Nobody knows anything (much)

Way back when I was young, shortly after the invention of the printing press, a book appeared by Hollywood screenwriter William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Princess Bride, Marathon Man, Misery etc). It was called “Adventures in the Screentrade” and it was very good. I think I got it in a remainder shop in Edinburgh. In either that one or another- “Which Lie Did I Tell?” – he came up with his famous rule about Hollywood “Nobody knows anything.”

It’s a good memento mori (or perhaps memento incompetenci?) and John Authers authors a similar piece on the back of the Financial Times fund management (FTfm) supplement for December 15th-“Annus horribilis for the star investors”. Resisting manfully the temptation to say something like “yes, these star investors were annuses,” I’ll simply say that youcan only buck the mean for so long…

On the broader subject of incompetence (and especially incompetent people’s inability to perceive evidence that proves their incompetence), check out the Dunning-Kruger effect…

Of course, such radical epistemological doubt can be overplayed. Pilots do fly planes, surgeons do perform operations etc etc. There’s quite a good riff in a David Lodge book about it. One of the later ones… hold on… Thinks. I think (ho ho)


About dwighttowers

Below the surface...
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