Archive for Malcolm Gladwell

Goliathian Priors

Posted in Revolution with tags , , , , , , , , on June 22, 2014 by Rob Wallace

Ghana GermanyEven on fútbol Nate Silver panders to power, predicting the winners will win. He’s the statistical Malcolm Gladwell, the latter, despite his new book, already on record disparaging successful underdogs as metaphysically unfair.

As if contingencies and sudden regime shifts, to reference Slavoj Žižek‘s Hegel, aren’t themselves universal necessities (well beyond the power of Silver’s Bayesian).

And to which the revolutionary toasts the Ghanas and Costa Ricas a beer or three, minding Alain Badiou’s Paris Commune, wherein the truth upon the world’s contested pitches changes the very predicates of circumstance.

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The Red Swan

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza, Revolution with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 28, 2013 by Rob Wallace

Cover RG Wallace 'Red Swan' Full Version PDFThe following is an excerpt from our first e-single, available here as a PDF. Consider the single, on the political economy of Nassim Taleb of ‘Black Swan’ fame, a freebie. We do ask that those who can afford it consider donating to Farming Pathogens. Your help is greatly appreciated. The full version adds explorations of Taleb’s animosity towards science, his anti-theoretical theory of history, his assumptions about human nature, and, for good and for ill, applications of Black Swan thinking to disease modeling.

Perhaps by chance alone Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s best-selling The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, followed now by the just released Antifragile, captures the zeitgeist of 9/11 and the foreclosure collapse: If something of a paradox, bad things unexpectedly happen routinely.

For better and for worse, Black Swan caustically critiques academic economics, which serve, more I must admit in my view than Taleb’s, as capitalist rationalization rather than as a science of discovery.

Taleb crushes mainstream quantitative finance, but fails as spectacularly on a number of accounts. To the powerful’s advantage, at one and the same time he mathematicizes Francis Fukuyama’s end of history and claims epistemological impossibilities where others, who have been systemically marginalized, predicted precisely to radio silence.

Power, after all, is the capacity to avoid addressing a counternarrative. Continue reading