and should not be defended. PERIOD. It is explicit stated that ANY fallacy should not be posted in any article here on wiki. Such an obvious thing, such an obvious thing. Again however it is being fought for and defended. As for WP:BLP and conflict of interest as a defense against removing defamation, if Professor Taleb picks up the phone and WP:OFFICEs then I bet that quoting WP:POLICY like scripture will not only fall on deaf ears but will just fan the flames of retaliation. WIKI IS NOT THE PLACE WITH AN AXE TO GRIND defending fallacies and negative behavior is not acceptable. It can be taken by the person of the bio as slander and character assassination. IT IS BEYOND SHAMEFUL THAT Ulner HAS ALREADY POSTED UNBALANCED AND ONESIDED CRITICISM AND THEN CALLED INTO QUESTION ANOTHER EDITOR FOR ADDING BALANCE AND NPOV BACK INTO THE ARTICLE. It betrayed in Ulner that Ulner was not a knowledgeable, or as informed as they should be contributor and maybe arguing and attacking as a ruse to cover for biased contributions that are here to not balance criticism but to defamed Professor Taleb. This reoccurring nonsense by a cavalcade of fallacy posting editors should not tolerated by any living person and if I had any suggestion for Professor Taleb it would be to WP:OFFICE. Enough, this repeat hateful played out shameful behavior is beyond getting old. Professor Taleb should not have to suffer this foolishness well, he should not suffer it at all.

LoveMonkey (talk) 01:18, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

What fallacies? I am encouraging people to adhere to WP:BLP, so quoting that policy like scripture will defend us against libel. Secondly, what we've been trying to do is remove fantastic claims inserted by people, not make unfair negative ones.--AleXd (talk) 10:23, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

Again the Style over substance fallacy who cares if you don't like Taleb's writing style what about the substance or validity of the points he raises. You explicitly attempted to justify posting such a fallacy as a valid point of contention in your comments above.
"His writing style has been the most criticised aspect for the Black Swan. If you want to keep going on this point I think you will end up outing alot of criticism of your friend's prose style."
Wiki does not condone reprinting or posting fallacies, there is no justification. Cause the media is doing it does not justify it. You know this. Again you will not listen and neither will your cohort. You will argue. You and your cohort are and have even argued that Taleb is not a literary essayist and stated you are justified because his essays are too long to be essays. Your pedantic wrangling is nothing but a ruse you are here to defame. How else can you justify such nonsense. Why did your cohort post only one side of the argument about Myron Scholes. Do you agree with Ulner on all points there? Why are you defending him? Considering the weight of the individuals (both are Professors and one a Nobel Peace Prize winner) and the importants of the topic, the comments posted where biased and one sided. Address this. There is a history between Taleb and Scholes, period. Why was no information given to clarify that theirs is an on going dispute rather Scholes just out of the blue making hefty criticism toward Taleb? Why no addition into Scholes' bio?? We know why, because it will get removed if you handled it the same there as here-for what it is, non-notable and inappropriate. You know what you are doing, you are all grown up and your motivations can not be masked by your seemingly deficient understanding. I bet your probably abit more then just someone with a passing interest.

LoveMonkey (talk) 12:48, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

According to LoveMonkey, scholar means that you have published in several fields - and I agree. It gives a feeling that the person has a broad education and knows a number of different subjects. In fact - to me it seems to be an an emotionally charged word - and for this it should be excluded from a neutral encyclopedia article. Ulner (talk) 17:05, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

There has been some discussion about WP:BLP above, and I think the following sentence is of interest here: "Although Wikipedia discourages people from writing about themselves, a tolerant attitude should be taken in cases where subjects of articles remove unsourced or poorly sourced material." Furthermore, "The Arbitration Committee has ruled in favor of showing leniency to the subjects of biographies who try to remove what they see as errors or unfair material". See [[7]]. But it is important that all contributors try to comment on content, not on the contributor - and avoid personal attacks. I have also requested a third opinion about this article - perhaps other editors can help us reach some consensus here. Ulner (talk) 18:33, 8 June 2009 (UTC)


Taleb is Angry with Economists

It should be noted between all involved contributors here on wiki there is one repeated point that Taleb has made. The whole point of his work is to find scientific solutions (like stochastics) to economic anonomies or problems. It seems no one wants to address the current short falls and would rather attack then get to work. Taleb is pointing out the limits of methods in economics as they are now. Taleb has made the point his intention is "not to be negative" and he has stated he explicitly "wants to be wrong" but that in honesty to himself he can not be optimistic about methods that he has tried and experience. He has to be honest about what happens when those methods are used and how they succeed or fail. He will not mislead anyone about risk. LoveMonkey (talk) 13:32, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

How should Taleb's writing style be described in the article?

