Fat Tony and Dr. John ...

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Fat Tony and Dr. John ...
Jos Nieland, Teacher, Netherlands

In the Black Swan and his other books, Taleb distinguish between two types of knowledge, each with it's own funny archetype:
- Rational / formal / Plato / Soviet / Harvard classroom knowledge. Taleb uses 'Dr. John' as the symbol for the rational person. Dr. John is "college wise" and knows what's going on the university or financial institution where he works.
- Sceptical / empiric / non-Plato / streetwise knowledge. 'Fat Tony' represents this last type of knowledge. He is streetwise and knows what's going on in the world around him. He has an enormous curiosity about the texture of reality.
Here are some more characteristics of the two guys:

Fat Tony
(Skeptic, empiric knowledge)
Dr. John
(Rational, formal knowledge)
StreetwiseCollege wise
Tinkering, stochastic tinkeringDirected search
EpilogismInductive knowledge
Historia a sensate cognitioCausative historiography
Austrian economicsNeoclassical economics
Bottom-up, libertarianismTop-down, central planner
Spirit of the LawLetter of the Law

Are you a Fat Tony or Dr. John? Taleb has a nice test in the Black Swan:
Assume that a coin is fair, i.e., has an equal probability of coming up heads or tails when flipped. I flip it 99 times and get head each time. What are the odds of my getting tails on my next throw?
Think about what your answer would be!
These are the answers of Dr. John and Fat Tony.
Dr. John: Trivial question. 50% of course!
Fat Tony: No more than 1% of course. The coin gotta be loaded.
And Fat Tony is right of course in practice. The chance that there is something wrong with the assumption is almost endlessly bigger than 99 times heads after each other.
Dr. John's mind is closed and thinks completely in the "classroom/Harvard/Soviet" knowledge box.
Fat Tony thinks almost entirely outside the formal knowledge box.  Taleb things that's a big advantage in a opaque and uncertain world. What do you think: who should be the risk manager on Wall Street? 

Risk Manager on Wall Street
M. Firoze, Manager, Bangladesh
Fat Tony of course! Tony's are the appropriate managers in the business world. They combine theoretical knowledge with a healthy dose of real world empiricism to make rational decisions.

Fat Tony Profile
Jos Nieland, Teacher, Netherlands
@M. Firoze: Actually, Fat Tony has just a little theoretical knowledge, and a lot of real world (sceptical) empiricism.


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