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Yet more wisdom from Taleb

3/Feb/2013

Working furiously on side projects and my tax return. This of course also means engaging with what Steven Pressfield calls Resistance. For me today, resistance means browsing, reading about nootropics (remember I’m trying to do my taxes) and of course checking facebook in a desperate quest to find something to take me away from my work. Happily, Nassim Taleb has allowed me at least a few moments respite from doing anything productive. Taleb’s latest facebook post is so spot on that I forgive him for unleashing his outlandish nastiness on poor Steven Pinker:

In the past journalism was an act of courage, revealing truths in the face of powerful establishments and risking jail or even death. Today (except in such repressive regimes such as Syria or Russia and except for war correspondents) it is becoming the refuge of disconnected cowards.
In my entire career I have never seen a financial journalist go to “the other side”, that is pull the trigger or engage in risk taking or in any situation in which one can be exposed to harm from one’s opinion. This can be generalized to journalists in general, who rarely, if ever, switch to doing, all the while pontificating on “Steve Job’s mistakes” or similar purported errors of others, or praising Geithner and other powerful frauds. Jazi Zilber wondered why journalists seemingly so knowledgeable about politics never become politicians. It is the same problem: modern journalists are designed to be either cowards, or have a need to escape reality.
Yet the tragedy is that doers are in contact with the world through journalists.
(SKIN IN THE GAME (BOOK VII), comment)

I am a stout believer that we must tear down the old media, salt the earth and rebuild it with a decentralized system of bloggers, podcasts and freelance writing. Media companies, with their necessary evil of editing and style standards, might then compete for talent and hopefully be held to some standard of honesty through the churn of bankruptcy proceedings.

Much of Taleb’s freshness comes from bring the best aspects of the Mediterranean and Dhimmi weltanschaungen to the comparatively bland lands to the North. However, sometimes he forgets to at least pretend to be reasonable, and treat honest brokers like Pinker as people with feelings.

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