Anti-fragility and the Strength of “Fractality”

In quest of stronger systems and tighter bonds


In Anti-fragile: Things that gain from disorder, Nassim Taleb introduced, to a wide audience, the persistence of fractals. What is a fractal?

Fractal patterns, which are associated with Fibonacci and the golden
 ratio, appear abundantly in plants and other natural phenomena.

Natural systems also can exhibit fractality.
I think that elements of human life and behavior can be fractal, and so do some psychological researchers (quoted below).
In the past 10 to 20 years, researchers in psychology have been finding increasing examples of fractal patterns across each of the domains of psychology: Including intentional behaviors, visual search, and speech patterns. In my own lab within the past few years we have found that interpersonal relationships are organized as fractals…
Why do systems do this? There are many reasons. Essentially, fractal systems have many opportunities for growth, change and re-organization. Yet they also are very robust. They maintain their coherence; they hold together well, even under tough circumstances. They are balanced in this respect, between order and chaos. They are simple, yet also very complex. …
Self-organizing critical systems are also very good at connecting, both internally and also to other surrounding systems.
As noted above, fractality is a structure of strength. That’s why it showed up in Taleb’s Anti-fragile.
The anti-fragile, according to Taleb, is that which gets stronger through shocks. It’s the true opposite of fragile (as robust is merely high tolerance to shocks). Fractal structures and systems are self-reinforcing by way of being self-imitating.

We need anti-fragile soils.

See the source imageWe need soils which produce plants that need less assistance, plants which nourish humans and livestock with less supplementation and pharmaceuticals.

We don’t necessarily get to have anti-fragile soils and farmlands without also having anti-fragile farms & farmers.

The transformation of agriculture into regenerative approaches of management are best fit for an entire society of anti-fragile systems.

Look at those flower patterns. See how tightly the blossoms are packed.

Fractal structures are strong, in part, because there are no gaps. In a pattern so tight, the loss of one part can be quickly filled by another falling or swelling into the former’s place. The result is maximization

The fractal blueprint is not only a blueprint for farms—for maximization of photosynthesis, “stacked” enterprises, time management.

It’s a blueprint for bringing us all closer together.

Yep, I went there. Full hippy.

Not closeness for closeness sake (though, maybe that’s desirable), but to gain the efficiency or delight seeing each other face-to-face again.

There’s a different kind of efficiency that went by the wayside during the rise of globalism and two-day shipping type of efficiency. It’s the efficiency of having most of what one needs already near—and the chain of supply remaining intact, because not only is supply nearby, it’s also nearly nearby—in all directions. And next to nearly nearby, and so on.

Instead of a food source map like this…

food map

… We’d see a map of thousands of short and narrow arrows.

In application, I’m talking about the return of local meat (food). I’m suggesting that there is massive upside to shrinking the length of the food supply chain, and creating many more chains.

That’s part of why I’m doing Promote-A-Goat—to start the first (not really the first) of a number of new chains—to create new bonding, new fractality for an anti-fragile food system.


Best wishes,

Cary Yates




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