Currently the article says the following: "Taleb's extremely idiosyncratic literary approach consists of providing a modern-day brand of philosophical tale by mixing narrative fiction, often semi-autobiographical, with erudition and scientific commentary".

The question raised earlier is whether this is a fair and neutral description of Taleb's style of writing.

In favour of this formulation, four reliable sources have been proposed;

  • [8]: A Q&A with Taleb - and hence cannot be a reliable neutral source which reviews his writing style
  • [9]: Radio clip from BBC which points out that the fictional character Yevgenia Krasnova is used in the book
  • [10]: Includes some interesting comments by Taleb about his writing style (e.g. uses fictional characters)
  • [11]: Anonymous blog - no a reliable source

To me the part "modern-day brand of philosophical tale" sounds more like an advertisment for his books than a neutral encyclopedia article. I would propose the following formulation instead:

"Taleb's distinctive writing style uses mixing of narrative fiction, often semi-autobiographical, with scientific commentary". Ulner (talk) 18:56, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

Drop "distinctive". I suggest: "Taleb mixes narrative, sometimes semi-autobiographical fiction with scientific commentary in his writings. II | (t - c) 18:58, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

I can agree to this. When I removed those citations for exactly the reasons outlined here I too became the subject of Ibnamioun's attacks: "AleXD is engaging in pure harassment. The citations describe EXACTLY what the style is about".

The style, as now described in the article, is exactly the same as most non-fiction, popular books about economics, statistics, social science etc. We should be looking to in-depth reviews from experts to cite regarding both his style and ideas. --AleXd (talk) 19:07, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

What is the point in dropping the philosophy part? Taleb is named a philosopher by various philosophers. (john May, Jon Elster, and others). Idiosyncratic and distinctive are so different? I would bet idiosyncratic meets the point here as his style is indeed unusual.

Indeed, Taleb is an unusual character in that of being immersed in classical writings and philosophy, AND writing stuff that is readable today. That the black swan is a philosophy written in prose seems self-evident to me.

Yechezkel Zilber (talk) 20:55, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

But what is a philosophical tale? [12] The same as conte philosophique = Philosophical novel)? And if we mean philosophical novel, is TBS in that category? Then, what distinguishes a modern-day brand from the old ones? I still think this sounds a bit like an advertisment for the book. (And, of course, not every book written by a philosopher is a philosophical tale). Ulner (talk) 21:42, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

TBS is partly story telling. Much of the book is stories, either autobiographical, or fictional Yechezkel Zilber (talk) 21:57, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

"a book of philosophy and economics" [13] Yechezkel Zilber (talk) 22:07, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

TBS is a book about both philosophy and economics, but it is not philosophical novel because it is not a work of fiction. Some minor parts of the books (e.g. chapter two about Yevgenia's black swan - three pages - is a work of fiction). For this reason I will now change the sentence summarizing Taleb's writing style. I also prefer distinctive to idiosyncratic because distinctive seems like a more neutral description to me. Ulner (talk) 18:07, 10 June 2009 (UTC)

A philosophical tale is not a novel, but a parabola, like a short story. There is no promotion in using philosophical parable. (talk) 18:52, 10 June 2009 (UTC)

Most non-fiction is like this, see creative nonfiction. In any case you will need to find a reliable source that uses these terms, not OR. --AleXd (talk) 09:15, 11 June 2009 (UTC)

here you see philosophical tales. [14] Yechezkel Zilber (talk) 15:47, 11 June 2009 (UTC)

That's a conference blurb he wrote himself. Not to be used as per --AleXd (talk) 13:58, 12 June 2009 (UTC)

Threats Against the Taleb Family

The harassment situation is far more serious than you think, which is why we worry about such obsessive users as Ulner . Taleb and the Taleb family has been getting threats by unemployed finance people who have been stalking them both PHYSICALLY and on the WEB. These threats have been reported in the WSJ journal. <ref.</ref> —Preceding unsigned comment added by IbnAmioun (talkcontribs) 08:37, 10 June 2009 (UTC)
Hello IbnAmioun and thank you for our last chat, while threats are of course a terrible thing and all users must follow certain editing guidelines here on wikipedia these off wiki threats don't appear to be directly related to wikipedia activity and therefor not too relevant in context to this article. Also it's a good practice to sign your talkpage comments, there is a button in the toolbar above the editing field that you can use to sign your comments with. Best regards,--194x144x90x118 (talk) 00:36, 12 June 2009 (UTC)

