Sunday, August 30, 2009


Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan, felt misrepresented by the press, so he wrote a letter.

Here's the portion of that latter in which he responds to a reporter from The Guardian possibly insinuating that he could maybe possibly be a "climate-change denier:"

I am hyper-conservative ecologically (meaning super-Green). My position on the climate is to avoid releasing pollutants in the atmosphere, on the basis of ignorance, regardless of current expert opinion (climate experts, like banking risk managers, have failed us in the past in foreseeing long term damages and I cannot accept certainty in a certain class of nonlinear models). This is an extension of my general idea that one does not need rationalization with the use of complicated models (by fallible experts) to the edict: "do not disturb a complex system" since we do not know the consequences of our actions owing to complicated causal webs. (Incidentally, this ideas also makes me anti-war). I explicitly explained the need to "leave the planet the way we got it" .

Instead, I was presented as a "climate-change denier" (Lucy Mangan), and my environmental views summarized by "Climate change is not man-made" (Nicholas Watts).

A minimum of homework on the part of your staff would have revealed that I am one of the authors of the recent King of Sweden's Bonham declaration on attitude to climate change.

Hyper-conservative ecologically. Never heard that before. And I kinda like it. A fancy way of saying careful.

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