When I was in school, they still taught the central limit theorem which explains why so many error distributions are "normal". Our world provides us with millions of examples in everyday life where the standard deviation of our experiences is the best statistic to estimate the probability of future events.
What you do with a statistic is what counts. It's easy to look at the standard deviation and estimate the probability that the conclusion was reached by chances of the draw, though it takes some practice to develop your intuition. It is imbedded in our language when we talk of "6 sigma" reliability or " 4 sigma" thinkers. Anyone who thinks he is a scientist should understand this!
Mr. Taleb may be working in a field where normal distributions are rare, but the probability is he is either lying or poorly educated.