Need more hedge fund performance info

Is any solid performance data available for his Empirica LLC hedge fund? We have a WSJ citation of "lackluster returns", and there are some blog postings, but no numbers. --John Nagle (talk) 19:09, 12 June 2009 (UTC)

The numbers and discussion are available on he Empirica and Universa pages. You have 60% for 2000 and upwards of 100% for 2008 that need to be included in numbers otherwise your "lackluster returns" become misleading. | (talk) 19:16, 12 June 2009 (UTC)

The exact performance numbers are in the various wsj articles83.236.135.58 (talk) 19:21, 12 June 2009 (UTC)
He's a hedge fund manager. His reputation is based on his returns. His numbers are relevant. That's how traders are measured. So we need hard numbers. --John Nagle (talk) 19:24, 12 June 2009 (UTC)
The hard numbers are there. Check them. NewEconomist (talk) 19:25, 12 June 2009 (UTC)
I'm looking. I've seen some rough numbers, but not enough to tell whether an investor would have come out ahead or behind. Hedge funds don't have to publish results, but the info usually leaks out. See [15]. Amusingly, that writer mentions that "the fund’s returns are not mentioned in Taleb’s Wikipedia profile". --John Nagle (talk) 19:29, 12 June 2009 (UTC)

The New Yorker article [16] describes Empirica in some detail. No numbers but definitely a reference that should be included. --AleXd (talk) 19:30, 12 June 2009 (UTC)

NUMBERS 2000-2004 are at [17] . Tavakoli appears to have a problem with Taleb (see FT Alphaville article). By regulation, you need to cite what is in the press and it is in the 2 wsj articles. If you see the ~ 60% in 2000 and > 100% in 2008, you may want to remove it as it won't portray Nassim in the negative light Tavakoli wants. (talk) 19:35, 12 June 2009 (UTC)
Again there was a smear campaign against Nassim after he published the Black Swan and people thought that he closed Empirica because of losses (he said he burned out emotionally and had "battle fatigue" from lack of volatility). Then it was investigated by the WSJ see the non-gated version at . You can also find the UNiversa returns at (nongated) (talk) 19:38, 12 June 2009 (UTC)
Note John Nagle that Nassim became friend with Barkley Rosser after the article you referenced and they cleared up the misunderstanding. (talk) 19:40, 12 June 2009 (UTC)
Empirica apparently had one good year (2000) when they were up 60%, two losing years (2001 and 2002), and two years where not much happened (2003 and 2004).[18] That's about what you'd expect for that strategy. Unfortunately, since this is a hedge fund, there are no SEC filings to access for audited numbers. --John Nagle (talk) 05:13, 13 June 2009 (UTC)

More of an essayist, part-scientist, ex-trader.

Several discussions here seem to be focusing on wrong, rather irrelevant things. Taleb is chiefly known as an essayist, who has written both semi-philosophical prose and academic research papers. His fund's returns while important, should not be the main concern. That is not how one can measure his philosophical statements. Moreover, he has claimed that his fund's aim was not to 'make' money but to protect his clients. NNT is generally against making exact statements about anything, not just his returns. This nitpicking about exact numbers really seems more of a smear campaign.

As for Taleb's attacks on economics, and more generally against a section of social science, his arguments can be found at various places. Some users seem to be taking strong viewpoints without either not being aware of his works, or not taking his arguments into consideration. For a start, please read his Edge piece on the Fourth Quadrant and see his more technical talk at the Perimeter Institute before making such preposterous comments. Sorry, but I could not help using that word after seeing this page.

I neither know NNT, nor agree with his opinions completely. I used to be an occasional wiki contributor. And I was almost forced to voice my opinions (which maybe held by others) after looking at the comments posted by some users.

Suranah (talk) 06:23, 13 June 2009 (UTC)

He just started a new fund. He's still a fund manager. He also writes books on economic subjects, as do George Soros, Warren Buffett, etc. --John Nagle (talk) 05:23, 14 June 2009 (UTC)
This makes no sense. He retired from trading --he is an advisor to his old firm; and he never wrote on economic subjects like Soros and Buffett. His books are rather classified, if anything, in Philosophy/Science. He specializes in probability, randomness and such matters. He is also a professor of Risk Engineering. Do not classify him that way. Please John Nagle get some facts.NewEconomist (talk) 05:52, 14 June 2009 (UTC)

All aspects of his work should be mentioned. The fact that he ran hedge funds in the past was part of the marketing for his "semi-philosophical" books. It's just one part of the article. --AleXd (talk) 08:37, 14 June 2009 (UTC)

