Saturday, September 19, 2020

The Confidence of the Elite Thinkers

I noticed that very intelligent and informed persons were at no advantage over cabdrivers in their predictions, but there was a crucial difference. Cabdrivers did not believe that they understood as much as learned people - really, they were not the experts and they knew it. Nobody knew anything, but elite thinkers thought that they knew more than the rest because they were elite thinkers, and if you're a member of the elite, you automatically know more than the nonelite.

- Nassim Nicholas Taleb in The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable


Dan in Philly said...

I remember when I first went to college. One of the first professors I had made the argument that his highly intelligent, highly educated friend who didn't follow baseball or care about it at all probably understood it more than a dull person who was obsessed with it. It was my first experience with that kind of elitism Taleb highlights here. Experience in the real world, away from academics, has taught me theory, while important, has a hard time competing with experience and obsessive attention to detail.

Michael Wade said...


Great example.

Thomas Sowell wrote in "A Conflict of Visions" about those who stress reason and those who stress experience.

I know which camp I'm in.