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Epiphanies from Nassim Nicholas Taleb

In this interview with Foreign Policy, Nassim Taleb reflects on the most stable country in human history and the folly of the European Union.

On the European Union:

On paper, it might appear much more efficient to be large — to have economies of scale. But in reality, it’s much more efficient to be small. An elephant is vastly more efficient, metabolically, than a mouse. It’s the same for a megacity as opposed to a village. But an elephant can break a leg very easily, whereas you can toss a mouse out of a window and it’ll be fine. Size makes you fragile.

The most stable country in the history of mankind, and probably the most boring, by the way, is Switzerland.

It’s not even a city-state environment; it’s a municipal state. Most decisions are made at the local level, which allows for distributed errors that don’t adversely affect the wider system. Meanwhile, people want a united Europe, more alignment, and look at the problems. The solution is right in the middle of Europe — Switzerland. It’s not united! It doesn’t have a Brussels! It doesn’t need one.

Taleb’s new book Anti-Fragile comes out soon. You can pre-order it here.