anti-résumé, 2015

(Not a portrait of me by Frederic Leighton.)

Name: Not Clive James, Not Robin Hanson

Age: Missed most of the Twentieth Century

Address: Almost nowhere, really.

Nationality: Not a great deal. I don't participate in Scottish culture any more than I have to by merit of enculturation.

Languages: I can't speak Gaelic, Spanish, Cornish, Saxon, nor many many others...

Non-interests: Sport, war, conlangs, Tarski, collecting anything, scale-modelling, Dr Who, surfing, bell-ringing, spelunking.

Education lapses:
At Secondary level:
No economics, no philosophy, no gender, no business studies, no psychology, no politics, no French, no Chinese, no grammar (properly). I'm also quite bad at geography.

Tertiary: No law, no anthropology, no engineering, no geology, no medicals, no German philosophy to speak of.

Code: I don't know any functional languages (unless you count the pariah JavaScript). I've never used a static code analyser, or rigorous optimisation without one. I have never proved my program. I have not yet contributed to the mainline of FOSS.

I've made definitive surveys of no field - nor any phenomenon, physical, cultural, or other. I know nothing of Nussbaum, I am ignorant of Avenarius, I haven't a clue about Conway. I've contributed nothing to either the mainstream nor dissenting schools of economic thought.

I've never read Hemingway, Goethe, Brookner, Isherwood - nor anything from the Harlem Renaissance (nor much of the Euro Renaissance) - nor Houellebecq, Duras, Vargos Llosa, Thackaray, Musil, Bainbridge, Naipaul, that Girl With the Dragon stuff, Zola, Behn, Updike, Wolfe, Richardson, Barth, Byatt, Bellow, Brecht, Kazantzakis, Paz - almost no Classical stuff - Smollett, Wharton, Trollope, Nin, neither Amis, Eco, Roth, Coetzee, Tóibín, no Christie or Hammett, nothing I could afterwards identify as "chicklit" (except Austen?) and, despite heroic efforts, I have not yet successfully climbed a Pynchon.

There are also a vast number of things I do not know that I don't know about. (I imagine.)

References who don't know me at all: Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Bruce Campbell, Johann Hari, Deirdre McCloskey, Abdul Fattah Younis al Abidi, John Worrall, Guo Qian, James Corden.


When we compete for jobs, or lovers, or whatever, there's pressure on us to distort upwards, to portray ourselves as positively as possible (if not more). We are unable to disclose everything about ourselves - it'd take too long - so selection is obviously not wrong in itself. But there's a kind of anxiety that that our approach to our CVs is mirrored in our approach to life.

It becomes the job of rivals to point out our limitations and lacks; being clear about negative facts about oneself - a prerequisite for avoiding delusion - is seen as unnecessary modesty.

The scepticism that might save us gets eroded by all kinds of things: by the market operation of selling oneself, by our epistemic frailty, and above all by psychological foibles. Nassim Taleb has spent his life pointing out that this leads to a dangerous fragility in our theories and lives; all the way down to our metaphysics, all the way back to the MRCA.
It is useful and impressing to be able to list one's strengths. To have an eye on one's weakness is noble.


  1. Pioneering the use of AHRXML in the AHR industry.

    "Who would we *not* want to hire for this position?"

  2. You sound like an interesting guy to talk to. If you'd like to talk, contact me: rhanson@gmu.edu