WHY NOT TO ENGAGE IN STANDARD DEBATES/FOLLOW NEWS

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

This graph shows the relative role of independent factors in a system, with among, say 30 identifiable factors, 97% of the variations can be attributed to the first 2 factors (a system with “fat tails” will be even more concentrated with 99.999% coming from one single factor). The remaining 28 factors are chickens**t. The graph presents a statistical view of the “less is more” argument, and why one should not follow the news for, in a given month, “low loads” represent 99.99% of the conversation and .01% of the contribution.

If you are right on factor 1 (& possibly 2), the rest is irrelevant. But the problem is that those trained in debate will drag you into factors 3 through 99, just to distract from the core issue.

I have decided to avoid Cambridge and Oxford Union debates, those discussion with people trained in argument by debating societies. The Oxbridge system of “covering all sides of an issue” drives you to the irrelevant and drowns your Factor 1 argument. If you do things right you should have “only one argument”, which clashes with this culture.

(This graph also explains in statistical terms the “lady complains too much”, or why a “balanced” view presenting drawbacks is everything but balanced.)

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