Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life (英語) ペーパーバック – 2018/2/27
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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A bold new work from the author of The Black Swan that challenges many of our long-held beliefs about risk and reward, politics and religion, finance and personal responsibility
In his most provocative and practical book yet, one of the foremost thinkers of our time redefines what it means to understand the world, succeed in a profession, contribute to a fair and just society, detect nonsense, and influence others. Citing examples ranging from Hammurabi to Seneca, Antaeus the Giant to Donald Trump, Nassim Nicholas Taleb shows how the willingness to accept one’s own risks is an essential attribute of heroes, saints, and flourishing people in all walks of life.
As always both accessible and iconoclastic, Taleb challenges long-held beliefs about the values of those who spearhead military interventions, make financial investments, and propagate religious faiths. Among his insights:
• For social justice, focus on symmetry and risk sharing. You cannot make profits and transfer the risks to others, as bankers and large corporations do. You cannot get rich without owning your own risk and paying for your own losses. Forcing skin in the game corrects this asymmetry better than thousands of laws and regulations.
• Ethical rules aren’t universal. You’re part of a group larger than you, but it’s still smaller than humanity in general.
• Minorities, not majorities, run the world. The world is not run by consensus but by stubborn minorities imposing their tastes and ethics on others.
• You can be an intellectual yet still be an idiot. “Educated philistines” have been wrong on everything from Stalinism to Iraq to low-carb diets.
• Beware of complicated solutions (that someone was paid to find). A simple barbell can build muscle better than expensive new machines.
• True religion is commitment, not just faith. How much you believe in something is manifested only by what you’re willing to risk for it.
The phrase “skin in the game” is one we have often heard but rarely stopped to truly dissect. It is the backbone of risk management, but it’s also an astonishingly rich worldview that, as Taleb shows in this book, applies to all aspects of our lives. As Taleb says, “The symmetry of skin in the game is a simple rule that’s necessary for fairness and justice, and the ultimate BS-buster,” and “Never trust anyone who doesn’t have skin in the game. Without it, fools and crooks will benefit, and their mistakes will never come back to haunt them.”
Praise for Nassim Nicholas Taleb
“The problem with Taleb is not that he’s an asshole. He is an asshole. The problem with Taleb is that he is right.”—Dan from Prague, Czech Republic (Twitter)
“The most prophetic voice of all . . . [Taleb is] a genuinely significant philosopher . . . someone who is able to change the way we view the structure of the world through the strength, originality and veracity of his ideas alone.”—John Gray, GQ
“Taleb grabs on to core problems that others ignore, or don’t see, and shakes them like an attack dog on a leg.”—Greg from New York (Twitter)
“For my wife and me, Antifragile is an annual reread.”—Colle from Richmond, Virginia (Twitter)
“I read Antifragile four times. First, to get the wisdom to survive. Second, as a memorial statement for Fat Tony. Third, as Das Kapital with correct mathematics. Fourth, as ethics to learn a good way to die.”—Tamitake from Tokyo, Japan (Twitter)
“November . . . time for my annual reread of Antifragile.”—Johann from Vienna, Austria (Twitter)
“[Taleb writes] in a style that owes as much to Stephen Colbert as it does to Michel de Montaigne.”—The Wall Street Journal
タイトルは”Skin in the Game”．金融/証券用語的な意味だと，自己資金投資になります．Buffettが最初にこの言葉を使ったという説もあるらしいですが，そこから派生して，身銭を切らない者を信じてはいけない / 他人に何かを勧めるなら自分も同じリスクを負え，ということらしいです．
Talebの場合，それを人間関係，企業組織，また国家/国際関係に当てはめて議論していて，Antifragileでも１章分，このSkin in the Gameについて議論していますが，そこから今回このトピックを広げて一冊にしあげております．Stanfordでのセミナーでも語っているように(youtubeで stanford taleb skin in the gameででてきます)，ハムラビ法典でのペナルティーの科し方(建築家は，自身が設計した家に住んだ主が，その家の建築の欠陥で壊れ，亡くなった場合その脆い家を建てた建築家も罰せられる(この場合死刑))に基づくリスク管理が必要だと．
そこにはアップサイドの利益とダウンサイドの損失が自身と他者で非対称性になります．ジャイアン的に言うと，俺の出した利益は俺のもの，俺の出した損失はクライアントのもの or 納税者(会社の自己資金だとしても，万が一の場合はtoo big to failの元，政府に救済される)．これをどう防ぐかなど，これまでの作品と比べると倫理的な議論が多いですが，社会が学ぶべきことが書かれています．
そして，本文にでてくる次のフレーズは様々な場合で相手がSkin in the Gameかどうかが分かるシンプルな嘘発見器となります．
“In case you are giving economic views:Don’t tell me what you “think,” just tell me what’s in your portfolio”
→What’s in your portfolio? - つまり
あなたは，自分の息子/娘さんにも同じものを勧めれますか?(既に高校を卒業していたら)勧めていましたか?と．かわ◯塾のスタッフなのに息子にはすんだ◯の予備校の講座とらせていたらskin in the gameではありません．
→What’s in your portfolio? - つまり
(金融機関勤めていると本人自身はできない投資もあるので)あなたは，その商品をご両親や祖父母にも偽りなく勧められますか?と．その窓口の営業マンがご両親や祖父母にはラップ口座勧めず，ネット証券での手数料が安い投資信託を勧めていたらskin in the gameではありません．
そのコーナーに，ダイヤモン◯社の書籍でなく最近で◯洋経済新報社からでた本です!と答えられる編集者がいたら...skin in the gameです．
それぞれの「格言」は深いインプリケーションを持つものです。bob rubin trade, scientism, minority rule, intellectual yet idiot (IYI), virtue merchandisingなどに代表される切り口は、どれも現代社会の本質を鋭くえぐっています。ただ本書はどうも全体のまとまりに欠けるようです。これはタイトルのskin in the game という言葉の豊潤な意味がどうも捉えきれないのかもしれません。いつものように聖書も含めた様々な古典がこのskin in the gameの議論のために援用されるのですが、どれもなじみがあまりない古典なのです。そして議論は宗教にまで伸びていくのです。
一方で、議論の中で繰り返し援用される概念は、最近のThe End of Theory: Financial Crises, the Failure of Economics, and the Sweep of Human Interactionとかなりoverlapするのです。ergocity, emergent, heuristic, computational impossibilityそしてuncertaintyなどの概念は両者に共通しており、結局のところリスク管理の議論をその根源にまでさかのぼって誠実に詰めていくとこれらの概念にたどり着くようです。
Let’s start with the cons:
1. I certainly won’t be the first to notice that Taleb can be mean-spirited. But why does he insist on presenting his views in this way? The communication of his ideas, often profound, does not require a mean-spirited or condescending tone. For however brilliant Taleb thinks he is, his skills in persuasion are severely lacking; he’s alienating a significant readership that may have otherwise been more receptive to his ideas.
