It’s not every day that I’m accused of “incompetent journalism in its most insidious form” by a (more) famous author*.
I’m still not sure why he included the FT.
Firstly he says he is not a climate change denier (I never said he was).
I wrote instead that he “suggested that climate change was not necessarily man-made.”
This was his precise quote: “I don’t want to mess with Mother Nature..I don’t believe that carbon thing is necessarily anthropogenic (man-made)”.
Is there any difference?
Secondly he argues that he has been misquoted to say he loves crashes.
“Another statement made backwards concerns my position on ‘robustness’. I said that free markets generate fads, crashes, massive movements. Attempts to control the cycle proved futile – what we need is citizens to become ROBUST to them, to be immune to their impact. My point is that we cannot predict Black Swans, but we KNOW their impact and can be prepared for them. Again taken backwards: “Taleb loves crashes.”"
Except Taleb also said, verbatim: “I like crashes. I just like the world to be robust about them.”
Paul Waugh is another journalist to have recorded the quotes, with a dictaphone I should add.
Incidentally, Taleb did make one interesting point about the crucial role of debt in crashes. The collapse of the dot-com boom did not have major repercussions on the global economy because it involved people betting primarily with equity (ie buying shares in tech companies), he argued. The latest crash was gruesome because of the huge amount of leverage in the system. Absolutely right.
Channel 4 have deployed a broadcaster to question Taleb.
My favourite question: “Do you find because your ideas are complicated they are easily mis-represented?”
Another Taleb spat on FT Alphaville today
In case you’re wondering what lessons Taleb could hold for politicians, here is one attempt to answer the question on Huffington Post