Anant Jain
Published in

Anant Jain

Skin in The Game

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

The minority often rules the majority

The society adapts itself to what an inflexible minority wants, rather than what the majority prefer. This is called the minority rule, and is one of the many asymmeteries that Taleb talks about in this book. For example, even though only a small percentage of the population in the UK is Muslim (about 4%), around 70% of the meat imports are processed according to the Halal standards — minority rule results whenever the majority is indifferent or flexible, and the minority gets to drive the consumption for everyone.

Modern Slavery

Employees are more reliable than contractors. They cost more, but they come with dependability. Employees know how to fulfill a task which his master deems necessary or satisfy a gameable metric but cannot be trusted to do decision making which entails serious trade-offs. A free person is someone whose fate is not dependent on peer assessment. An author cares about what his readers think and subsequent sales of her books. An academician, on the other hand, cares about the judgment of his peers.

Judging the experts

An award, a recognition, an acceptance of a paper are not usually indicative of the quality of the work — it just indicates that a certain section of currently influential people are happy with it. Time, on the other hand, is the only true judge of ideas. Things which have stood the test of time are expected to last longer. A year-old book is expected to last another year; a century-old another century. This is called the Lindy Effect.

Virtue Signaling

If your private life conflicts with your intellectual opinion, it cancels your intellectual ideas, not your private life. The practice of publicly expressing opinions or sentiments intended to demonstrate one’s good character or the moral correctness of one’s position on a particular issue has become all too common — but this is usually done without any real skin in the game. Courage is the only virtue you cannot fake. For example, standing up for an unpopular truth — it’s immoral to claim a virtue without living for its direct consequences.

Skin in the Game

When evaluating any piece of advice, financial or otherwise, make sure the advice giver has skin in the game. Do not ask them what they think, ask them what they have in their portfolio.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb



I write reviews of non-fiction books and essays on startups, fitness, tech and design.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Anant Jain

Now: engineering @brexhq. Past: Co-founder @commonlounge, @eagerpanda. @iitdelhi ’12. More at