Not very far into the book we see Taleb take cheap shots at Steven Pinker, out of nowhere, discussing a topic that has nothing to do with any of Pinker’s actual ideas or positions. One wonders why Taleb cannot just present his ideas without the incessant personal attacks and condescension.
2. His overall philosophy appears to be self-refuting. He reviles “intellectuals,” professors, and thinkers while praising “doers” and men of practice. He’s particularly distrustful of those who give advice for a living. Here’s Taleb:
“Avoid taking advice from someone who gives advice for a living, unless there is a penalty for their advice.”
So should we then ignore THIS advice? As far as I can tell, Skin in the Game is a work of philosophy, an intellectual exercise that argues against the value of intellectual exercise. This is the same self-refuting logic of relativism—in that the statement “everything is relative” is self-refuting because the statement itself needs to be absolute.
If Taleb is wrong in any part of his philosophy it doesn’t appear that he would incur any penalty (no skin in the game). The upside for him is book sales with little to no downside risk, so by using his own logic we should conclude to not trust him.
Also, to the extent that you believe ideas have power you might find yourself disagreeing with Taleb’s extreme position that no good ideas could possibly come from someone in an academic position (particularly from the reviled economists).
Except that Taleb uses economic theories to frame his thinking. The Tragedy of the Commons, something Taleb discusses in his book, was developed by the economist William Forster Lloyd in his armchair. Even Taleb’s Black Swan concept is a reformulation of the Peso problem developed by...economists.
I’m sure anyone can think up examples, rather easily, of useful ideas that were discovered by intellectuals or from university research.
3. Taleb obsesses about the superiority of practice over academics and theory. This is a questionable proposition.
As just one example, a recent study in the American Journal of Medicine concluded that “patients whose doctors had practiced for at least 20 years stayed longer in the hospital and were more likely to die compared to those whose doctors got their medical license in the past five years.”
My own personal experience corroborates this, as a medical student was able to correctly diagnose what the attending physician had missed on a trip to the ER. Very experienced, practical individuals sometimes perpetuate bad habits and fail to keep informed of the theories and academics that lead to better practice. This point is completely lost on Taleb.
4. Taleb’s definition of rationality as any action that promotes survival is patently false, as a simple thought experiment can show. Imagine a hypothetical survival machine is available for your use. By plugging yourself in, it will guarantee and maximize your life span and, on a social scale, maximizes reproduction. The price is that the machine also inflicts a high degree of pain and cuts you off from contact with other people.
According to the logic of Taleb, the rational thing to do would be to plug into this machine. Of course, no one would volunteer to do this because survival is not what motivates rational behavior. Any rational agent would choose one year of pleasant life over 100 years in the survival machine, because actions have value according to how they promote or are perceived to promote well-being or pleasure.
Taleb, using this more believable definition of rationality, could have used it to argue the same points, namely how religious belief cannot be called irrational if it promotes well-being, which includes psychological well-being and survival but not survival alone.
That Taleb is antagonistic and holds some questionable views does not mean that he’s wrong about everything. When not being demeaning or taking extreme positions, Taleb writes about some of the most original, thought-provoking, and profound ideas. And even when you find yourself disagreeing with him, he makes you think. For this reason alone, the book is worth checking out.
The idea that the extent of people’s stakes in particular outcomes is a critical yet underrated determinant of events is a profound idea with several implications, which Taleb skillfully explores throughout the book. And his idea that you should have to pay some kind of penalty for decisions that negatively impact others—risk sharing vs. risk transfer—is a solid framework for thinking about a host of issues. Of course, these ideas would be easier to swallow if presented with a little more humility, but I suppose we should know what to expect from Taleb by now.
His latest book, Skin in The Game, is more of a work of moral philosophy than one of probability and statistics. In my opinion, its most valuable aspect is that it provides a framework though which to judge the arguments, assertions, and most importantly the actions of others. That framework is skin in the game. To have skin in the game is to have a stake in the outcome of any given circumstance (upside and downside). This framework only ascribes value to the opinions of people who have skin in the game and makes judgements based on other people’s actions and not their words. In the end the determination of right and wrong is left up to the passage of time, with survival being the highest badge of success. This has applications not just in investing but also in politics, religion, medicine, and may other arenas.
My only gripe about the book is that there is no update on the life and times of Nero Tulip. One of Taleb’s most interesting characters and a mainstay in all of his other books.