sâmbătă, 12 mai 2012

[...] quants don't have very good social skills [...]

"We are currently offering one course in ethics, taken by 10-20% of students. What would happen if we offered an entire semester with only ethical courses? I suspect many of our students would have serious problems passing those. If they had to engage with complex ethical issues in debates … many would fail. These are people with a strong mathematical bent, the future 'quants', many with mild Asperger-like qualities.

I am a quant myself, of sorts. I'd say the disconnect between quants and the rest of the world is an important key to understanding the financial sector today. If you allow me to generalise:

Quants are extremely good at recognising patterns and structures, and at working in very detailed and systematic ways. Quants feel a strong psychological need for those structures, too, and they tend to presume the existence of such structures and patterns for the world to behave predictably, in ways that can be modelled.

Quants don't have very good social skills. If you react to a quant in a way that requires empathy, this is difficult for them. Say two students are chatting over at the coffee machine. The quant professor recognises his student and stops to say 'look, I really didn't think your latest paper was good enough'. Then he walks on.

For most people this would be hard to take; wrong time, wrong choice of words. The quant would fail to see the problem, as in his mind the professor has simply made use of an opportunity he saw to communicate something that needed communicating.

The thing to take away from this: quants are more likely than others to miss certain aspects of social reality, as their brains are less attuned to them. When they then build a model, they are less likely to incorporate those aspects."

Joris Luyendijk interviews a London-based Economics Professor in The Guardian.

Courtesy of Hymerion aka Dan Popa, care a dat in noi cu o lista faina de recomandari de lecturi economice.