Tag Archives: books

The Fourth Quadrant: A map of the limits of statistics by Nassim Taleb



Random Walk—Characterized by volatility. You only find these in textbooks and in essays on probability by people who have never really taken decisions under uncertainty.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the man who wrote of the black swans, the highly improbable and unpredictable events that have massive impact, has recently written an essay for EDGE about how those who are putting society at risk are “no true statisticians”, but merely people using statistics either without understanding them, or in a self-serving manner. its entitled THE FOURTH QUADRANT: A MAP OF THE LIMITS OF STATISTICS and can be found on the EDGE site here>

Statistical and applied probabilistic knowledge is the core of knowledge; statistics is what tells you if something is true, false, or merely anecdotal; it is the “logic of science”; it is the instrument of risk-taking; it is the applied tools of epistemology; you can’t be a modern intellectual and not think probabilistically—but… let’s not be suckers. The problem is much more complicated than it seems to the casual, mechanistic user who picked it up in graduate school. Statistics can fool you. In fact it is fooling your government right now. It can even bankrupt the system (let’s face it: use of probabilistic methods for the estimation of risks did just blow up the banking system).

Two books I need to read:

Tim Gill’s No Fear: Growing Up in a Risk Averse Society

Frank Furedi’s Where have all the Intellectuals Gone?

The top 12 sci-fi books of 19th/20th century



I am currently reading…

oh to reminisce!

I have just been listening to the RSA podcast entitled Designing Interactions named after the title of Bill Moggridge’s new book. During the podcast he was discussing the history of interaction design and its future. Which of course led on to my  tutors, Tony and Fiona to discuss the Design Interactions course at the RCA . At the time of the lecture , mid June, I was panicking about establishing my own institute (see previous posts) and only now have managed to get the time to have a listen. I have only just realised the Bill came to visit us whilst i was in the middle of the madness earlier in the year and he was really cool. He was very happy to listen and hear about a few of our projects and give advice as to how we might tackle them. He is definitely into what the Design Interactions course is doing and I wonder maybe if IDEO may be going through a change of some sort, perhaps returning to its more experimental side and expanding its current commercial boundaries that may be holding them back.

Derren Brown the mentalist

I have been reading Derren Brown‘s recently published book “Tricks of the Mind” and have learnt alot about his debunking methods used on his tv series on channel 4. He explains his roots in “mentalism”, and the variety of professions that mentalists go onto being including tarot-readers, psychics, clairvoyants, evangelists, spiritualists, entertainers, motivational speakers(eg Anthony Robbins) and are “driven by profit, ego, ot heartfelt altruism”(Brown). He explicitly points out that he would rather be as honest as he can but to also retain a sense of drama & mystique and make his shows entertaining using psychological trickery and mind acuity. He discusses his viewpoints on the principles of NLP and methods used in non verbal communication to build rapport eg mirroring. In one chapter ” anti-science, psuedoscience and bad thinking” he further discusses the paranormal industry and looks at why we have such a need for belief systems and a desire to have such a sense of belonging.

Also see post about Dr. Richard Wiseman