All aspects of his work ARE mentioned in the article. But why do you make the statement that running a hedge fund was "marketing" for his books? Why don't you start focusing on the substance of his ideas for a change? And why are you bickering about every point in a CONTRADICTORY way since you were writing earlier that he was not multidisciplinary and wanted to reduce the scope of his activities? You cannot be editing a BLP when dissing the individual (talk) 10:00, 14 June 2009 (UTC)
It's nice that more people are joining the discussion. I agree with Suranah that his the merits of his philosophical arguments are independent from the returns of his funds. Still, I think the returns of his funds are of interest - but we should write the in an neutral way, see e.g. my edit [[19]]. We should avoid terms like lackluster returns and try to just state the facts. Ulner (talk) 10:34, 14 June 2009 (UTC)
Keep the returns of the funds in the Empirica page. You may need to state also his 1987 performance (since he claims his options pay off very very rarely, you need a longer window). The point is that Taleb's returns are massively positive, compared to the industry (the returns since 2000 in funds management have been horrible), and particularly now with 2008, but their effect is to divert the article into portray him like a fund manager when 1) he was providing hedging programs (as you see on his web site it was more of a risk management business), 2) he is an essayist and scientist.
I have not seen the 1987 returns, do you know of a reference? I tried to include all data about performance I found on the Internet. Ulner (talk) 12:01, 14 June 2009 (UTC)

I am not expressing my judgments here, but trying to use the kind of 'logic' which some people claim to here- the truth is much much more fuzzier and unknowable, but just for the sake of arguments and the article.

Let us consider that Taleb got lucky during 1985-87, and he did made a lot of money (which entails that his strategy was not good for making money generally). The whole point is that NNT does not say that he provides a hedge fund for making a lot of money, it is more of an insurance for high net-worth people. He wrote that even in the Black Swan, after Empirica was 'closed' and he did not had Universa's 2008 returns. So, comparing him as just another fund manager does not make sense.

We can even consider that NNT infact did not make a lot of money, and it is all a rumor etc. The point now is he never used his returns on Black Monday as a pointer to anything, both his ideas and Empirica/Universa. And before the crash, he has only said that he made 97% of the money he ever made on that day. Again, if has used his returns for marketing, he has only used them privately for his fund. This kind of 'marketing' has no manifestations for better or for worse on any section of the general public. This focus on his exact returns hence seem nothing but nitpicking to me.

On a more general note, NNT wrote this on his web notebook:

Thierry de la Villehuchet --an acquaintance of mine -- just killed himself in the aftereffects of the Madoff case. He had dragged his clients into investing with Madoff . "Killing himself over money?" I kept hearing. No, it is not about the money --it was other people's money. It is about dignity. I could not help comparing it to Madoff, pictured walking around Manhattan with a faint smirk --totally insensitive to the harm he caused.

This is an aristocratic act coming from an aristocratic character: you take your own life when you believe that you failed somewhere -- and the solution is to inflict the ultimate penalty on yourself. It is not the money; but the embarrassment, the shame, the guilt that are hard to bear. Someone callous, indifferent to the harm done to others would have lived comfortably ("it is all about money"). A life of shame is not worth living. Christianity never allowed suicide; the stoics did --it allows a man to get the last word with fate.

Thierry, veuillez recevoir l'expression de mon respect le plus profond.

Taleb does not says such things in public to defend himself, but he seems to be a person who respects dignity a lot. He may seem arrogant, but he says "I don't know" for most questions beyond his expertise/knowledge. When people point to errors in his work, and if he agrees with them, he states so wherever he could. All this really seems a smear campaign against Taleb.

Suranah (talk) 01:21, 15 June 2009 (UTC)

Suranah, I have replied to your discussion about whether Taleb should be called a essayist above - in the section "Literary Essayist". Ulner (talk) 15:04, 18 June 2009 (UTC)


Why has it been deleted? Taleb is multilingual, whihc is called polyglot. What is the problem with the term? Yechezkel Zilber (talk) 18:05, 5 July 2009 (UTC)

From the wikipedia page "polyglot": Polyglot (person) - someone who aptly and with a high level of fluency uses many languages. The word derives from the Ancient Greek πολύγλωττος (poluglōttos, “'many-tongued, polyglot'”), from πολύς (polus, “many”) + γλῶττα (glōtta, “'tongue, language'”). I thought that this term was unnecessary (the sentence after explained which languages Taleb uses) - and that it is a somewhat vague term open to interpretation - and for this reason should be avoided. Which languages do you think Taleb use aptly and with a high level of fluency? Ulner (talk) 21:09, 5 July 2009 (UTC)
Had a quick look for some uses of polyglot in Wikipedia: Found the articles about Mario Pei, Ziad Fazah, Arundathi Nag and János Apáczai Csere - which perhaps can be used in the discussion of what is appropriate use of the term polyglot. Ulner (talk) 21:23, 5 July 2009 (UTC)

