Nov 29, 2020

Information is Antifragile

“Information is antifragile; it feeds more on attempts to harm it than it does on efforts to promote it.”

- Nassim Taleb

Taleb is speaking of information in general and no doubt thinking of Edward Snowden or Julian Assange. Actually, the last time I read this quote was in his tweet referencing a study that found "Twitter’s anti-Trump ‘corrections’ make some people more likely to believe [President] Trump," according to the Wall Street Journal. "Explain to me why you need a study to know that," Taleb wrote. Then he quoted the above.

Thinking about this reminded me of my childhood and a band called 2 Live Crew. Their songs were so raunchy and profane that their music was banned — or, at minimum, labeled and limited. This, of course, made them wildly popular in my school. Their songs weren’t even that good. I can’t recall a single song title or lyric today. But they were certainly antifragile, feeding on the attempts to harm them much more than I imagine they would have fed on efforts to promote them. 

Taleb’s wisdom also recalls George Lakoff’s insight: “When you negate the frame, you evoke the frame. When you evoke the frame, you strengthen it.”

Frames, like information, are antifragile.