Review: “The Black Swan” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

“I make a claim against many of our habits of thought, that our world is dominated by the extreme, the unknown and the very improbable.”

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This book is about our blindness to randomness. Especially when it comes to large deviations and what Nassim calls a “black swan” event.

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A “black swan” is a highly improbable event that is unpredictable, carries a massive impact; and, after the fact, we concoct an explanation that makes it look less random and more predictable that it actually was.

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Examples of black swans would be 9/11, the amazing success of Google.

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Why are we so bad at acknowledging these type of events? We concentrate on what we know and fail to take into consideration what we don’t know. We love to oversimplify, narrate and categorize a complex reality. This hurts us when estimating risks and seizing opportunities.

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📝 “Only a few people understand that unread books are more valuable than read ones.” Focus on anti-knowledge I.e. What you don’t know.

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📝 “The movie makes the actor”

Often someone’s success is more luck than actual skill. The excellence of an director or actor is often assigned after the fact.

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📝 “In order to predict the future you need to know about technologies that will be discovered in the future. But that knowledge would almost automatically make us able to start developing those technologies right away. Ergo, we don’t know what we will know.”

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📝 That you have more information won’t make your predictions any better, but it will make you more certain they are.

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY

We can’t predict future events for shit. But more importantly, people that work with predictions are even worse predictors than your average Joe.

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Great book! What are you currently reading?

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4/5

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