The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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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. Now, in this revelatory book, Taleb explains 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 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.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb has devoted his life to immersing himself in problems of luck, uncertainty, probability, and knowledge. Part literary essayist, part empiricist, part no-nonsense mathematical trader, he is currently taking a break by serving as the Dean’s Professor in the Sciences of Uncertainty at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. His last book, the bestseller Fooled by Randomness, has been published in twenty languages, Taleb lives mostly in New York.

Anatomy of a Black Swan—The triplet of opacity—Reading books backward—The rearview mirror—Everything becomes explainable—Always talk to the driver (with caution)—History doesn’t crawl; it jumps—“It was so unexpected”—Sleeping for twelve hours

Pink glasses and success—How Yevgenia stops marrying philosophers—I told you so

On the critical difference between speculators and prostitutes—Fairness, unfairness, and Black Swans—Theory of knowledge and professional incomes—How Extremistan is not the best place to visit, except, perhaps, if you are a winner

Surprise, surprise—Sophisticated methods for learning from the future—Sextus was always ahead—The main idea is not to be a sucker—Let us move to Mediocristan, if we can find it

I have so much evidence—Can Zoogles be (sometimes) Boogies?—Corroboration shmorroboration—Popper’s idea

The cause of the because—How to split a brain—Effective methods of pointing at the ceiling—Dopamine will help you win—I will stop riding motorcycles (but not today)—Both empirical and psychologist? Since when?

How to avoid watercoolers—Select your brother-in-law—Yevgenia’s favorite book—What deserts can and cannot deliver—On the avoidance of hope—El desierto de los tártaros—The virtues of slow motion

The Diagoras problem—How Black Swans make their way out of history books—Methods to help you avoid drowning—The drowned do not usually vote—We should all be stockbrokers—Do silent witnesses count?—Casanova’s étoile—New York is “so invincible”

Lunch at Lake Como (west)—The military as philosophers—Plato’s randomness

Welcome to Sydney—How many lovers did she have?—How to be an economist, wear a nice suit, and make friends—Not right, just “almost” right—Shallow rivers can have deep spots

Popper’s prediction about the predictors—Poincaré plays with billiard balls—Von Hayek is allowed to be irreverent—Anticipation machines—Paul Samuelson wants you to be rational—Beware the philosopher—Demand some certainties.

This is only an essay—Children and philosophers vs. adults and nonphilosophers—Science as an autistic enterprise—The past too has a past—Mispredict and live a long, happy life (if you survive)

You should charge people for advice—My two cents here—Nobody knows anything, but, at least, he knows it—Go to parties

I prefer Horowitz—How to fall from favor—The long tail—Get ready for some surprises—It’s not just money

Not worth a pastis—Quételet’s error—The average man is a monster—Let’s deify it—Yes or no—Not so literary an experiment

Mandelbrot’s library—Was Galileo blind?—Pearls to swine—Self-affinity—How the world can be complicated in a simple way, or, perhaps, simple in a very complicated way

What?—Anyone can become president—Alfred Nobel’s legacy—Those medieval days

Philosophers in the wrong places—Uncertainty about (mostly) lunch—What I don’t care about—Education and intelligence

The other half—Remember Apelles—When missing a train can be painful

428 pages, published in
Nassim Nicholas Taleb

A book by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Essayist, mathematician and trader. His areas of interest include epistemology (a branch of philosophy that studies the foundations of knowledge) of randomness, as well as interdisciplinary problems of uncertainty and knowledge, especially in connection with serious, difficult to predict events. One of the first to become interested in the mechanisms of trading in derivative financial instruments. Nassim Nicholas Taleb was born in 1960, in the Lebanese city of Amioun. His family professed Orthodoxy. During the civil war that began in 1975, they were deported. Nassim Nicholas` father, Dr.

Taleb, was an oncologist, engaged in anthropological research. Among his ancestors were politicians who represented the interests of the Lebanese Orthodox community. So his maternal grandfather and great-grandfather were deputy prime ministers of Lebanon, his paternal grandfather served as the supreme judge, and back in 1861 his great-great-great-great-grandfather served as governor of the semi-autonomous Ottoman province on Mount Lebanon. Taleb held senior positions in brokerage firms in London and New York and also worked at the stock exchange before starting his own hedge fund Empirica LLC (futures and options trading). He holds an MBA from Wharton School and a PhD from the University of Paris. Author of Dynamic Hedging and Fooled by Randomness. Calling himself a “skeptical empiricist,” he believes that scientists, economists, historians, politicians, businessmen, and financiers overestimate the possibilities of rational interpretations of statistics and underestimate the impact of unexplained randomness in those statistics. Thus, Taleb continues the long tradition of skepticism that Sextus Empiricus, Al-Ghazali, Pierre Boyle, Montaigne and David Hume professed, who believed that the past does not allow predicting the future. Taleb is a follower of Karl Popper and argues that theories cannot be considered proven and can only be used conditionally. Currently, Taleb is engaged in research in the philosophy of randomness and the role of uncertainty in society and science, with a bias in the philosophy of history and the study of the role of important accidents (he calls them "black swans") in determining the course of history. It is important to note that black swans are not necessarily negative events or disasters, but random luck. In his opinion, people do not notice these events, considering the world to be a systematized, understandable and ordinary structure. Blog: http://ntaleb.blogspot.com/

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable PDF

Essayist, mathematician and trader. His areas of interest include epistemology (a branch of philosophy that studies the foundations of knowledge) of randomness, as well as interdisciplinary problems of uncertainty and knowledge, especially in connection with serious, difficult to predict events. One of the first to become interested in the mechanisms of trading in derivative financial instruments. Nassim Nicholas Taleb was born in 1960, in the Lebanese city of Amioun. His family professed Orthodoxy. During the civil war that began in 1975, they were deported. Nassim Nicholas` father, Dr. Taleb, was an oncologist, engaged in anthropological research. Among his ancestors were politicians who represented the interests of the Lebanese Orthodox community. So his maternal grandfather and great-grandfather were deputy prime ministers of Lebanon, his paternal grandfather served as the supreme judge, and back in 1861 his great-great-great-great-grandfather served as governor of the semi-autonomous Ottoman province on Mount Lebanon. Taleb held senior positions in brokerage firms in London and New York and also worked at the stock exchange before starting his own hedge fund Empirica LLC (futures and options trading). He holds an MBA from Wharton School and a PhD from the University of Paris. Author of Dynamic Hedging and Fooled by Randomness. Calling himself a “skeptical empiricist,” he believes that scientists, economists, historians, politicians, businessmen, and financiers overestimate the possibilities of rational interpretations of statistics and underestimate the impact of unexplained randomness in those statistics. Thus, Taleb continues the long tradition of skepticism that Sextus Empiricus, Al-Ghazali, Pierre Boyle, Montaigne and David Hume professed, who believed that the past does not allow predicting the future. Taleb is a follower of Karl Popper and argues that theories cannot be considered proven and can only be used conditionally. Currently, Taleb is engaged in research in the philosophy of randomness and the role of uncertainty in society and science, with a bias in the philosophy of history and the study of the role of important accidents (he calls them "black swans") in determining the course of history. It is important to note that black swans are not necessarily negative events or disasters, but random luck. In his opinion, people do not notice these events, considering the world to be a systematized, understandable and ordinary structure. Blog: http://ntaleb.blogspot.com/