13 September 2011

Some rare event

Nasim Taleb's scorn for experts reflects Solnit's exaltation of the civil society. 
Taleb understands that common sense incorporates defense against rare, catastrophic events in a way expert judgment does not. Such common sense is what Solnit is arguing for in her celebration of the wisdom of civil society. 
People trust experts because they are subject to confirmation bias. Experts declare what they have accomplished but they do not situate their accomplishments in the space of non-accomplishment or of injury. Like politicians, the experts tell people what they've done for them but not what damage they've done in the process. 
The counter-argument to such confirmation bias is trust in civil society. The value of civil society is directly observable by every participant from personal and social experience. Elders have a long memory of their direct, personal experiences. They know what happened when some rare event occured, and how it was handled for better or for worse. 

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