epub pdf The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly ImprobableAuthor Nassim Nicholas Taleb – Cheapnikeshoes.co

A Black Swan Is A Highly Improbable Event With Three Principal Characteristics It Is Unpredictable It Carries A Massive Impact And, After The Fact, We Concoct An Explanation That Makes It Appear Less Random, And Predictable, Than It Was The Astonishing Success Of Google Was A Black Swan So Was For Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Black Swans Underlie Almost Everything About Our World, From The Rise Of Religions To Events In Our Own Personal LivesWhy Do We Not Acknowledge The Phenomenon Of Black Swans Until After They Occur Part Of The Answer, According To Taleb, Is That Humans Are Hardwired To Learn Specifics When They Should Be Focused On Generalities We Concentrate On Things We Already Know And Time And Time Again Fail To Take Into Consideration What We Don T Know We Are, Therefore, Unable To Truly Estimate Opportunities, Too Vulnerable To The Impulse To Simplify, Narrate, And Categorize, And Not Open Enough To Rewarding Those Who Can Imagine The Impossible For Years, Taleb Has Studied How We Fool Ourselves Into Thinking We Know Than We Actually Do We Restrict Our Thinking To The Irrelevant And Inconsequential, While Large Events Continue To Surprise Us And Shape Our World Now, In This Revelatory Book, Taleb Explains Everything We Know About What We Don T Know He Offers Surprisingly Simple Tricks For Dealing With Black Swans And Benefiting From ThemElegant, Startling, And Universal In Its Applications The Black Swan Will Change The Way You Look At The World Taleb Is A Vastly Entertaining Writer, With Wit, Irreverence, And Unusual Stories To Tell He Has A Polymathic Command Of Subjects Ranging From Cognitive Science To Business To Probability Theory The Black Swan Is A Landmark Book Itself A Black SwanThe Book Also Contains APage GlossaryPages Of Notes And, APage Bibliography In Addition To An Index

10 thoughts on “The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

  1. says:

    This is a book that raises a number of very important questions, but chief among them is definitely the question of how the interplay between a good idea and an insufferable author combine to effect the reading experience This author is an a hole Full stop He s dismissive, chronically insecure, unstructured and hostile towards his detractors He engages in what may be the lowest form of rhetoric by pre emptively attacking any critics even before they ve had the chance to come forward as too stupid or blinkered to follow his argument He s contemptuous towards entire disciplines economics, law, social science without making much attempt to engage with the concepts he s critiquing beyond the broadest levels of generality He s got a huge chip on his shoulder towards the scientific academic establishment especially the Nobel committee try taking a shot every time he makes an off hand, tangential attack on Nobel and you ve made your Friday night Worst of all, he s endlessly digressive, and couches his digressions in the language of capricious genius rather than simple bad writing he hits the occasional sweetnote with these tangents, but if anyone else who has read this thing cover to cover wanted to put a bullet in Yvgenia, feel free to step on up He s hard to like.It s unfortunate, because at the core of all of the go nowhere anecdotes and borderline psychobabble is a good analysis on how people are psychologically and socially ill equipped to handle unexpected outlier events which he persistently, desperately refers to as Black Swans , one of approximately 3000 new bits of not too essential terminology he s trying to appropriate for himself and can t learn from our mistakes It s a wonderful theory for a book one third the length of this one, and I m happy to admit that some of the better moments were probably missed by this reader simply because of the exhaustion of filtering through the surplusage.I am sure that the failure to give this book five or six stars the possibility of a six star rating might itself be something of a Black Swan is due to my own marginal intellect The author has made it clear that any other explanation would be entirely unpredictable.