This discussion makes NO sense. Why this bickering if polyglot is someone who knows many languages? Please stop the sophistry. (talk) 12:37, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

I want a neutral encyclopedia which is not biased in any way. English is not my mother tongue so perhaps I am interpreting polyglot in the wrong way - but it seem imply that the person is has impressive language skills worthy of admiration. For this reason I would avoid the term in this case. Now the article states exactly which languages Taleb know - i.e. it simply states the facts and makes no valuation. A reference for the specific language skills is also missing, and should be included. Ulner (talk) 14:20, 7 July 2009 (UTC)
Stating facts with no evaluation is also kind of misrepresentation. BEcause the message of a single word is very different from that of a list of technical details.
in is the definition

–adjective 1. able to speak or write several languages; multilingual. 2. containing, composed of, or written in several languages: a polyglot Bible.

–noun 3. a mixture or confusion of languages. 4. a person who speaks, writes, or reads a number of languages. 5. a book, esp. a Bible, containing the same text in several languages.

Nowhere is hundred languages mentioned there. bible with several languages is polyglot, too. Yechezkel Zilber (talk) 17:36, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

I don't understand why just stating the fact can be a kind of misrepresentation; "Let the facts speak for themselves" is one recommendation under WP:NPOV. What do you think about this formulation: "Taleb, who is multilingual, has a literary fluency in English, French..."? Is it okay? Second, we need a reference for his language skills - the reference now only says he is a "polymath and a polyglot". Ulner (talk) 17:54, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

This behavior on the part of User: Ulner constitutes harassment --finding the smallest topic and start bickering over a technicality. User:Ulner does not appear to have any other editorial function except the Taleb page. Also there is evidence of inconsistency: [posting criticism against Taleb then removing it when it fails under counterbalance. You do not want to start again. Nor can you seek protection by invoking wikipedia rules as the rule of the LAW is above whatever web internal rules. WEBSTALKING is WEBSTALKING and is not lawfulIbnAmioun (talk) 18:21, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

I think that this article in some respects are biased in favour of a positive description of Taleb. My suggestions for change of the small parts of the article is intended to make the article more neutral. I do not understand your comment about "evidence of inconsistency". Ulner (talk) 18:33, 7 July 2009 (UTC)
I found a reference to a book review in SIAM News, where the languages spoken by Taleb is discussed. I added this ref in the article. Ulner (talk) 15:47, 9 July 2009 (UTC)

Critical of industry?

Now the article states: "A specialist in financial derivatives[7] (while critical of the industry), he held a "day job" in a lengthy senior trading and financial mathematics career in a number of New York City's Wall Street firms,". Was Taleb critical of the industry at the time he held a "day job" in a number of Wall Street firms? If not, I suggest to delete "while critical of the industry". Ulner (talk) 13:10, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

Hi, the reference should be "fooled by randomness" in which he explains that wall street is about underestimation of luck. Also look on Taleb's site and you will see his attacks on banks taking hidden risks (since 1996).NewEconomist (talk) 14:37, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

Hi, I agree that he has been critical since at least 1997 [[20]] - but maybe he was working on Wall Street for a number of years before 1997? I would guess that his criticism was gradually developed while working at Wall Street (perhaps not critical in the beginning and then very critical later)? But this is just guesses from my point. Anyhow, the sentence now can be interpreted as that Taleb was critical of the industry from the first day he started working on Wall street. Ulner (talk) 17:31, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
Found this link [[21]] with an interview: "In 1985 he began trading at Bankers Trust and quickly discovered that rare events were more frequent than people believed ..." Ulner (talk) 21:50, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
According to Talbe in Fooled by randomness he was critical of the industry right from the start. He describes that he was seeing many things tehre as stupid.
His bets on rare events were back then. He made a fortune betting on a big change before black monday in 1987 Yechezkel Zilber (talk) 14:50, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
Thanks! I have will have a look in FBR and try to insert a precise reference to the Wikipedia article - do you know where I can find info about his 1987 bets? Ulner (talk) 15:01, 18 July 2009 (UTC)

Chapter 1 of The Black Swan. (talk) 21:06, 18 July 2009 (UTC)

Thanks for the hint! Ulner (talk) 21:57, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
"Blowing up" by malcolm gladwell should mention this. As well as the Bloomberg coverage of 2008. Both are probably refered to here Yechezkel Zilber (talk) 08:55, 20 July 2009 (UTC)
Couldn't find a reference for "while critical of industry" - perhaps someone can help me? Ulner (talk) 11:59, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
I have read the article by Malcolm Gladwell - and could not find any statement whether Taleb was critical of WS in the beginning of his career (which is the way I understand the sentence now). Was Taleb critical from the start? If not, we should rewrite this sentence. Ulner (talk) 13:35, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
Now I've reformulated the sentence so it is 100% clear. Ulner (talk) 13:47, 26 July 2009 (UTC)

