Nicholas Nassim Taleb appeared on Newsnight on Friday night, angry to the point of being inarticulate.

This was hard to watch, but fascinating: Emily Maitlis appears not to understand what Taleb is saying. The other two guests, both economists, trot out excuses for why they missed the current crisis and happily make predictions about what will happen to a complex and uncertain crisis. Meanwhile Taleb infuriates everyone in the studio by refusing to make predictions and banging on with his core argument: why the experts didn't and don't understand risk and should not be allowed to carry on using their discredited risk management models.

This comment from one blogger.

And this is from Bryan Appleyard, a journalist who "gets" Taleb.



I love how he can just proclaim his ignorance when asked a question. Has anyone ever said 'I have no idea' in the history of Newsnight? Awesome.

As you say, it's fascinating because you just aren't supposed to say that on a supposedly clever current affairs programme

There is, I suggest, another lesson to be taken from Taleb's performance. Sure, he has right on his side. Certainly the economists are guilty of hypocrisy. And of course Emily Maitlis is a poor presenter. But Taleb could have made his own case more effectively by remaining calm. He did not explain his argument well and in that sense he missed an opportunity. Anger very rarely works in live broadcasting. It generates more heat than light.  

I saw him speak at the Hay Festival this year, and he makes huge assumptions about what people know about his work. None of my friends understood a word, and I, having read his book, could barely keep up either.

It seems like his patience has run out for the ignorant fools he obviously takes a lot of people to be.

Like I said, it was hard to watch: Taleb was just too angry. 

John, Taleb can be entirely lucid when he is more relaxed, like in this lengthy podcast.

Taleb on Newsnight: one angry man