I discovered Taleb in 2017 through a friend that read his book. “You have to read this guy, you will get along”. I was pleasantly surprised that there was a person that had similar views on some topics as I did. In particular IQ, social pseudosciences, being frank and direct, risk management and even how religion should be perceived.
Those who know me since 2010 have seen these views roll out throughout the years. I was never able to explain these topics through mathematical rigor but I could see through the bullshit of the system, partly because life made me a “Fat Tony” aka a hustler. I have been an atheist for decades. Taleb is religious yet I agree how he sees religion.
I started engaging with Taleb on twitter in 2018 but I noticed he had a very sensitive alarm about race realism. More or less, he doesn’t accept any conversation, comment or even attitude towards the proposition that other humans races might exist. So I got blocked. I wasn’t the only one getting blocked about this. Many suffered the same. Others were blocked for simply contradicting him or asking the wrong question at the wrong time. So it wasn’t the race thing. He seemed very easily disturbed for just about everything. This is why hundreds (perhaps thousands) have been “talebanned”.
There is a difference in judging a person as a whole and judging them for their ideas. I still agree with some of the points Taleb puts forward since I had these ideas from before. I also agree with many things Jesus and Hitler said although I am neither a christian or a nazi.
Yet, I am sceptical about Taleb’s ethos. In a recent tweet, he called Elon Musk’s response to the corovona virus as “dumb” avoiding to block him or call him an idiot directly (like he usually does). Taleb knows as a risk strategist that this could cause him problems. He owns after all a Tesla. He is exposed. This clearly demonstrates that he chooses who to ban selectively or better, strategically. He would never attack someone with greater status than him, be it Donald Trump or Elon Musk. He is playing through the 48 Laws of Power Book. “Never piss the wrong people”. Now this is not what normally Taleb would advice.
Another factor that might be contributing to his increased ban tendencies is fame. When one becomes famous enough, they can easily close themselves in a social media safe space, avoiding any constructive criticism on subjects. The fans become a constant cash flow and they cannot be convinced otherwise from external factors.
Taleb’s reasoning about some things is clearly conflicting
Take for example, Taleb’s stance about race. From one hand, he is very outspoken about the dangers of GMOs and how they can wreck havoc in a complex system. GMOs as the name implies, are genetically manipulated strands of DNA that small changes can cause massive changes into a complex system such as the environment (or our body).
The human race is hundreds of thousands of years old and there are tiny differences between human subspecies (or races). They range from brain differences, bone structure, intelligence, disease tolerance you name it. Yet, he refuses to acknowledge that these small differences can ripple massive changes in humans, more so when they are expressed in closed environments for hundreds of thousands of years. This is something I guarantee you Taleb won’t be able to get away with. He is not challenged on this subject because most people are afraid of being labeled as racist or getting banned from Taleb himself. You simply can't even put forward this argument in this time and age in social media.
There is also another aspect which is quite obvious from the way he handles culture and populations. He is a bit shameful of his geographical origins and tries to include the Middle East into the Renaissance and Enlightenment paradigm. He takes great offence in being called an Arab and makes sure to somehow separate populations of Saudi Arabia from his Phoenician ancestry. Which I agree by the way, there are great differences. So many differences that given enough time they can develop as racial or as we call it in biology, subspecies. Something he clearly disagrees with. So, he tries to explain his ancestry through some kind of intellectual variation yet trying to also reason that we are all the same.
Taleb is clearly conflicted in these matters and so he is extremely triggered when one tries to reason with him with a different narrative. And so he bans.
To be completely honest I ban people as well. I welcome personal attacks as well as long as the conversation evolves in a manner that explains a reasoning. Thing is, most of these people just want to post a personal attack without being able to follow through. It’s a personal attack for the sake of personal attack. They just want to defame and put the suspicion out there. They don’t have good arguments. It’s just venting, anger. Their purpose is not to constructively judge and even being able to engage in conversation to change their minds. I never banned anyone who was engaging in a constructive manner, even if they ended up attacking me.
I seek no such thing with Taleb. I want to call his hypocrisy off so that in hope he can take the constructive criticism and reflect on it (somehow). But, I find it extremely doubtful that he does such a thing because of his stubborn nature.