Lineage of philosophers

"Taleb put a psychological, mathematical, and (mostly) practical framework around the philosophical problems in a long lineage of skeptical philosophers, including Socrates, Sextus Empiricus, Al-Ghazali, Pierre Bayle, Montaigne, David Hume and Karl Popper in believing that we know much less than we think we do, and that the past should not be used naively to predict the future. "

Is there some reference for his connection to these philosophers, or is this original research (or obviously correct and hence okay)? Ulner (talk) 12:18, 26 July 2009 (UTC)

The relationships is apparant from his books quite clearly. Have you read fooled by randomness and the black swan? I beleive it makes for a really good read, BTW. Yechezkel Zilber (talk) 19:19, 28 July 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for the tip about the books. The more I analyze this statement it seems strange and vague. Exactly which "philosophical problems" are meant? The last part is also rather vague: "we know much less than we think we do, and that the past should not be used naively to predict the future" - and does this at all relate to e.g. the philosophy of Karl Popper? I think this sentence should be rewritten or removed. Ulner (talk) 21:03, 28 July 2009 (UTC)
Now I tried to rewrite this part of the article somewhat to make it short and clear - I removed the sentence "Taleb put a psychological, mathematical, and (mostly) practical framework around the philosophical problems in a long lineage of skeptical philosophers, including Socrates, Sextus Empiricus, Al-Ghazali, Pierre Bayle, Montaigne, David Hume and Karl Popper...". If anyone would like to put this back it would be good if we describe exactly which philosophical problems of Socrates etc are developed further by Taleb in his books/articles. Ulner (talk) 21:15, 28 July 2009 (UTC)

You do realize that in Fooled by Randomness Taleb literally names these above philosophers by name and addresses each one and how they literally influenced what Taleb is trying to convey. Each one is a section or passage in the book. Why are you editing about a person without having even read one of their most popular works? You are textbook Wikipedia:Tendentious editing now.LoveMonkey (talk) 02:49, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

But do you not agree that the statement is vague? Which philosophical problems are meant here? I would guess philosophy of science or problem of induction - but then we should say the explicitly to make the sentence less vague. I have not yet read all of Taleb's works but I do not think that is necessary for contributing to this Wikipedia article. Ulner (talk) 10:39, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
However, I have read large parts of Taleb's popular books and to me it seems that one main point is emphasizing the importance of Popper's falsificationism - looking at stock date for e.g. 10 years you cannot say that a certain theory is correct. However, I do not believe Popper has said "we know much less than we think we do, and that the past should not be used naively to predict the future" - and I do not understand how this statement is related to Popper's ideas? Ulner (talk) 10:46, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
I couldn't find Sextus Empiricus in my version of FBR (second edition, updated by author, (C) 2004, 2005 Random House Paperback edition) - but I found Sextus Empiricus in the 2008 edition on amazon where Taleb writes: "Popper was not the originator of these ideas of asymmetry: a class of skeptical thinkers such as Sextus Empiricus, ... or al-Ghazali came up with the ideas before him, as well as Mill and Hume. But Popper rephrased the problem independently and put it in modern terms (page 124)". Ulner (talk) 11:21, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
??? You can't find them and then you found them? Vague? Since when is Hume's problem of induction NOT VAGUE. That is Humes argument that people finding the connection between two things and calling it scientific is VAGUE. That's Hume's point that Taleb uses as a foundation for his scepticism. Are people to give an overview of Taleb in this article or just reprint him? How can someone give an overview and it not be vague? Why are you making WP:OR statements about how you don't understand? That is contentious and has no bearing here. Why are you doing this? Did his scepticism toward econometrics or economists or scientivist injury your disposition? Can people not be critical in order to improve? What is Taleb saying to you that has caused you the need to come here and do this? Improvement is absolutely essential but Tendentiousness is no such beast, and as I continue to say I do not see how you have done any improvement here. The best you've done is to show the impotence of Wiki's policies in stopping this exercise. Pedantic wrangling IS tendentious and only causes frustration. LoveMonkey (talk) 12:42, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
I tried to guess which philosophical problems were refeered to in the sentence "Taleb put a psychological, mathematical, and (mostly) practical framework around the philosophical problems in a long lineage of skeptical philosophers", and gave some ideas: some problems concerning philosophy of science or perhaps problem of induction. My point is that the sentence can be rewritten to more clearly say that it is the problem of induction which are meant here (if that is what really is meant?). My section point was that the sentence "in believing that we know much less than we think we do, and that the past should not be used naively to predict the future" was rather vague. I do not think an overview has to be vague - for example you seem to agree that we can substitute "problem of induction" for "philosophical problems" - which would make the sentence much clearer. Ulner (talk) 13:34, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
Looking at the first two sentences in the problem of induction article, I think this problem is rather clear. Ulner (talk) 13:45, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
Ulner, if you look at Taleb's notes, you'll see that he's been researching the skeptics mentioned above for some time, so mentioning names like Sextus Empiricus, Al-Ghazali explicitly makes sense. When LoveMonkey suggests reading Taleb's works before making editions, that makes sense also; otherwise you'll risk making this page your personal interpretation of Taleb's work. MCarr (talk) 16:13, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
Exactly. Taleb's estate has already contacted Wiki to complain about this exact thing. Now of course Ulner is still here and nothing to him appears to be being done..LoveMonkey (talk) 16:36, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
I agree MCarr about your statement about risk of personal interpretation - I am trying to read all his works but there are a substantial number of books&articles to read. Perhaps my discussion here was a bit premature. By the notes I guess you mean [22]? Anyhow, I still think "philosophical problems in a long lineage of skeptical philosophers" is a bit vague, and perhaps people who have read more about Taleb know what is meant here? Ulner (talk) 16:33, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
I can not speak to what ulner is trying only what he is doing. He is editing a living persons bio and not only openly admits he is not completely informed but also keeps making terrible mistakes. So much so that the Taleb estate had a representitive contact wikipedia. But these points repeated ab nausea, Ulner does not seem to understand. He just removed entire sections from the bio that he stated he did not understand. Even though they were sourced and seems to be in proper English to me.LoveMonkey (talk) 16:40, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
I think it is possible (and acceptable) for editors to contribute to articles about living persons, without reading all their works first - and I do not think I am making terrible mistakes. I tried to make the article clearer removing a vague statement - if people think that statement should be included it is possible to put it back - and no harm is has been done! Ulner (talk) 16:57, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
I bet IbnAmioun would disagree.LoveMonkey (talk) 17:06, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

