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The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable


The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable Cover

ISBN13: 9781400063512
ISBN10: 1400063515
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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jsharf, January 2, 2010 (view all comments by jsharf)
An important book that should change the way we think about markets and social phenomena as a whole. The author shows that large price movements are both more common and more damaging that we think, but that they're so far outside our normal experience that we're psychologically unequipped to expect them. Our mathematics that we're developed to manage risk is also deeply flawed, and has led to a number of market crashes in the last decade.

There's virtually no mathematics in the book, and it's easily accessible to laymen.
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David Myers, January 1, 2010 (view all comments by David Myers)
Leaves us no longer trapped in the 19th century probabilistic thinking and makes us aware of the discontinuous nature of human events.
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aunt dracula, September 28, 2008 (view all comments by aunt dracula)
This book presents some compelling arguments for changing the way we typically think about large-impact events. N.N. Taleb explains how certain ways of characterizing events may lead to flawed conclusions. If you can get past Taleb's sometimes overwhelming arrogance, this book has a lot to offer.
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Product Details

Taleb, Nassim Nicholas
Random House (NY)
Uncertainty (information theory)
Management - General
General Business & Economics
Business management
Corporate Finance
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
9.21x6.47x1.25 in. 1.49 lbs.

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Business » General
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Business » Marketing
Engineering » Communications » Information Theory
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The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable Used Hardcover
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Product details 480 pages Random House - English 9781400063512 Reviews:
"Review" by , "A humanist at heart, Mr. Taleb ponders not only the effect of Black Swans but also the reason we have so much trouble acknowledging their existence."
"Review" by , "When The Black Swan tries to expand from finance into a general theory of history, it falters further owing to lack of evidence."
"Review" by , Taleb's excellent book...effectively exposes many common illusions."
"Review" by , "Elegant, startling, and universal in its applications The Black Swan will change the way you look at the world."
"Synopsis" by , The Black Swan is a standalone book in Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s landmark Incerto series, an investigation of opacity, luck, uncertainty, probability, human error, risk, and decision-making in a world we don’t understand. The other books in the series are Fooled by Randomness, Antifragile, and The Bed of Procrustes.

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 in our 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 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 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. In this revelatory book, Taleb explains everything we know about what we don’t know, and this second edition features a new philosophical and empirical essay, “On Robustness and Fragility,” which offers tools to navigate and exploit a Black Swan world.


Elegant, 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 swan.


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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