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The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbableby Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Synopses & Reviews
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 more predictable, than it was. The astonishing success of Google was a black swan; so was 9/11. For Nassim Nicholas Taleb, black swans underlie almost everything about our world, from the rise of religions to events inour own personal lives.
Why 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 theyshould 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 foolourselves into thinking we know more 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, Talebexplains everything we know about what we don't know. He offers surprisingly simple tricks for dealing with black swans and benefiting from them.
Elegant, startling, and universal in itsapplications 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 subjectsranging from cognitive science to business to probability theory. The Black Swan is a landmark book-itself a black swan.
*2nd Edition, With a new essay: On Robustness and Fragility
From the Hardcover edition.
Examines the role of the unexpected, discussing why improbable events are not anticipated or understood properly, and how humans rationalize the black swan phenomenon to make it appear less random.
A black swan is an event, positive or negative, that is deemed improbable yet causes massive consequences. In this groundbreaking and prophetic book, Taleb shows in a playful way that Black Swan events explain almost everything about our world, and yet we—especially the experts—are blind to them. In this second edition, Taleb has added a new essay, On Robustness and Fragility, which offers tools to navigate and exploit a Black Swan world.
*2nd Edition, With a new essay: "On Robustness and Fragility"
About the Author
Nassim Nicholas Taleb has devoted his life to immersing himself in problems of luck, randomness, human error, probability, and the philosophy of knowledge. He managed to transform his interests into three successful careers, as a man of letters, businessman-trader-risk manager, and university professor. Although he spends most of his time as a fl
Table of Contents
Prologue — Umberto Eco's antilibrary, or how we seek validation. The apprenticeship of an empirical skeptic ; Yevgenia's black swan ; The speculator and the prostitute ; One thousand and one days, or how not to be a sucker ; Confirmation shmonfirmation! ; The narrative fallacy ; Living in the antechamber of hope ; Giacomo Casanova's unfailing luck : the problem of silent evidence ; The Ludic fallacy, or the uncertainty of the nerd — We just can't predict. The scandal of prediction ; How to look for bird poop ; Epistemocracy, a dream ; Appelles the Painter, or what do you do if you cannot predict? — Those gray swans of Extremistan. From Mediocristan to Extremistan and back ; The bell curve, that great intellectual fraud ; The aesthetics of randomness ; Locke's madmen, or bell curves in the wrong places ; The uncertainty of the phony — The end. Half and half, or how to get even with the black swan — Epilogue : Yevgenia's white swans — Postscript essay: on robustness an fragility, deeper philosophical and empirical reflections. Learning from mother nature, the oldest and the wisest ; Why I do all this walking, or how systems become fragile ; Margaritas ante porcos ; Asperger and the ontological black swan ; (Perhaps) the most useful problem in the history of modern philosophy ; Fourth quadrant, the solution to that most useful of problems ; What to do with the fourth quadrant ; Ten principles for a black-swan-robust society ; Amor fati: how to become indestructible.
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