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David Ryan

David Ryan is a boat builder and USCG licensed master captain. He is the owner of Sailing Montauk and skipper of Montauk''s charter sailing catamaran MON TIKI You can follow him on Twitter @CaptDavidRyan

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  1. Avatar James Hanley
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    says:

    I read Taleb’s The Black Swan and was tremendously underwhelmed. Taleb’s a big idea guy–find that one big idea and apply it to everything. The deeper I got into the book the more he reminded me of a classic kook. I was waiting for him to start talking about phlogiston or Z-rays.Report

    • Avatar David Ryan in reply to James Hanley
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      says:

      Have not read Black Swan.

      Did read Fooled by Randomness, back in 2001, and was very impressed. YMMV.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to David Ryan
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        says:

        Didn’t read “Fooled,” but I’ll say that Taleb has a good point about the importance of randomness. But then he tries to argue we should focus only on randomness and quit looking at regularities/patterns. He ultimately wants randomness to explain everything, which obviously it can’t. He even gives us his path to physical fitness, which essentially involves long walks, and occasional (random) wild runs until one is exhausted. He doesn’t just say that it works for him–he says it’s essentially the only, or at least the best, way, a claim that’s apparently based on no more evidence than that it seems to have worked for him. There’s a monomania there that I ultimately just can’t respect.Report

        • Avatar Chris in reply to James Hanley
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          says:

          When I was in grad school, one of the professors in my department was an ex-physicist (I guess one is never an ex-physicist — he was a physicist who decided he wanted to study psychology) who was completely uninspired by the way psychologists did research (in particular, the way they modeled human behavior mathematically, which is to say, the way they used ANOVA and maybe OLS or logistic regression). His whole schtick was that psychologists ignored the noise in favor of the signal, and thereby missed most of human behavior (he was saying this way back in the mid-90s, well before I got there, and well before 2001). It made everyone in the department, at least, start to look at the noise, and for that reason, it was valuable. But as an actual theory of human psychology, it was pretty shitty, though it made for some really interesting area brown bag talks. Noise is important, but signals are called signals for a reason.

          One positive side effect of his obsession was that, while most psychologists couldn’t explain to you the difference between brown, white, and pink noise, anyone who’s been in that department sure as hell can.Report

        • Avatar Christopher Carr in reply to James Hanley
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          says:

          I like Taleb a lot (I feel we’ve hashed this out before, but I forget how far we got). Anyways, I think the criticism that he wants us to focus on randomness is a little off. I think mostly what he does in Black Swan is offer another model to evaluate risk that hedges against randomness in ways superior to the existing models.A bit underwhelming, perhaps, which might explain some of the hype and flair surrounding an otherwise boring statistics book.Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to David Ryan
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        says:

        I read them both and agree with both of you.

        Interesting idea and examples in a fun free spirited style that he applies “mono maniacally”

        By the way, I can’t see the Taleb attachment video? On my iPad. I just see a big white space.Report

  2. Avatar Burt Likko
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    says:

    Risk and complexity are bad things? You give me N.N. Taleb and his Black Swans, I give you in exchange David Christian and Big History. Chaos is destructive, yes, but it also is a catalyst to opportunity, growth, and creativity. Little that is good is originated in a manner free from trauma.Report

  3. Avatar Christopher Carr
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    says:

    Interesting that you’re a morning writer, by the way. I’m a late, late night writer. I hit my productivity peaks around three in the morning. This made writing from Japan more or less ideal for me. But, for the most part the pieces I respond to are from months or weeks ago anyways, so I suppose not being an effective day writer doesn’t hurt me that much.

    The thing is, I like to do stuff during the day: if the sun is shining I want to be outside if I’m free.Report

    • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Christopher Carr
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      says:

      Heh, CC—As a West Coaster and night person to boot, I’d toyed with a “Late Shift” area of LoOG, where all our piths & brilliancies aren’t buried by the torrent of eager early risers who bury all & sundry in their tsunamic path.

      Figgered there was no way to make it a technological reality. The early birds always eat us worms. Such is life.

      Take it up with mgmt, perhaps. I’ll be asleep come Thursday’s confab.Report

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