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The Black Swan: Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable: With a new section: "On Robustness and Fragility" (Incerto) Paperback – May 11, 2010
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"Children of Blood and Bone"
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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
About the Author
Nassim Nicholas Taleb has devoted his life to problems of uncertainty, probability, and knowledge. He spent nearly two decades as a businessman and quantitative trader before becoming a full-time philosophical essayist and academic researcher in 2006. Although he spends most of his time in the intense seclusion of his study, or as a flâneur meditating in cafés, he is currently Distinguished Professor of Risk Engineering at New York University’s Polytechnic Institute. His main subject matter is “decision making under opacity”—that is, a map and a protocol on how we should live in a world we don’t understand.
Taleb’s books have been published in thirty-three languages.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Stylistically, it makes these great ideas a lot harder to grok than should be necessary. There are entirely fictional anecdotes illustrating important points. Or are they fictional? Who knows? Some paragraphs are so packed with meaning, I almost can’t figure out what they’re saying. We’re told the Fourth Quadrant is where the trouble lies, but don’t find out what the Fourth Quadrant is until an essay added on after the book proper (spoiler alert: it’s the set of phenomena not described by the bell shaped curve, with outcomes described by nonlinear properties and compiex interconnected feedback loops.)
It’s as if the author were relating how he himself came to these realizations over time. I would much rather read an account beginning with the ideas and what they mean, and then going into the theory and supporting evidence.
Still, the author is who he is, the book is what it is and there is literally nothing else like it. You need to read this book. It will reward whatever effort you invest to understand it.
And, as always, avoid the Fourth Quadrant.
The book covers both the math as well as the narrative intuition for understanding rare events and why we tend to underestimate both their frequency and effects on our best laid plans.
The book is full of hundreds of great examples, and it is written in a very approachable style.
Whether you are a hard core statistician or just someone interested in statistics, this is a great book for you.