  2. says:

    This is a great book And, to take a page from Taleb, anyone who doesn t think so is wrong.No, no, there are a number of problems with the book A bit bloated, a bit repetitive And NNT does make the misstep every once and a while To take a very small instance, Taleb bases a short section of the book upon the idea that to be hardened by the Gulag means to become harder or stronger rather than its true meaning of someone who has become inured to certain difficulties, not necessarily stronger because of it.However, this along with other problems are mere quibbles relative to the strengths of this book and, I think it s worth noting that many of the negative reviews on this site base their hostile reactions to Taleb on just such insignificant trifles The Black Swan deals with the fascinating topic of the nature uncertainty and approaches it from a variety of intellectual angles, mainly the psychological blocks that we are both born with and have created for ourselves that prevent our understanding of the improbable the narrative fallacy and the problem of induction the tenuous relationship of cause and effect our reliance on flawed mathematical models the expect problem Each one of these discussions reinforces his main argument but captivate independently as they are insights to the way we process information.Taleb also references numerous thinkers that are not as well known in the popular consciousness and provides wonderful anecdotes and examples from their life and work that illustrate his points and entertain the reader.Many other reviewers comment on the Taleb s unique style arrogant and aggressive Just because he s arrogant, however, doesn t mean he s wrong this man has spent most of his life dedicated to this subject and it shows And his antagonistic style seems appropriate it s hard to go against the establishment, even if your goal is truth people aren t going to believe you He attacks the Nobel Prize in Economics because according to him, the financial models created by the prizewinners that that Swedish committee has rewarded have done a great deal of harm to people s understanding of the true economic risks involved Preposterous Sacrilege These are the exclamations of narrow minded thinkers who have yet to examine the evidence thoroughly.I, personally, found Taleb s style to be amusing and engaging It reflects a true passion and dedication to the beliefs he expounds in the book, beliefs that are worth some attention If we live in a time of uncertainty, it s a good thing to understand what that really means.

  3. says:

    I can summarize this book in two words Shit happens.Actually, I should be fair since the author spent 300 pages laying out his beliefs and arguing his conclusions The real summary of this book should be Shit happens often than you think.The author, Taleb, rails against economics, most philosophers, and the way we incorporate news to allow us to make sense of events and everyday happenings He wants us to unlearn the way we think and learn, while destroying the modern beliefs in statistics and at the same time eviscerating the nobel prize winners who got us to where we are today.While the author has valid points, his writing style oscillates between boring, repetitive, and just plain bad Plus he uses the pronouns I and me often than any other author I have read Perhaps he is using his gigantic ego to prove the existence of fat tails in the standard bell curve and thus exhibit directly the central thesis which is that the Gaussian curve does not hold up in our modern extremistan society and trust me that that sentence is funny if you read the book.The author does understand his limitation to some degree and even suggests skipping certain chapters, though to be honest, the chapters he recommends skipping I found to be the best in the book.I do recommend this for the ideas It is worth a read skim for anyone interested in statistics, economics, managing money, or just generally intellectually curious.

  4. says:

    First, a disclaimer I am, professionally, a statistician I do not have a Ph.D in my field because I feel that statisticians with Ph.D s are devoid of practicality and usefulness to the real world I work at a factory where I assist engineers in better understanding how processes work and making things better I generally feel that I make a worthwhile contribution to the world I bought and read this book because it was critical of statisticians I do not believe in surrounding myself with yes men in the form of books and actively seek to challenge my personal beliefs through the things I read and study Also, the only fields of statistics that I have ever avoided are time series forecasting and actuarial science incredibly boring.NNT as he loves to refer to himself in the book is an idiot Actually, he s worse than an idiot, he s a charlatan of the worst order If I were NNT I wouldn t have to defend that statement at all, pretentious phonies reading this to feel intelligent about themselves would nod in agreement at the wisdom I ve laid at their feet But I m not NNT and I believe in substantiating otherwise baseless claims.One of the first things criticized in this book is the narrative for conveying information Yet that is all NNT does in this book is lay out narrative No philosopher is quoted, no idea co opted without some flourishing tale of how they were never appreciated despite their obvious intelligence or of how they were recognized for their genius but the cold, unending march of human forgetfulness relegated them to the annals of history until someone else rediscovered the idea and NNT bought the original book at a used bookstore in some non American city that has an air of academia to it.Later in the book, NNT makes one of his few cogent points I ll chalk it up to luck on his part Silent evidence is a major problem everywhere we look and in every field sadly The negative studies are almost never published, the failures are not chronicled, etc The hard thing about silent evidence is that it s almost never available at all and we rarely recognize that we re not seeing it Yet NNT frequently ignores silent evidence He discusses casinos and all the money they put into preventing cheating something that, apparently, comes from mediocristan and is easily predictable but mocks them for doing so because the biggest losses they d suffered in recent history had nothing to do with cheating Apparently NNT failed to recognize that perhaps the systems in place so effectively prevented cheating that it was no longer a potential source of lost income Perhaps if he had looked further back in time he would have seen the financial cost of cheating It would be like criticizing a store for employing anti shoplifting techniques when their biggest loses came from a lost shipment, a dishonest accountant and some other unpredictable and essentially unavoidable problem The suggestion from NNT must be that dealing with the things we can is stupid and we should focus on the things that we cannot predict and therefore cannot prevent.NNT spends a whole chapter discussing luck and how every successful economist, banker, investor or other scalable professional is successful not due to skill, but to luck I m not going to debate that as the entire premise renders coherent arguments null and void you cannot disprove the assertion that someone is chronically lucky, well played NNT However, this luck doesn t apply to his favorite philosophers NNT spends a chapter lauding Poincare for being a thinking mathematician because he didn t rely on rigor, but rather intuition NNT lambastes other mathematicians for criticizing Poincare by calling his techniques hand waving which he decides is due to childishness on the part of the other nerd mathematicians But success due to intuition is not success due to skill and is therefore not success to be recognized or rewarded at least, that s the case with bankers and investors NNT doesn t understand the reason why mathematicians and other hard scientists don t like hand waving is because there s no way to know if it s success or luck, it isn t repeatable and it isn t verifiable Also, NNT ignores the silent evidence of intuition He looks to Poincare as a savior and steward of his profession while ignoring the unmarked graves of all the other thinking mathematicians who failed miserably in their intuitive hand waving.For all of his experimental proof offered in defense of claims about how we understand, learn and process things, NNT never gives than one study as evidence although he will claim, without a footnote or other reference that many other studies have verified that particular claim He accepts these theories as facts and bases large portions of his argument upon them, yet he criticizes doctors, biologists and other scientists for using experimental evidence to make theories on why things work instead of simply accepting that they do work How many times does he bring up anchoring as a theory for why things happen, yet he cannot accept the fact that perhaps birds and humans use different brain regions to perform similar tasks NNT at one point is criticizing the models that trader and economists have made to predict the stock market and quotes a study that compared the model s performance to that of the naive model today s value is my guess for tomorrow which concluded that, statistically sophisticated or complex models DO NOT NECESSARILY provide accurate forecasts than simpler ones page 154, emphasis added The study didn t prove that complex models are no different from simple ones, just that not all of them were better but no claim that they were ever worse So why would I get rid of something that doesn t do worse but could do better If I buy a lottery ticket that is guaranteed to make me my money back and could make me than what I paid, why wouldn t I buy it Now, I understand that predicting the future is foolhardy, and I m not saying that it s something we should put a lot of stock into pun intended but past information can give us a general idea about the future, even if it doesn t give us a great one.NNT passes himself off as some cool headed, rational thinker who sees beyond the noise and chaos of the world and invites the world to join him on the greener side of the pasture But nearly all of his arguments are based on contradictions with other arguments that he has made Further, the remaining arguments that are defensible are impossible to disprove because they impossible to prove Much like a believing person who argues that without empirical proof of man evolving from lower life or of the big bang, the scientist cannot be right, NNT argues that because models are not perfect, no one can use them to any benefit.The book is altogether too long given the core point of the book which is this the most important things that happen or that don t happen are unknowable Because we cannot predict the future with certainty or even near certainty, we should not even try but rather just do whatever the heck we want because sometimes it s just as good.

