The Bed of Procrustes

A man with hammer, sees every problem like a nail. Nassim Nicholas Taleb, in his book The Bed of Procrustes, writes –

Procrustes, in Greek mythology, was the cruel owner of a small estate in Corydalus in Attica. He had a peculiar sense of hospitality: he abducted travelers, provided them with a generous dinner, then invited them to spend the night in a rather special bed. He wanted the bed to fit the traveler to perfection. Those who were too tall had their legs chopped off with a sharp hatchet; those who were too short were stretched.

We humans, facing limits of knowledge, and things we do not observe, the unseen and the unknown, resolve the tension by squeezing life and the world into crisp commoditized ideas, reductive categories, specific vocabularies, and prepackaged narratives, which, on occasion, has explosive consequences.

Source: The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

It represents Taleb’s view of modern civilization’s hubristic side effects — modifying humans to satisfy technology, blaming reality for not fitting economic models, inventing diseases to sell drugs, defining intelligence as what can be tested in a classroom, and convincing people that employment is not slavery.

You can read the review of this book here and here.

 

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