But do you all really believe that the sentence "Taleb put a psychological, mathematical, and (mostly) practical framework around the philosophical problems in a long lineage of skeptical philosophers" is crystal clear? I do not. Furthermore, do you want to put back the (in my opinion very unclear) sentence "Taleb's empiricism means the opposite of what is usually interpreted" which I removed yesterday from "skeptical empiricist" point 2? I actually get a bit sad that my efforts to improve the article is met with such hard criticism. Isn't it good that there is some activity here on the talk page - even if we do not agree on all points? Ulner (talk) 19:45, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

Let's distinguish between two kinds of clarity.
A regular reader that reads the sentence, gets the point. That Taleb is about that we know less than we do. Predicting the future is a second element. Like that we do not know now, we are also lacking knowledge about the future (whihc is more directly related to the problem of induciton).
Ulner, I belive you prefer definitions that are more similar to academic texts. Whwere every terms is formally defined before hand and technically handled.
I think our sentence here is written in simple language, and is quite clear in terms of common sense.
The idea is that Talbe is about our lack of knowledge. And this is quite clear in the sentence. Yechezkel Zilber (talk) 11:23, 30 July 2009 (UTC)

Details about anti-Platonism subsection

It would be really nice with some reference for this sentence:

Consistent with his anti-Platonism, Taleb doesn't like to see his ideas called "theories". As he stands against general theories and top-down concepts, he never mentions theory in conjunction with the Black Swan. The phrase "Black Swan theory" is, to him, a contradiction in terms, and he urges his readers not to "Platonify" the Black Swan. Rather, Taleb would call his Black-Swan idea an "anti-theory" or the "Black Swan conjecture".

Especially, Taleb would call his Black-Swan idea an "anti-theory"? Does he say that sometime or is that just a guess? Ulner (talk) 21:19, 28 July 2009 (UTC)

Moved from talk page of Lovemonkey

Regarding your recent reply to me on the Taleb talk page: "The best you've done is to show the impotence of Wiki's policies in stopping this exercise. Pedantic wrangling IS tendentious and only causes frustration" I would really like to continue discussing the Taleb article and how it should be written - arguments for and against certain formulations etc, and ask you to comment on content, not on the contributor. You seem to have great knowledge about Taleb's work and I hope we can reach some consensus about how the article should be written. Best regards Ulner (talk) 13:40, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