  5. says:

    The first time through, I listened to this book with my husband, usually while I was cooking Although I tried to stop and mark important passages, I ended up thinking the book was not very systematic The second time through, chapter by chapter, the method in his madness is apparent I continued to think Taleb is a popularizer than an innovator But even if so, that s not so shabby He s trying to revolutionize the way we think, and the we rehearse that, the better Nassim Nicholas Taleb is working the same territory as Daniel Kahneman in Thinking, Fast and Slow While they both have us investigating our thinking, for Kahneman, it s to make us own up, while Taleb has direct emphasis on avoiding disaster.He would like for us to realize our overuse of normal curve thinking, which makes us minimize risk and have no expectations out of the ordinary like the turkey whose experience all goes to show how human beings love him and care about him and prove it by feeding him until Thanksgiving day arrives and he s dinner.The normal curve tells us that the further out from the mean we go, the rarity of unusual events rapidly increases Fine when it applies We are not going to meet any 20 foot tall people or anyone living to 150 years old But the normal curve often doesn t apply We can t predict which books will be best sellers or how how the sales count will go on one of them We can t predict when a war will occur or just how one will transpire The world is not fair Unfairness and inequality are no epiphenomena but part and parcel of reality Even in evolution, the fittest survive, thrive, and have offspring Take writing before literacy, every town crier and performer had his day With written methods, all the little guys are out of work Then, one book may become a bestseller It leaves even the other books in the dust And when the author of the bestseller writes another book, it ll get attention than those who didn t write a bestseller.When we think normal curves apply but they don t, we are confusing what the world is like with how we would like it to be We are shoving reality into the Procrustean bed of our idealized thinking That distorts our vision of reality By keeping an open mind, at least, we won t be walking blindly into risk We can t prevent the unexpected, but we can at least turn the black swans into grey swans We are like the 13th fairy at the Sleeping Beauty s christening We can t do away with the angry fairy s curse, but we can mitigate it Grey swan, not black.The difficulty with many kinds of prognosticators in our world is that they are spinning theories that purport to predict, but their theories are stories, and their stories connect the plot points and only sound as though they are predictive We are lulled or, even worse, misled We listen according to our preferred belief system We listen to what we want to hear confirmatory listening We actively cherry pick reality to make it fit what we want to believe The solution Try the opposite, finding something that doesn t fit A plethora of confirmatory evidence is exactly what the turkey had before Thanksgiving Taleb lauds two unexpected types of practitioners military people and financial managers They will know if their predictions are wrong or right If they are wrong, they ll have to face the music Their predictions matter Not so the world of talking heads and stuffed shirts they just adjust their stories and keep on going.What those stories are, are predictions of the past.If you see an ice cube sitting on a table you can predict the future it will melt into a little puddle of water But if you see a puddle on the table, and that s all you see, there could be a thousand stories of what it is and how it came to be there The correct explanation may be 1001 or one which will never be found.It could be that angry old fairy, melted.As I said, most of the stories are not explanations But theories are sticky Once you have one you have a hard time seeing beyond it remembering that sometimes no theory is best, if the theory is wrong So, he recommends an empirical approach with art and craft, a less grand theory, and always an eye toward outcomes.Right at the end it occurred to me that this is religion He tells you how to sustain yourself in the absence of worldly support, how to stand up to others and say your piece, how to wait and be patient, and about the merits of surrounding yourself with like minded souls.To close, a rousing rendition of Kipling s If He can t teach like Kahneman, but he gets it said.

  6. says:

    This book has diminishing returns on the time spent reading it Taleb s jeremiad is directed against well everyone who is not as enlightened as he is I trudged through this book because well everyone is reading it and enlightened people should know how to comment on it There, I did it Now I can look down on all those people out there who aren t enlightened like Taleb And now, me.Taleb is actually on to something important if you can tolerate his self importance enough to filter his verbage to get his good ideas A central idea is that we assume everything in the world is Gaussian and then we base all our decisions about life on our Gaussian models But the significant, life changing, society changing, events are outside the Gaussian Things like 9 11 They belong to Extremestan, not Mediocristan The ideas are interesting Many are quite compelling But it really seems Taleb s main point is everyone else is an idiot It seems the details why are secondary to that point.I did find quite useful a good line of thought regarding the importance of narrative in grasping truth We are so drawn to narrative, that all retained true facts must fit into our constructed narrative Other data are ignored or made to fit We need to be on the watch for data that disproves rather than confirms our story And perhaps we ought to learn better how to understand and speak in story Mmm God himself, in the person of Jesus, communicated truth in parables narratives No one else seems to have caught on Except Taleb, of course.

