“The lesson for the small is: be human! Accept that being human involves
some amount of epistemic arrogance in running your affairs. Do not be
ashamed of that. Do not try to always withhold judgment—opinions are
the stuff of life. Do not try to avoid predicting—yes, after this diatribe
about prediction I am not urging you to stop being a fool. Just be a fool in
the right places.*
What you should avoid is unnecessary dependence on large-scale
harmful predictions—those and only those. Avoid the big subjects that
may hurt your future: be fooled in small matters, not in the large. Do not
listen to economic forecasters or to predictors in social science (they are
mere entertainers), but do make your own forecast for the picnic. By all
means, demand certainty for the next picnic; but avoid government social security
forecasts for the year 2040.
Know how to rank beliefs not according to their plausibility but by the
harm they may cause.”
–Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
I illustrate with a beautiful car* (which makes me a fool in the right place as I know nothing of cars) by the British painter Alan Fearnley.