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Skin in the Game

Former derivatives trader turned philosophical essayist,Nassim Nicholas Taleb, joins us to talk about his new book, ‘Skin in the Game,” about the role risk and reward plays not only in politics but also our daily lives.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb spent twenty-one years as a derivatives trader before changing careers to become a scholar, mathematical researcher and philosophical essayist. Mr. Taleb’s works focuses on mathematical, philosophical, and practical problems with risk and probability, as well as on the properties of systems that can handle disorder.  He is the author of many essays and books about risk and uncertainty including the New York Times bestselling The Black Swan and his latest Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life”.

“What you had historically is warmongers were warriors. And he who lives by the sword, dies by the sword… Now suddenly – and that’s only recent – we developed all these weapons and technologies and stuff like that, so you can have people cause wars and not be exposed.  And not only that, but as was Bill Kristol… he’s a prime example. The people who caused the war in Iraq… absolutely no cost to them. Or a cost that’s very small, very tiny reputational cost… And then after they cause a war in Iraq – and of course we have a disaster – they will intervene again… in Libya and of course in Syria. What happens with these people is that given that there is no skin in the game, there’s no learning… In the real world, these people should be dead, because basically, if you cause a disaster… so many of them would be… pruned out that way instead of letting others die.” Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life


  1. Walter Fritsch, Jr. says:

    I just had the privilege to listen in on the interview with NASSIM NICHOLAS TALEB & the Skin in the Game publication. I totally enjoyed the entirety of the interview as well as Ralphs call-in questions from his listeners. In the future, I will certainly make a point to listen to his weekly radio hour show.
    I would also like for someone on Ralphs staff to contact me concerning a personal request which I have of Mr. Nader. I happen to be an advisor to the Greater New Haven Labor History Association. To go one step further I would like to extend an invitation to Mr. Nader which will take place sometime either during mid-summer or early fall.
    Your cooperation in these matters will be greatly appreciated.


    Walter S. Fritsch Jr.

  2. Gary Schnakenberg..VFP says:

    Always a very interesting presentation..

  3. Rob Hanna says:

    Ralph and Nassim are two of the most admirable Lebs alive who have effected cogent change improving lives onward from the introduction of their work. They’re more than catalysts, and also serve as solvents to reveal our basic truths as we should embody them in action, not merely idle theory…

  4. BB Banks says:

    I heard Nassim and Nader yesterday on KPFA. Superb interview, repeat the interview or have him back. So many Practical ideas/ solutions. Great guest!!!!

    Nader, your show is #1 for me. Literally. And asking for listeners response online here makes sense, yet first time any program has asked in my experience. Like very much that your ego isn’t bruised when a guest puts forth an idea that supersedes yours. You listen.

    Thank you!!!

  5. Gilbert Hall says:

    This is a disappointingly uncritical interview. Hitler had all his skin in the game in WWII and Roosevelt didn’t have any, in Europe at least, yet Hitler was the evil and irresponsible one and surely Roosevelt was right to intervene? Putin has no skin in the game in Syria, yet Taleb seems happy about his intervention. What’s Taleb’s position on America taking on Islamic State (where Obama and now Trump have no skin in the game)?

    I would have liked some detail about how Israelis and Palestinians will settle if there’s no outside interference. It doesn’t look easy to me.

    Wasn’t the Libyan regime collapsing anyway? Didn’t the West’s limited intervention mainly stop Gaddafi killing large numbers of people, including many civilians, without changing the final outcome?

    I want politicians to instruct and finance the police to tackle violent criminals, gangs, terrorists, etc. But I don’t see why the politicians themselves should take any risk in this. Being a politician is a lousy enough career as it is. It’s enough that the police volunteer and are given proper support.

    • Joaquin Closet says:

      Gilbert – Roosevelt certainly had SITG. Japan was the Axis power which invaded the U.S., and had signed an agreement with Germany to fight all Allied powers. In effect, they goaded us into the global war. Perhaps Roosevelt set them up – that part is still in dispute, but for all intents and purposes, Japan was indeed a proxy for Hitler’s Germany.

    • sayres rudy says:

      agree esp on his simplistic empirical claims about syria & palestine, with real implications for his argument. true, the ancient critique of abstraction and distanciation hold: pragmatic grounded assessments help avoid terrible errors. but the minute he needs to force it into real events, he must crudely simplify.

  6. Serra says:

    Thanku sir for army rally bharti

  7. David says:

    Re Libya, check out recent Brit House of commons report on the truth of the basis for intervention there. Saving innocent civilians from Genocide. (Which you repeat)

    Found to be utterly spurious. A fiction. Bloody typical!

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