Lebanese–American writer Nassim Nicholas Taleb is one of my heroes.
I won’t go into the details of why here but if you’ve read any of his books we can be friends.
I’ve been thinking about Taleb and my experience of the meaning of tikanga – the right way of doing things.
Taleb doesn’t write about tikanga, but he does write about grandmothers.
Here’s a quote from his latest book which I read recently:
Your grandmother vs. academic researcher: who should you trust?
If you hear advice from a grandmother or elders, odds are that it works 90 per cent of the time. On the other hand, in part because of scientism and academic prostitution, in part because the world is hard, if you read anything by psychologists and behavioral scientists, odds are that it works at less than 10 percent, unless it is has also been covered by the grandmother and the classics, in which case why would you need a psychologist?
This makes perfect sense to my Pākehā worldview as a way of understanding tikanga.
Something doesn’t have to be backed up by scientific research to work. Also, if something does work I don’t necessarily need to know why.
Taleb has a filter that he uses when thinking about the world called The Lindy Effect.
To paraphrase, The Lindy Effect states that if something (a behaviour, object, job, tikanga) has been around for a long time, then chances are it will continue to endure for at least an equal amount of time.
In other words, things that have stood the test of time, have done so for good reasons (such as that they work) even if we’re not sure on why.
Check out the book. You’ll love him or hate him.
He’s fine with either.