The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable Hardcover – Apr 17 2007
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In business and government, major money is spent on prediction. Uselessly, according to Taleb, who administers a severe thrashing to MBA- and Nobel Prize-credentialed experts who make their living from economic forecasting. A financial trader and current rebel with a cause, Taleb is mathematically oriented and alludes to statistical concepts that underlie models of prediction, while his expressive energy is expended on roller-coaster passages, bordering on gleeful diatribes, on why experts are wrong. They neglect Taleb's metaphor of "the black swan," whose discovery invalidated the theory that all swans are white. Taleb rides this manifestation of the unpredicted event into a range of phenomena, such as why a book becomes a best-seller or how an entrepreneur becomes a billionaire, taking pit stops with philosophers who have addressed the meaning of the unexpected and confounding. Taleb projects a strong presence here that will tempt outside-the-box thinkers into giving him a look. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Praise for Nassim Nicholas Taleb
“The most prophetic voice of all.”—GQ
Praise for The Black Swan
“[A book] that altered modern thinking.”—The Times (London)
“A masterpiece.”—Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired, author of The Long Tail
“Idiosyncratically brilliant.”—Niall Ferguson, Los Angeles Times
“The Black Swan changed my view of how the world works.”—Daniel Kahneman, Nobel laureate
“[Taleb writes] in a style that owes as much to Stephen Colbert as it does to Michel de Montaigne. . . . We eagerly romp with him through the follies of confirmation bias [and] narrative fallacy.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Hugely enjoyable—compelling . . . easy to dip into.”—Financial Times
“Engaging . . . The Black Swan has appealing cheek and admirable ambition.”—The New York Times Book Review
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Top Customer Reviews
I consider myself an innovator in economic projection disciplines - having created the world's first computer-based real estate investment analysis software decades ago - and I've always been aware that the only thing certain is that real life will be quite different from any projection I make. The best outcome from my projections will be a bracketing of what the future will hold. And, having 50 years experience in the real estate investment and development business, I've my own stable of ugly black swans that have kicked the hell out of my best laid plans and projections.
Well done Taleb! I am personally and professionally better for reading and considering your fine work!
Taleb discusses when and where Black Swans (unknown, unlikely, but powerful events) are likely to occur and what we should do about them. If they are expected to be positive (e.g., scientific discoveries) then we should do things to maximize our exposure to them (i.e., have diverse and open research groups). If they are negative, we should do things to guard ourselves against them (e.g., purchase insurance, temper average predictions, etc.).Read more ›
I am also disturbed by (occasionally personal) attacks on people who don't share the author's opinions, name dropping (which the author criticizes in others), by inaccuracies (in my view even mistakes), and ridiculous statements, probably exaggerations intended to emphasize a point. I am uncomfortable with the fact that although the book promises wide applicability of the central ideas (and I agree with that) it much too often slips into illustrating and justifying the points on examples of financial markets and achieving personal wealth.
In summary, I enjoyed the interesting points that the author makes, but the style and orientation of the book don't agree with me.
Most recent customer reviews
This book is the epitome of self-aggrandizement. The author dismisses entire professions, e.g., philosophy professors and most academics in general, arguing that no patterns in... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Ben
Taleb provides us with a very interesting book that is perhaps more interesting than useful. His main argument is pretty well known - infrequent, high impact events determine much... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Rodge
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