de la Talebenning, of courso …

photo by Marvin Rozendal, via Unsplash

We’re back, folks!

You knew we would be because we clearly have unresolved business, does our little gang of anti-Talebites. One such can of worms is the competition as described in L’epilogo del Essayo, which we will come to shortly, but for the time being we must deal with my prediction as to how Fragile Nassim would respond to the original essay.

As a reminder, I said the following towards the end of A Tale of Two Talebs:

Cryptography is another field in which I know a great deal more than Fragile Nassim. And so rather than state my prediction outright, I am going to put it through SHA256 and post the hash.

For the uninitiated reader, this means that the string of gibberish below is an output of a cryptographic function that takes my plaintext prediction as an input, but which cannot be reversed. It is as close to mathematically impossible as can be hoped for without being a sure thing. And so, you cannot take the output below and derive the input, nor can you alter the input in any way whatsoever and predict what change this will make to the output. Therefore, once I tell you the plaintext input, you can be absolutely certain that it matches the output, and hence that I did in fact make this prediction.

When you think about it, there is something beautifully Talebian about doing this at all, never mind doing it to Taleb. If Taleb is stupid enough, or unhinged enough, my payoff is huge because I compare all the things he actually did to my prediction, which I can prove I made before he did it. That’s the jackpot. That’s Universa-in-early-2020-esque. And if he doesn’t, I just say I’m not revealing it because my prediction was wrong. That’s maybe a tiny bit embarrassing, but so what? predictions are hard! Especially about such complex, nonlinear systems as Taleb’s mood. My downside is protected, while my upside is huge. It’s priced just like a massively out-the-money option. I am Dynamically Hedged.

I have to say I am rather disappointed that he basically didn’t do any of the things I predicted. At least not the ones I can verify from his public behaviour. But that’s okay. I am Dynamically Hedged. It’s no biggie. In fact, I would argue that I am being incredibly brave to post the preimage at all, given it involves ceding points to Fragile Nassim. Think about that. Think about how brave I am.

Here is the hash primage, with commentary to follow. This is how I predicted Fragile Nassim would respond:

He’ll be mad at first, for sure. He will reread the sections above to find obvious factual errors, but he will fail. Then he will read up on those fields to find deeper conceptual errors, but this will fail too. Then he will call upon Joe Norman, Yaneer Bar-Yam, and Ole Peters to try to help him. This will be an interesting moment. While I admire them a great deal, I do not know these individuals personally so I do not want to insult them, but I can describe the position they will be in. They will read the essay first, they will realise that I am right and Taleb is wrong, and then they will have to tell Taleb this. I don’t know if they will or not, but I hope they do. Regardless, Taleb will then move on to trying to get ahead of the increasing Twitter furore by going after me personally. He will try to mock specific quotes from this essay, out of context, and which can easily be rebutted by other quotes from this essay, in context. He will try to deflect attention from my debunking of his total misunderstanding of nonlinearity, second-order effects, and so on, by claiming that this is merely theory, whereas he deals with practice. However, it is perfectly clear in this essay that I am debunking his misuse of theory. I have no views on his abilities as an options trader. I imagined he was pretty good although actually encountered evidence that he was not only entirely average, but willing to destroy people for merely pointing this out. Still, I am relatively uninformed on his actual abilities. I honestly don’t even really care. Trading only exists as an offshoot of investing. Production capital is far more important than financial capital, so you’re welcome. Anyway, he will try to dig up poorly thought through tweets of mine. He will find the one with this URL: https://twitter.com/allenf32/status/1230985234306519041. I only delete tweets for typographical reasons, or because I later decide that they are in bad taste: never because I am ashamed, so his mocking this tweet will be fine. He will pick up on the fact that I have written several times for Quillette, although on topics completely unrelated to his pointless tiff with Claire Lehmann, and which, once again, I know a lot more about than he does. Then, he will set his legions of sycophantic Twitter followers on me. I will do my best to engage jokingly, but at a certain magnitude it just won’t be possible and I will have to start blocking them. I won’t want to, but I won’t be able to user Twitter otherwise. I will save this nuclear option for those who are clearly acting in the worst faith, and try to engage with others. He will certainly consider and may follow through with posting a reply on Medium, but if he does so it will be everything I have predicted above, and so I will have to think about whether to reply with mercy or not. I might just say, “FUCK OFF YOU BULLYING, COWARDLY, BULLSHITTING CHARLATAN”, or I might say, “lol, Fragile Nassim strikes back!” We will have to wait and see. While all this is happening, he may even try to delete the tweets of his in question that I referenced in the essay. It won’t matter, however, as I have screenshots. In other words, he will rain down all manner of distracting, fallacious bullshit that does nothing to refute my irrefutable core argument: that he is a bully, a coward, and a bullshitting charlatan. That’s actually the ultimate prize. Taleb deleting tweets will mean that I have won. If I have in fact won, I will publish the commitment of this hash. The output of this hash is already on Twitter because Taleb got the ball rolling before I published the essay, somewhat defeating the point of making any predictions I had not yet publicised.

