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Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder (Incerto) Hardcover – November 27, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
Taleb conveniently quotes one of his friend's summary of this book: "Everything gains or loses from volatility. Fragility is what loses from volatility and uncertainty."
I think the point is better expressed by rephrasing: "Antifragility is what gains from volatility and uncertainty, up to a point. And being antifragile is a good thing."
Well, that's pretty much summarizes this 500-pages-long book. The rest is an accumulation of more or less relevant topics, delivered in Taleb's trademarked seering, holier-than-thou, hero-or-moron style. Why, even in "Dynamic hedging", his first, $100-book on trading exotic options, he was already both immensely entertaining and almost unbearably infuriating.
1.2 A few of the more interesting points:
1.2.1 Every phenomenon in the world belongs to one of the following categories:
Fragile: vulnerable to unforeseen shocks
Robust: indifferent to shocks
Antifragile: thrive on shocks, up to a point.
That's what Taleb calls the Triad.
1.2.2 Most modern structures are inherently fragile
Salaried employment: while it looks safe on the surface (predictable salary every month) it is subject to the catastrophic risk of losing one's job.
Debt-fueled economies: debt has no flexibility, so these economies can't stand even a slowdown without risking implosion (cf current situation)
Modern societies: efficiency demands are pushing the structures to the maximum, so a little sand in the cogs make the whole edifice totter.
Touristification: turning adventures (kids growing up, people visiting foreign countries) from exciting, dangerous activities into bland, Disneyfied and safe ones.Read more ›
Taleb's third and most commercially successful book, The Black Swan, and this one (which may become his most successful), lay out his ideas in more breadth and depth. The three in the first paragraph are relatively non-controversial. They are critical mainly of people who are safe to ridicule, those who are blind to the uncertainty in the universe in fields that are ruled by randomness, such as finance. The Black Swan and Antifragile attack--in the most intemperate language--people, ideas and professions accustomed to reflexive worship. The attacks are vigorous and directed at the core beliefs that underpin large areas of modern life.
These latter two books are more difficult to read.Read more ›
The main point of the book is that the World is really complex and genuinely unpredictable. Black Swans (rare) events will always be Black Swans. Any efforts to forecast such events are counterproductive. But, even though we can't forecast Black Swan events we can manage our exposure to them so they don't hurt us or so we can even benefit from them (antifragility). If we simply remain long the underlying risk by attempting to model Black Swan infested variables, we will be exposed to volatility and fail (fragility).
The main underlying concepts are that the majority of causal relationships are nonlinear. They typically have both a convex section where the curve rises exponentially upward and is associated with a positive effect (antifragile) and a concave section that declines exponentially downward and has a negative effect (fragile). Think of the dose of a prescription drug. At first, as you increase the dose the health benefits improve (convexity). But, beyond a certain dose side effects and toxicity cause harm (concavity). This is shown on the first page of the "graphical tour." The trick is to reduce one's exposure to the concave part of the curve (reduce toxicity, reduce fragility) and increase exposure the the convex part (increase benefit, increase antifragility).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A novel way to view the world, full of interesting, thoughtful perspectives.Published 10 days ago by kurt okeefe
Mr. Taleb is a trader at heart and - as I can see - has little regard for being on the "right" side of a particular trade. Read morePublished 17 days ago by Richard W. May
This book is a true contrarian line of thinking. At times it gets tricky to follow exactly what Taleb means, but he is consistent and recursive enough to make the point clear over... Read morePublished 18 days ago by Daniel
Wonderful book about things that get stronger through stress. Addresses a wide range if issues from personal health, to who are the real innovators, revisionist history, to... Read morePublished 23 days ago by George Jones
Frankly, after he explained what Antifragile was, he could have quit at the end of the first chapter. The rest of the book fleshed out the concept, and it was, in parts clever. Read morePublished 1 month ago by RLeone
Really good read if you want to get a bit heady and see things (like the benefits of procrastination!) from a different perspective.Published 1 month ago by Aunt Jen-Jen
I rate this in the Top 3 books that influenced my thinking about business, strategy and risk - in a lifetime of reading this genre (over 30 years).Published 1 month ago by Dennis Price
This is a stunningly good book, it's not often one finds a book that really delivers new ways to think about lots of things, but this one does.Published 1 month ago by Mark Z
Confession: I haven't made it all the way through this book. It's good and useful and has some important ideas, but I keep getting put off by the author's caustic sarcasm and... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Justin D. Long