Book Review, Posts

Skin in the Game – Nassim Taleb

Couverture de Skin in the Game

  • Title: Skin in the Game – Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life
  • Author: Nassim N. Taleb
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Recommendation Score: 5 / 5

Nassim Taleb is a non-conventional thinker. He is a mathematician and cares a lot about rigor and logic. He is a philosopher and cares about the consequences of theory on people’s life. This is reflected in his writings when theory (science) and practice (real life) are intertwined.

“Skin in the Game” is the 5th book in Nassim Taleb’s Incerto series. It deals with asymmetries in daily life (decision-making, risk management, politics, religion, etc.). This post summarizes some of the ideas of the book.

Ethics and Competence

In the introduction, the author focuses on the idea that one cannot disentangle ethics and competence when dealing with human beings. What does it mean that you trust a professional? Do you trust their knowledge and skills? Or their ethics and moral values? Or both?

Some people have skin in the game, such as citizens, merchants, businessmen, entrepreneurs, artisans, etc. Others have no skin in the game such as bureaucrats, administrators, policy wonks, consultants, etc.

No-skin-in-the-game people keep the upside and transfer the downside to others. Skin-in-the-game people, on the other hand, take their own risk and keep their own downside.

Avoid taking advice from someone who gives advice for a living, unless there is a penalty for their advice.

The golden rule vs the silver rule

The golden rule is: Treat others the way you would like them to treat you. The author argues that the following silver rule is more robust: Do not treat others the way you would not like them to treat you.

The Hammurabi code of laws and “skin in the game”

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Personal Development, Posts

When Can We Trust an Expert’s Intuition?

I recently read the book “Blink, the power of thinking without thinking“, by Malcolm Gladwell. A book about the magic of experts’ intuition. The book left me with big questions on expertise and intuition, so I had to dig deeper. I am convinced that experts’ intuition is not always reliable, what I found is that it depends on the domain of expertise and the expert’s experience in the domain.

In this post I summarize 2 approaches to intuition:

  • Naturalistic Decision-Making (NDM)
  • Heuristics and Biases (HB)

The confrontation of these 2 approaches results in 3 conditions for reliable intuition, abbreviated as REF:

  • Regularity
  • Exposure
  • Feedback

For starters, we define intuition as the ability to detect a pattern and solve problems rapidly, without relying on conscious reasoning.

Reasoning versus Intuition directional signs

Two Approaches to Intuitive Expertise: NDM vs. HB

The first approach to intuitive expertise is naturalistic decision-making (NDM). It is focused on the decisions made in real life by experienced people such as firefighting commanders, nurses, chess-masters, etc. NDM aims at demystifying the intuition by searching for the cues that led to the expert judgment.

Continue reading “When Can We Trust an Expert’s Intuition?”