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Nassim Taleb: “If you see fraud and don’t say fraud, you are a fraud”

Thomas Friedman was responsible for the Iraq invasion of 2003, and not only he paid no penalties for it but he is still continuing to have the Op-Ed page of the New York Times confusing innocent people. He got —and kept —the upside, others get the downside. A journalist with arguments can harm more people than any serial criminal. I am singling him here because, at the core, the problem is his promotion of misunderstanding of complex systems …

Natural systems work by penalties: no perpetual free option given to anyone. So does society in many things with visible effects. If someone drives a school bus blindfolded, and has an accident, he either exits the gene pool the old fashioned way, or, if for some reason he is not harmed by the accident, he will incur enough penalties to be prevented to drive other people ever again. The problem is that the journalist Thomas Friedman is, at the time of writing, still driving the bus. There is no penalty for journalists who harm society. And this is a very bad practice as we will see a few examples the current Obama administration is populated with people who drove the bus blindfolded —and still are. They get promoted.

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Nassim Taleb is the author of The Black SwanFooled By Randomness, and most recently, The Bed of Procrustes.