Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

Skin in the Game

SPOTLIGHT: Having nothing at stake, personally, is a recipe for making things worse.

BIG PICTURE: People puzzle me. I don’t understand the disconnect between opinions and the consequences of those opinions.

I know pleasant, smart, educated, mature individuals who assertively proclaim themselves socialists. Millions were persecuted by Stalin. Millions more perished under Mao. Modern day Venezuela is a nightmare. Amnesty International has been shut out of Cuba since 1990. Still, it’s hooray socialism. Emotionally attached to an idea, we apparently have no interest in how that idea actually performs in the real world.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Skin in the Game sheds light on this puzzle. “If you manage to convince yourself that you are right in theory,” he says, “you don’t really care how your ideas affect others. Your ideas give you a virtuous status that makes you impervious…”

Self-image. Self-regard. Moral narcissism.

Taleb says an increasing portion of our everyday lives is shaped by “immune decision makers” – bureaucrats, academics, journalists, and others who are “delusional…simply because they never have to pay for the consequences of their actions.” Rather than being planted firmly on the ground, these feet aren’t even in contact. Everything’s abstract, everything’s theoretical.

TOP TAKEAWAY: Minds have difficulty focusing when there’s no downside to getting it wrong.


Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life
Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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This entry was posted on April 30, 2018 by in ethical & philosophical, quotations and tagged .
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