Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The antifragility of Game

I've been reading Nassim Taleb's book Antifragile and I would find it difficult to recommend it more highly. His definition of the antifragility concept provides a general intellectual foundation for many ideas that I, and others, have been advocating for some time, and more than that, it provides a strong rational explanation for why those ideas reliably work.  In this respect, antifragility is rather like Game, in that it simply articulates something that many individuals already know and are already utilizing in their daily lives.

But antifragility not only resembles Game, it describes Game, and to a certain extent, it even explains why Game is so effective.  Taleb describes an antifragile strategy as one that maximizes optionality and accepts a low level of maximal risk for a high level of potential upside.  What is that if not spinning plates combined with the pickup imperative and an abundance mentality?

And the intrinsic fragility of the BETA courtship strategy should be obvious, as it involves a high level of commitment in both time and resources, eliminates optionality, and accepts a high level of maximal risk given the probability that all of the BETA's oneitis and pedestalization will go for naught as the target of his homage instead responds to the minimal investment of a more sexually desirable ALPHA.

I haven't finished the book yet, so I won't say too much more about it other than anyone who is interested in Game will almost certainly be interested in Antifragile as well, and indeed, will better understand what Game is and why it works as a result of reading it.


Bernard Brandt said...

What an odd and remarkable co-incidence: I, too, have been reading Antifragile, in part because I saw it on your reading list, and in larger part because I have also read Black Swan and Fooled by Randomness, and have both enjoyed and profited from Taleb's other works.

Perhaps one commonality between Antifragility and Game is that it is a sucker's bet to play a game by other people's rules. Leave that sort of nonsense to betas and fragilistas. Alphas, entrepreneurs, and other anti-fragilistas make their own rules.

Andre B said...

Added to my cart on Amazon. Thank you.

LZ said...

Antifragile made me see the world in a completely new way. A lot of it dovetails with concepts of game, but also with a lot of ideas on Vox's other site, such as education and medicine/science.

I noticed some people disagree with his weightlifting advice though, arguing it is survivorship bias.

Anonymous said...

Just encountered Taleb myself. Great stuff.

Its a fair wind that blows agaainst the Empire

Ephrem Antony Gray said...

Survivorship bias often confuses durability and survivability. It's a little too evolutionary in that it assumes that continued existence is caused by fitness but the reason for that fitness is not immediately evident; this doesn't apply equally well to all areas. For instance, we do not only have archaelogical information from the most successful societies; rather, we have it from only the societies which produced the most durable goods. These societies, such as Easter Island's, may have been the least successful of all societies who just happened to produce some really durable things before vanishing into oblivion. So in some areas, studying the extant examples is equivalent of being able to study failures, whereas the successful societies often dismantled and reused durables such as stone. That's of course not universally the case, but it points to the fact that survivors are not, in all areas, necessarily successes at all, unless we narrowly define success as 'not turning to dust'.

It's a good idea when applied to some areas, especially areas where you are clearly only studying success stories; like with software testing you need to study actual failures to be able to succeed.

Nate said...


Vox.... I do believe...

that deserves a comment.

S. Thermite said...

Nate, way get me to read an article that would raise my blood pressure (and not in a good way) right before bed. And all the Pharisaical comments on that blog made me want to gag. I really hope Vox does comment on it, and Dalrock too. We need more Elijahs to call down fire on these Churchian white knights and their Jezebel wives for sacrificing their sons' masculinity on the idolatrous alters they've constructed for the female imperative.

Sensei said...


Meh.. standard "sensitive new-aged guy" hipster crap that sensitive new-aged hipster "men" in the church seem smitten by.

I've tried to reason with them before, but they're too far gone for reason. All I get back is the verbal equivalent of that nightmarish pink scalzi rabbit. It's a disabling disease of the mind. I trust recovery is possible but haven't seen any examples of it.

That kind of faux-godly feminism is rooted very deeply in the American church now that it's had a few generations to sink in; it was even at my (conservative) seminary to a limited degree. Many pastors are continuing the lies without even knowing it, both because they're both too immersed in it to notice and are less obviously so than our insane culture.

Sensei said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sensei said...

Vox, I have started reading Antifragile as well and it's incredibly interesting meta-information; it's already clarified my outlook on various things. (Why does the church spread through adversity and weaken without it? Because God's kingdom is not merely resilient, but antifragile)

Are you going to post a review when you're done? This book deserves its own post on VP.

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