Political Anti-Fragility

July 25, 2019
1 minute.

Anti-fragility, as defined by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, is the diametric opposite of fragility. It means that a systemin the general sense of a system of interacting parts. is not only able to withstand shocks, but also directly benefits from themSome detractors suggest that the word resilient already includes this possibility. Anti-fragility emphasizes the characteristic of actually embracing the possibility shocks occurring for total overall gain. .

One of his main examples is human bone. He provides several examples of high intensity increasing bone structure and strength. I’m reminded of the study which found that palaeolithic women have greater upper body bone strength than modern day female runners.

It seems that Taleb tries to apply the idea to himself: his brusque and sometimes offensive attitude on social media, for example, not only gains him more voyeuristic followers but also induces more people to talk about him and his ideas (and his book!) even when he’s not personally involved. He makes no secret of this, describing very clearly how this works and why one might do it, even though some very intelligent people seem to forget it.

As another example take Boris Johnson or Donald Trump. They have been able to build a following where criticism is interpreted as whining or fake news from their political opponentsEdit: Trump and his followers have been even been emboldened by his aquittal of impeachment charges, even though the means by which he was acquitted were less than honourable. . Both strengthen the resolve of their followers. Personal indiscretions are actually beneficial to their constructed personas, their volatility an endearing characteristic to the popular press. In the face of this political anti-fragility, it would require an enormous, unforced error (which we can only hope for and is actually not improbable) to loosen their support.

Political Anti-Fragility - July 25, 2019 - John Hearn