- Hardcover: 480 pages
- Publisher: Random House; First Edition edition (April 17 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781400063512
- ISBN-13: 978-1400063512
- ASIN: 1400063515
- Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 3.8 x 24.2 cm
- Shipping Weight: 748 g
- Average Customer Review: 53 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #55,965 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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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!
Talib labels these surprise revaluations;Black Swans. These are game changing ideas. Things that in the past, could never be considered possible.
Talib lists all sorts of examples of Black Swans. Most of the examples, will make for very good reading.
This was a very interesting book. Talib however, does have some very sharp opinions. Talib appears to suffer from some form of arrogance. It is quite possible, that the perspective reader may be offended.
Despite my criticism, the author does make some interesting points about unpredictable events and randomness. To be sure, randomness, chaos and freak accidents do affect history and our daily lives, but to say that this is all there is... The narcissistic tone of the book overshadows much of what the author tries to communicate.
Finally, he overuses cute (and often contrived) stories as examples instead of sticking to his points directly. I am disappointed. The Wisdom of Crowds is a far better pick on a related topic.
I suppose Mr. Taleb deserves kudos for tackling a topic, probability and statistics, which is most easily described in mathematical terms without once resorting to mathematical formulae and for minimizing the use of figures and graphs but any benefit is quickly nullified by Mr. Taleb's opaque writing style and his tendency to wander off into unrelated side issues. That wandering feels suspiciously like padding.
Happily, arrogance and abstruse writing does not mean Mr. Taleb is incorrect or does not have something important to say. He does. His main point, that the Gaussian (or Bell) Curve is overused which leads to damaging errors, is well taken and we can all profit from the knowledge. Plus there are a few other nuggets such as his discussion of common shortcomings in critical thinking. I might have nudged my rating up to four stars if Mr. Taleb had managed to include a few concrete examples of applying his black swan model to real, everyday situations but, alas, with one or two exceptions, they are conspicuously absent; surprising, perhaps, from an author claiming to be a "bottom-up" sceptical empiricist.
I wish I could recommend an alternate author or book that covered Mr. Taleb's topic more agreeably but I can't. Proceed with caution.