People would be better of trusting experts like dentists and plumbers, and even rickshaw-pullers rather than economists or bureaucrats, whose incompetence has led to problems for millions of people and sparked backlashes like Brexit, Arab-American risk analyst-turned-scholar of uncertain random happenings Nassim Nicholas Taleb said on Thursday.
People are fed up with “serial incompetence” and in a worldwide rebellion against the “expert problem”, Taleb said at a session titled “Of Black Swans and Intellectual Fallacies” at the opening day of the 10th edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival.
Taleb, whose best-selling books like “Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets”, “The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable”, “The Bed of Procrustes” and “Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder” stress on the human tendency to ignore the role of uncertainty and improbability, to assign all things into pre-decided categories due to the limit of knowledge, said he first saw signs of the “rebellion against experts” in India too.
He also expressed support for Brexit, or Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, as a “wise reaction” to the over-centralised bureaucracy at EU’s headquarters in Brussels, quipping that “bureaucrats there try to manage how many times your windscreen wiper moves up and down in a minute, yet they can’t even control borders”.
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Elaborating on his theme, he said such “experts” fail since they do not have “skin in the game” or a stake in success of their policies, citing the case of a former US Treasury Secretary. who advised Citigroup and received a hefty bonus but was not called to return it after the lender collapsed.
Taleb, who has called for the Nobel Prize in Economics to be scrapped, attacked prominent economists like Larry Summers, Paul Krugman, Joseph Stigtliz, saying people think they are intelligent but they are not and “cause more crises than they solve”.
He also repeated his criticism of the World Economic Forum at Switzerland’s Davos.
“I was invited once and I made sure they never invited me again. I called them the International Association of Namedroppers. They think it’s their mission to solve a problem they don’t understand. They use buzzwords and destroy language. If someone is opposed to them, they’re ‘populistx’,” he said.