Wednesday, August 29, 2007

It's lonely being a skeptical empiricist

They like to play the lottery at my work, because we hate it here so much. Almost everyone puts in $2 or $5. The jackpot is currently ~$250 million but today I thought of The Black Swan (great, go read it & his first book) & didn't waste my meager lunch money. It's so seductive though. I can't help thinking how much I could use $10 million & how wonderful it'd be if I won, despite knowing perfectly well that I have 30 times more chance of being struck by lightning than winning. Of course, Taleb's discussion is of the black swans that do happen, but this is the flip side of people's wishful belief that crazy stuff won't occur. I liked the idea he champions of being a skeptical empiricist - it's just hard to fight human nature, which wants to find patterns & reasons in random things. Anyway, I hope as a nice person that my colleagues win, but I also hope like hell that they don't because I'll feel like the biggest fool.

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