SHA256:1E997FE5DD9D49EB1F4E7EB8113A66E3C4C8F19C8067EB14507DF7260363A703

and the timestamp:

Whatever to make of all this? An ignominious defeat? A mark of imbecility and a lack of appreciation for the SECOND ORDER COMPLEX NONLINEAR EFFECTS and beyond?

lolz. that’s cute.

Well, first of all, I did in fact deal with a barrage of sycophantic Talebites, who did in fact rain down all manner of distracting, fallacious bullshit that did nothing to refute my irrefutable core argument. And I didn’t have to block any of them because I trolled them so hard they blocked me. Booyah.

Second of all, I think it’s safe to say he consulted Norman and Bar-Yam who did exactly what I described and then resolved to keep quiet about it forever. I can’t prove this, obviously, but I welcome their public refutation. Note this means they need to start arguing with the claims in the essay. They won’t do this. Double booyah.

Third of all, we must contend with the fact that Fragile Nassim read the post. Given its popularity, he was obviously going to be aware of it, but we know specifically that he read it because he tweeted a screenshot of a comment. Unfortunately, he deleted the tweet before I thought to screenshot it. He also blocked a parody account that had never interacted with his. He’s wildly unpredictable, which I guess he did say in one of his books …

But let us ponder further how odd it is that my predictions have not come true …

Can you think of anybody else to have ever crossed him to then escape his wrath? This is somebody who routinely goes well out of his way to destroy people. Why hasn’t he tried to destroy me?

Is it because A Tale of Two Talebs isn’t a big enough deal? We shall see. The monthly readership is growing exponentially, a process we all know he understands very well due to his musings on P=NP. It is only a matter of time before somebody puts it to him directly and he can’t avoid addressing it.

I would like to think it is because I predicted his behaviour both pre- and post-Hofstadterian paradox. Maybe, maybe not. But note I am now super-dynamically hedged because, if he is pushed to the point of needing to harass me, it will be despite my prediction of this being entirely public!

I want to push him to such a point. It will undoubtedly Streisand back in his face and be all the more delightful for bystanders. That is why I launched the competition to solve the cryptic puzzle as indicated in the Twitter thread below:

For those readers who have Twitter, please publicise this as best you can. Not only will it help spread the original post but it will raise awareness for BTCPayServer, which I think is an entirely worthy cause. Although the puzzle is solvable, I would rather prefer that nobody solved it so that I can give the entire prize pot to them.

For those who do not have Twitter, I will repeat the terms here:

there is a puzzle embedded in the piece. it cannot be solved. the prize will be awarded to whoever correctly explains *why* it cannot be solved. to avoid suspicions of shenanigans, I have written out the conditions of victory and hashed them:

635A9B10FBF31D966574480BB9CC1FF4F921F69AC6FDD08490DD811D08CC829F

I will make public these conditions in another Appendiccio when the competition closes so that everybody can audit the whole process for funny business.

to be clear, that is a hash of a very long plaintext explanation of the requirements for a submission to win. please submit solutions to taleoftwotalebs@gmail.com. the deadline will be one month from now, July 6th, 2020.

on July 6th I will post the primage, and I will contact the winners via the email address they use to submit. non-winning entries will not be contacted unless I think they are funny enough to deserve it. winners’ identities will not be made public unless they request it.

the prize will be as follows: 0.25 BTC to be donated to BTCPayServer, and 0.25 BTC to be split between correct submissions. this set will max out at 5 based on who submitted first. in the event of zero correct submissions by the deadline, fully 0.5 BTC will be donated to BTCPayServer.

in order to receive your prize, you must have a bitcoin address and you must be willing to tell me this, obviously. this can be done privately, over telegram or signal if desired. or, if you are just swell, submit anyway and, if you win, donate your prize to BTCPayServer.

furthermore, I heartily encourage any well-off Bitcoiners to publicly vow to either match or exceed my donation! don’t worry too much about who wins my stupid competition, but certainly retweet and repost all this nonsense as a way to gather momentum for BTCPayServer.

Happy hunting, folks!

And watch this space for further Appendiccios. This was by far the least exciting …

follow me on Twitter @allenf32, and follow @BtcpayServer too while you are at it.

maybe a squirrel. maybe not. views my own, not my employer’s.