- Paperback: 480 pages
- Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; 2nd ed. edition (May 11 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 081297381X
- ISBN-13: 978-0812973815
- Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 2.6 x 20.2 cm
- Shipping Weight: 340 g
- Average Customer Review: 50 customer reviews
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The Black Swan: Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable: With a new section:On Robustness and Fragility Paperback – May 11 2010
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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
About the Author
Nassim Nicholas Taleb has devoted his life to problems of uncertainty, probability, and knowledge. He spent nearly two decades as a businessman and quantitative trader before becoming a full-time philosophical essayist and academic researcher in 2006. Although he spends most of his time in the intense seclusion of his study, or as a flâneur meditating in cafés, he is currently Distinguished Professor of Risk Engineering at New York University’s Polytechnic Institute. His main subject matter is “decision making under opacity”—that is, a map and a protocol on how we should live in a world we don’t understand.
Taleb’s books have been published in thirty-three languages.
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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.
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