Dear lord this belongs on the Taleb talkpage.LoveMonkey (talk) 14:08, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
See WP:NPA: "If you feel that a response is necessary and desirable, you should leave a polite message on the other user's talk page." Best regards Ulner (talk) 14:10, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

What did I post that is a personal attack Ulner? I mean you signed off on something as disgusting as called Taleb a stupid Arab. I have been very specific in my critism of you none of it is about your person only your contributions and as such is not a personal attack. You are now again misusing policy in order to frustrate people. You are engaging in Wikipedia:Tendentious editing. You've left the note now please refer back to Taleb's talkpage. LoveMonkey (talk) 14:25, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

I moved the discussion above from the talk page of LoveMonkey here. I do not understand this sentence at all: "I mean you signed off on something as disgusting as called Taleb a stupid Arab."? Your statement "The best you've done is to show the impotence of Wiki's policies in stopping this exercise. Pedantic wrangling IS tendentious and only causes frustration." is in my opinion a personal attack directed at me. I ask you kindly to comment on content, not the contributor. Lovemonkey, I would prefer to have this discussion at some personal talk page (your or mine). Ulner (talk) 14:50, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

There you go again not understanding. ANI on this was quite clear and you seem to like to have people have to tell you repeatedly. So in good faith I will go find the entire ANI and repost it here.LoveMonkey (talk) 16:37, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

Please do not because this should be a talk page discussing the article - please instead tell me what I am not understanding on my user page. Ulner (talk) 16:39, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

You are effecting this person and this article. It is appropriate that it be discussed here. LoveMonkey (talk) 16:43, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

We can continue the discussion here if you want to - it is okay for me, but copying the entire ANI request here would make the discussion about the content of this article hard to find. I do not see how my edits can effect this person, and I do not think my edits are in violation if BLP or NPOV. Ulner (talk) 16:50, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

So what IbnAmioun said just poof went right out of existence. IbnAmioun has not accused you of poor editing and wikistalking. IbnAmioun as a rep for the Taleb estate has not stated that he contacted Wiki over you specifically.LoveMonkey (talk) 17:02, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

I do not agree with your statement: "ANI on this was quite clear and you seem to like to have people have to tell you repeatedly.". If you think my edits to the article or to this discussion page are inappropriate or in violation of Wikipedia policy, I suggest that you use the different alternatives at [[23]]. I kindly ask you to avoid sentences like "The best you've done is to show the impotence of Wiki's policies in stopping this exercise". Ulner (talk) 17:16, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
Let me post the ANI and we'll see of what I posted that caused the Taleb estate to contact Wiki isn't clear. You accusing me doesn't mean that the Taleb estate stops accusing you. And they are not the only one accusing you. You however are the only one accusing me. I have not edited on this article in quite sometime. You like to project. You completely refuse to take responsiblity for what people keep telling you. I am only one in a line of people who have noted this to you. You are your own determiner I do not have control over your editing. LoveMonkey (talk) 18:08, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
Yes, some user posted some information on the ANI that the Taleb estate are going to contact Wiki - they are free to do so. Yes, I have said that I interpreted your statement as a personal attack and asked you kindly not to post such statements again (if that is what you refer to as "You accusing me" "You however are the only one accusing me"). Ulner (talk) 18:54, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
LoveMonkey, when reading sentences like "The best you've done is to show the impotence of Wiki's policies in stopping this exercise." it is not fun working on this article anymore. I have decided to stop editing the Taleb article as well as its talk page for one year. My time here on English Wikipedia is better spent editing other articles. I hope other editors which share my concerns will continue the debate here at the talk page. Best regards Ulner (talk) 11:13, 30 July 2009 (UTC)

Editing Taleb's ideas

Not to name names, but there have been several people (and not just one) who seem to be involved in intentionally editing NNT's page and his ideas, and putting the article in a negative light (to say the least). Taleb's ideas are complicated, his opinions nuanced; only having a vague picture from some news stories, excerpts from texts and using that as a basis for extensive editing does not seem to improve the article at all, even from the perspective of those who disagree with him.

In my opinion, even reading most of Taleb's texts and his notebook and being somewhat aware of intellectual tradition he comes from, may not be enough to appreciate and understand his viewpoint. I think at least those who appreciate his work would agree that his ideas (though not trivial details about him) cannot be compared to other living persons in this regard. A tangential idea, along with some limited citations do not warrant large scale editing.

To put it in other words, I think people who also disagree with him but want to edit large sections, should have a decent idea of what he stands for. Editing and changing the tone/angle/perception of the article without knowing what one is talking about should not be tolerated.

I may sound like a NNT-elitist to some, but I do not know of any better way to put it.

Suranah (talk) 05:49, 2 August 2009 (UTC)