1/29/2020

Should We All Be Flying Less?

"One fairly odd aspect of Taleb’s profound work is his rejection of efficiency in favor of redundancy. To most economists, this feels intuitively weird. In most economic thinking, “redundancy” sounds like a synonym for inefficient, which is generally considered bad. After all, redundancy means that two or more systems perform a single function when one would have sufficed. Removing that superfluous system would free up resources available for use elsewhere. 

Or would it?

Contrary to your average economist, Taleb sees a greater number of redundant features such as insurance, additional margins of error, or back-up systems as better. This isn’t a mindless mistake on Taleb’s part, of course, but totally consistent with his general story of hidden orders in social life: uncertainty and randomness play larger roles than we commonly accept or understand. Where so-called “fragilizing” economists see inefficient redundancies, we should really see overlapping insurances. The sample from which the world draws its events is not clearly visible, and redundant systems may protect against some not-yet-observed threat."