Episode 11

Published on:

9th Feb 2021

Nassim N. Taleb: Everything these idiots, frauds, and assholes don't understand

Nassim Taleb, what a mensch. He's got the confidence of a bull in a china shop that has just bought a lycra muscle-shirt and knows it looks great on him.

Our guru this week has surveyed the fields of statistics, economics, psychology, actually all of the social sciences, and finds them populated by a gaggle of pale, thin wristed, pocket-protector wearing wimps. Although, he's equally scathing towards COVID-sceptical libertarians, and Matt and Chris (in a totally unbiased manner) find him pretty funny and accurate there.

More seriously, Taleb is a smart guy and quite fun to read and listen to. But he's also an infinite singularity of arrogance and hyperbole. Matt and Chris can't help but notice how convenient this pose is, when confronted with difficult-to-handle rebuttals.

Taleb is a fun mixed bag of solid and dubious claims. But it's worth thinking about the degree to which those solid ideas were already well... solid. Many seem to have been known for decades even by all the 'morons, frauds and assholes' that Taleb hates.

To what degree does Taleb's reputation rest on hyperbole and intuitive-sounding hot-takes? Will he ever un-block the co-hosts on twitter? Should Matt, a statistician and psychologist, re-train in a field where he can actually contribute something useful to the world?

All of these questions, and more, will remain unanswered in this fresh new DTG episode!


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About the Podcast

Decoding the Gurus
A psychologist and an anthropologist try to make sense of the world's greatest self-declared Gurus.
An exiled Northern Irish anthropologist and a hitchhiking Australian psychologist take a close look at the contemporary crop of 'secular gurus', iconoclasts, and other exiles from the mainstream, offering their own brands of unique takes and special insights.

Leveraging two of the most diverse accents in modern podcasting, Chris and Matt dig deep into the claims, peek behind the psychological curtains, and try to figure out once and for all... What's it all About?

Join us, as we try to puzzle our way through and talk some smart-sounding smack about the intellectual giants of our age, from Jordan Peterson to Robin DiAngelo. Are they revolutionary thinkers or just grifters with delusions of grandeur?

Join us and let's find out!
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About your hosts

Christopher Kavanagh

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A Northern Irish cognitive anthropologist who occasionally moonlights as a social psychologist. Chris has long standing interests in the psychology of conspiracy theorists and pseudoscience. His academic research focuses on the Cognitive Science of Religion and ritual psychology. He lives happily in Japan with his family.

Matthew Browne

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An Australian psychologist and numbers-guy. He does research on all kinds of stuff, but particularly enjoys looking into why people believe the things they do: religion, conspiracy theories, alternative medicine and stuff. He's into social media in the same way people slow down for car accidents.