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Fat Tails vs Phase Transitions

Re: what I think is the folly of imagining Saddam is a car whose problem can be traced to a faulty carburetor or fuel injection system:

Marcos Carreira suggested that it may be more appropriate to examine “group think and its deviations from standard behavior”, and mentioned the book

Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen

I don’t quite know why, but this approach sounds reasonable to me, to analyze pre-WWII Germany’s cultural ‘abnormalities’ with a view to figuring out how to avoid them. Yet it seems to me close to foolish to imagine one can do the same for Saddam.

Saddam is part of a fat tail, too far out to understand and prevent by some imagined diagnosis alone. Germany is an ensemble that collectively underwent a phase transition. You can’t control the velocity of individual molecules in a gas, but the phase transition itself satisfies much simpler and more universal equations of state.

Meanwhile, someone pointed me to the quite strange richarddawkins.net…

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