This post is the sixth episode of the multi-part series based on Peter Bevelin’s book — All I Want to Know is Where I’m Going to Die, So I’ll Never Go There.
So why are we talking about ideas on what doesn’t work rather than ideas on what works? Isn’t it a negative approach to talk about what doesn’t work? I’ll let Nassim Taleb explain why this works. In his book Antifragile, Taleb writes —
The greatest — and most robust — contribution to knowledge consists in removing what we think is wrong — subtractive epistemology…we know a lot more what is wrong than what is right…negative knowledge (what is wrong, what does not work) is more robust to error than positive knowledge (what is right, what works). So knowledge grows by subtraction much more than by addition — given that what we know today might turn out to be wrong but what we know to be wrong cannot turn out to be right, at least not easily…disconfirmation is more rigorous than confirmation.
Charlie Munger, while wearing his curmudgeon hat, declared, “All I want to know is where I am going to die, so I’ll never go there.” And that’s his way of driving home Taleb’s point about focusing on the negative knowledge.
Bevelin’s book is dedicated to Charlie Munger’s philosophy. Here are a few more insights from the book on what doesn’t work.
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