Saturday, 28 April 2018

Rational vs Irrational

Another interesting though from Nassim Nicholas Taleb (I'm going to start calling him Nick Taleb - it's easier). He maintains that the definition of 'rational' is too grounded in the belief/science dichotomy and it shouldn't be. What is rational for one person can be totally irrational for another, depending on context. 

Nick defines the rational as that which is beneficial for survival and I find myself agreeing with that. If a religious belief provides someone with a psychological support or a friendship circle, then for that person it's rational. Similarly if someone counts lamp posts because they are OCD and counting reduced their level of anxiety, then that action also is entirely rational. Rationality of an action is therefore based on utility and is subjective.

He made an observation on the Jewish prohibition on pork which I thought quite rational. Pigs eat what humans eat and are therefore in competition with humans. Cows, on the other hand, eat things we don't. If it's a case of survival, keeping cows is more rational than keeping pigs.

In a section on success he quotes Warren Buffet, who said; "The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything." What is meant is that really successful people have a much higher risk threshold - it takes a lot to stimulate them into taking a risk.

Should finish the book today and am then moving on to Nick Taleb's Antifragile.

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