If you read my review of Fooled By Randomness over at 26books, you'll know that I found its insights clouded by the unbearable pomposity of its author. There's more from Taleb at the Freakonomics blog. Faced with the question of whether he would give a spare $10 to a beggar or a hot dog vendor, Taleb replies:
When I recently had drinks and cheese with Stephen Dubner (I ate 100% of the cheese), he asked me why economics bothers me so much as a discipline, to the point of causing allergic reactions when I encounter some academic economists. Indeed, my allergy can be physical: recently, on a British Airways flight place between London and Zurich, I found myself seated across the aisle from an Ivy League international economist dressed in a blue blazer and reading the Financial Times. I asked to be moved and preferred a downgrade, just to breathe the unpolluted air of economy class. My destination was a retreat in the Swiss mountains, in a setting similar to that of [Thomas] Mann's Magic Mountain, and I wanted nothing to offend my sensibility.
I've retained Taleb's slightly incomprehensible prose because, as readers of Fooled By Randomness will recall, he prefers it that way.
Anyway, two points:
1. Do you think Taleb exaggerates his arrogance for his own amusement? 2. It's mildly ironic that, in order to avoid an economist, Taleb went to economy class.
Update: I just read Mike in Tennessee's brilliant comment on the Freakonomics post: "Nassim Nicholas Taleb sounds like an unbearable windbag. I would use my ten dollars to pay him to stop talking."