Taleb and the language of risk

Last night, I read about Nicholas Nassim Taleb on English Language and Usage StackExchange (EL&U). Professor Taleb wants to introduce a new word to the vocabulary of global financial collapse, antifragility:

So let us coin the appellation “antifragile” for anything that, on average, (i.e. in expectation) benefits from variability.

Consensus on EL&U was that this was a creative but unnecessary neologism. I echo the concerns of my EL&U comrades: Antifragility might cause confusion (maybe it is “anti-fragility”). There are many adequate, extant words that Taleb could use, however, antifragility is a term that will be uniquely associated with him.

I am not convinced that there are many entities that actually thrive due to uncertainty. A delta hedge that is long volatility is the only construct that I can think of off-hand. Perhaps that was what Taleb had in mind.

The original Black Swan

book cover of black swan with navy background

The Black Swan by Thomas Mann; 1954 UK First Edition

There was a slightly less contemporary black swan, the novella written by Nobel-prize winner Thomas Mann toward the end of his long and distinguished literary career.

The plot of that short fiction work also pertained to an anomalous event, one that could be considered a statistical outlier. (more…)

Published in: on February 1, 2012 at 6:28 am  Comments (8)  
Tags: , , , , , ,

Where are some good places to try when Quora does not have the answer?

  • Aardvark, now owned by Google, is effectively a two-step search process. The first part is done with machine matching, followed by human synthesis and information delivery
  • Ask a reference librarian* or submit an online query, to any large county library, university library or specialty library. Specialty libraries include the regional U.S. Patent Libraries. Other examples are endowed libraries such as those funded by The Annenberg Foundation or The Chemical Heritage Foundation.
  • Ask the Newsvine online community, an MSNBC News property
  • StackOverflow, a programming Question and Answer site which has evolved into an online community with experience and credibility indicators. There are a total of 46 active, topic-specific Question and Answer “stacks” in the Stack Exchange family of sites
  • Ask Pew Research. They have an ongoing “Ask the Expert” series where questions are accepted and then published on site, as a free service. Topics are specific to the seven Pew research projects:
    • People & the Press
    • Excellence in Journalism
    • Internet & American Life
    • Religion & Public Life
    • Hispanic Center
    • Global Attitudes
    • Social & Demographic Trends
  • The Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) and Microsoft Technet forums are vast and encourage information technology, software development and data security related Question and Answer activity
  • Many forums for Questions and Answers are available within the IBM Social Computing sites
  • The Center for Responsive Politics is non-partisan, and answers questions. They are similar to Pew Research, though more narrow in scope

*A reference librarian’s primary duty is to answer questions, with source citations for context or historical background.

From my answer on Quora.com web site.

Published in: on March 22, 2011 at 11:50 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: , ,