Nassim Nicholas Taleb in 10 Great Quotes

Nassim Nicholas Taleb is a Lebanese born American essayist, financial writer, and statistician.  His work focuses on nonlinear phenomena in society and markets.  Taleb distinguishes between “fragile” systems, which are eroded and undermined by stress and “antifragile” systems, which become stronger as a result of stress.

1. “Writers are remembered for their best work, politicians for their worst mistakes, and businessmen are almost never remembered.”

2. “The main difference between government bailouts and smoking is that in some rare cases the statement ‘this is my last cigarette’ holds true.”

3. “Nation-states like war; city-states like commerce; families like stability; and individuals like entertainment.”

4. “The nation-state: apartheid without political incorrectness.”

5.  “I find it inconsistent (and corrupt) to dislike big government while favoring big business—but (alas) not the reverse.”

6. “For Seneca, the Stoic sage should withdraw from public efforts when unheeded and the state is corrupt beyond repair. It is wiser to wait for self-destruction.”

7. “In politics we face the choice between warmongering, nation-state-loving, big-business agents on one hand; and risk-blind, top-down, epistemic arrogant big servants of large employers on the other. But we have a choice.”

8. “The role of the media is best seen in the journey from Cato the Elder to a modern politician. Do some extrapolation if you want to be scared.”

9. “The best test of whether someone is extremely stupid (or extremely wise) is whether financial and political news makes sense to him.”

10. “Never listen to a leftist who does not give away his fortune or does not live the exact lifestyle he wants others to follow.”