  7. says:

    Taleb is a pretty good writer, but I thought this was a very uneven book As I read it I was constantly alternating between Wow, that s a really great insight, a great way of presenting it and Gee, who doesn t realize that , or even That just seems flat out wrong.It s a book that should have been read by the quantitative analysts quants working for the hedge funds and investment banks in early 2008 but it probably wouldn t have made much difference in the financial melt down that followed The problem with all their quantitative analysis was, as Taleb rightly points out, that it assumed that everything that could happen in the markets belonged to the domain of bell curve events, and that hence probabilities could be computed for any possible market outcome But Black Swan events very rare, not even things we think about happening, and not linked to the factors that determine day to day market swings do occur, they are of course unpredictable, and they can have massive effects Some sorts of unpredictable events such as unexpected conflict flareups, deaths of influential national leaders are not Black Swan events because they are events we know about, and they are not really unexpected only the timing is in doubt Others, the real Black Swans, such as 9 11 and the derivatives bubble, have effects that play out over years.But really, other than as a cautionary tale for those whose job it is to predict unpredictable things on a daily basis, these observations probably don t surprise most people who have thought much about the nature of reality and our grasp of the future No one that I know owns a crystal ball Without one even broad outlines of the future, that we believe are pretty certain, still have an element of risk uncertainty and perhaps a significant element than we realize.As the esteemed Donald not Trump, the other one pointed out, in one of his rare truly insightful comments, there are the unknowns that we know about, and the unknowns that we don t know about It s the latter part of reality where the Black Swans live Of course, they also live in Australia, which is how the phrase got its meaning.

  8. says:

    I stopped reading this because the author is so pompous and annoying.

  9. says:

    If you skipped your Systems, Statistics, or Random Variables classes in college, or if you think you know than everyone else on Wall Street, then read this book It will reaffirm what you already know To the rest of you this book will reaffirm what you thought you knew when you were 5 or 6with an updated vocabulary I put this book down after the first chapter, but thought I would give it another chance, that I was being unfair When I read the second chapter which is a metaphor for what Taleb thinks is him I puked in my shirt This man is the most conceited person I think I ve discovered through reading his garbage hypothesis If I met Taleb, I would recommend that he read some other theories on random variables why does he use Gaussian distribution as the only example of random distribution , systems theory, and the scientific theory He apparently was sleeping though these discussions So, not only was this book difficult to read due to the fact that Taleb was obsessed with how right he was, but the missing details and theories and general disregard for EVERYTHING that happened before him forced me to close this book, hand it to my roommate to sell on , take a few days to cool off, and then write this review Thank God I am not an editor.

  10. says:

    This review will be comprised of two parts a review of the ideas presented and a review of the way in which it is written A The ideasThere is no question here, Taleb is an erudite and intelligent scholar His take on epistomology and the scientific method breathe fresh air into the subject and gloss it with some 21st century context.It would be difficult for me to overstate the importance of the black swan problem in modern life and the degree to which we are, as societies, unaware of its impact However, anybody with half a background in statistics, chaos theory or the philosophy of science will have encountered most of the concepts in this book before and will have cogitated at length over them Still, Taleb s text acts both as a refresher course and a collection of intelligent new perspectives on the subject which make for a decent think a thon For that reason somebody with an interest should give this book a go B The executionThis book could have been a third of its length Taleb comes across as insufferable and fustian His one page per topic writing style flits between ideas without exploring or explaining them properly The narrative is disjoint and underdeveloped Only at the end of the book does he even begin to make some positive suggestions for replacing the intellectual institutions he rightly criticises Anybody who has read Richard Dawkins will be familiar with the arrogance with which Taleb states his claims and dismisses the thinking of others It is almost enough to make one toss the book away.So I gave this book two stars I valued the content but it is most definitely not groundbreaking and it most definitely is not well written Fooled by randomness is slightly better.