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Initial post: May 9, 2010, 4:17:39 AM PDT
I have only now read the book by Mr. Taleb. And only did read it so that I would exchange some ideas about it with a friend of mine that offered it to me as gift. I am appalled at the superficiality of some of the comments that Mr. Taleb makes. One in particular got my stupiffied attention.
"Through his construct of l'homme moyen physique and l'homme moyen moral, the physically and morally average man, Quetelet created a range of deviance from the average that positions all people either to the left or right of center and, truly, punishes those who find themselves occupying the extreme left or right of the statistical bell curve. They became abnormal. How this inspired Marx, who cites Quetelet regarding this concept of an average or normal man, is obvious: "Societal deviations in terms of the distribution of wealth for example, must be minimized," he wrote in Das Kapital".
The Black Swan (Chapter 15 - The Bell Curve, That Great Intellectual Fraud, page 242)

As if Karl Marx - in Das Kapital (an analysis of the capitalist system) of all places - had ever proposed (or dreamed of...) a society with all men (physically and morally) equal to that "homme moyen" of trivial statistical analysis... The only references to be found, in Das Kapital, to Monsieur Quételet, are the following ones...
But heed Mr. Taleb's advice, be skeptical. Do not trust what I write here. Check for yourselves...

"Unquestionably, there is a good deal of difference between the value of one man's labour and that of another from strength, dexterity, and honest application. But I am quite sure, from my best observation, that any given five men will, in their total, afford a proportion of labour equal to any other five within the periods of life I have stated; that is, that among such five men there will be one possessing all the qualifications of a good workman, one bad, and the other three middling, and approximating to the first and the last. So that in so small a platoon as that of even five, you will find the full complement of all that five men can earn." (E. Burke, l. c. p. 15, 16). Compare Quételet on the average individual.
Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Vol. I. The Process of Capitalist Production; Marx, Karl
Part IV, Chapter 13

"If one studies price lists during a certain long period, and if one subtracts the cases, in which the real value of commodities is altered by a change in the productivity of labor, and likewise the cases, in which the process of production has been previously disturbed by natural or social accidents, one will be surprised, in the first place, by the relatively narrow limits of the fluctuations, and, in the second place, by the regularity of their mutual compensation. The same domination of the regulating averages will be found here, which Quételet pointed out in the case of social phenomena. If the equalization of the values of commodities into prices of production does not meet any obstacles, then the rent resolves itself into differential rent, that is, it is limited to the equalization of the surplus-profits, which would be given to some of the capitalists by the regulating prices of production, but which are then appropriated by the landlords".
Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Vol. III. The Process of Capitalist Production as a Whole;
Part VII, Chapter 50
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The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Paperback - January 1, 2008)
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