| April 11, 2018


Podcast #395: Skin in the Game

In a world where some people have certain advantages that others do not, how do you navigate the landscape while still acting ethically? My guest today argues that we all need to put some more skin in the game.

His name is Nassim Nicholas Taleb. If you read the AoM site, you’ve likely seen our articles about his antifragility concept. In his latest book, Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life, he explores the ethics of living in a complex and uneven world. We begin our conversation discussing what Taleb means by skin in the game and how it’s similar to traditional notions of honor. Nassim then explains what he means by asymmetries, how people exploit them unethically, and how skin in the game can reduce that exploitation. Taleb then explains why ethics are hard to scale, why minorities end up ruling, and what it means to put not only skin, but soul in the game.

Show Highlights

  • The big picture problem Taleb has been tackling with his life’s work 
  • Why “skin in the game” isn’t related to incentives, but rather risk
  • The role honor plays in Taleb’s work 
  • How rank equaled risk in ancient times, and how that’s changed in modern society 
  • The new class of charlatans in our world 
  • Virtue signaling 
  • Incentivizing people to accept risks, even when it’s possible not to (and why that’s actually faulty thinking itself) 
  • What courage really is 
  • What Taleb believes it means to be human 
  • Scaling our ethics, and the point at which our code can encompass too many people 
  • What having “soul” in the game means?
  • The Lindy effect, and writing for posterity 
  • How religion makes people and communities antifragile 
  • How minorities often end up ruling 

Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast

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