- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 10 hours and 1 minute
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Gildan Media, LLC
- Audible.com Release Date: January 10, 2008
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0012IZFRW
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets Audiobook – Unabridged
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Top customer reviews
Overall the book was interesting for a novice reader but definitely not an easy to follow book. There were many parts of the book where I had to stop and read twice or thrice to understand what the author is trying to say. It definitely shows you a different mindset of the Type A personality investment bankers and traders.
The book walks through various phases of how randomness and probability affect people from all walks of life. It is well divided into three major parts, each explaining different angles in which people view probability and randomness in their lives and how they deal with it on an individual level. The author explains well how perception and biases are responsible for people making wrong decisions. He talks about the fact that even though we cannot completely ignore emotions, we cannot as well completely remove probability and randomness while evaluating decisions and risks. The author also explains about the Monte Carlos simulators and how they should always be used to predict outcomes in the future rather than just relying on data from the past. The author also has strong views about denigrate history suggesting that people feel that things that happen to others might not happen to them. Nassim has given a lot of examples to show the reader the various angles in which randomness and probability is perceived, used and interpreted by people. The author also draws light upon the fact that too much information might end up doing more harm than good as it blurs your decision and your ability to choose the right information. Nassim also strongly emphasizes on the fact that any individual should never get completely loyal to his position as it hinders him from looking at different points of views. This in turns affects his decision making and ability to adapt to the changes that come with the position. The author has given examples of people from his life, famous people throughout history as well as people from various field of work to prove his point in several occasions. The author finally suggests that it is inevitable to be affected by randomness as he himself has been affected by it. However whatever the effects of randomness in anyone's life, they never should blame anyone or get angry but just learn to deal with and change is always inevitable.
The book has been written in a very personal format where it feels as if the author is trying to convey a message through a personal talk. Talking about experiences in his life and sharing his emotions definitely helps build that connection with the author. The author's style seems very straight and blunt as well. It feels like he has no qualms about how he has experienced life or what he has thought about some people who he has met in life. This is clearly seen in way he expresses feelings about some of his neighbors, coworkers or even people he has heard about. It gives a sort of raw understanding into the mind of the author. In doing so he has been able to sort of organize his book in to the various aspects of randomness, its effects and biases that come with it and finally how several people deal with it. This sort of structure helps in understanding the complex message that the author is trying to convey.
There are quite a few quotes that got me thinking, some of which are: "Mild success can be explainable by skills and labor. Wild success is attributable to variance.", "Heroes are heroes because they are heroic in behavior, not because they won or lost.", "A mistake is not something to be determined after the fact, but in the light of the information until that point.", "The only article Lady Fortuna has no control over is your behavior.". However my most favorite line from the book is "No amount of observations of white swans can allow the inference that all swans are white, but the observation of a single black swan is sufficient to refute that conclusion." I love it because it made me think and realize that this applies to so many things in life. Your reputation that you build upon for so many years can all come crashing down with a major mistake. Nassim explains this with an example of a successful banker who earned millions for a bank however a single mistake that cost him millions got him fired and forgotten of the things he had done in the past.
After reading through the entire book you have a sense of confusion mainly due to the fact that it does stay close to its name that there is a lot of talk about randomness that exists in the world and the market. However Nassims ability to convince the author is promising. He himself believes that he was fooled by randomness and consciously tries to make certain decision that help him in making the sound decision.
Overall this book has great things to offer from head scratching content to knowledge to even humor at times and is definitely worth a read. It helped me step out of my comfort reading zone and challenge me in my thoughts and opinions that I had about various aspects in life.
How We Are All Fools of Randomness
This book was not the simplest book I have ever read, but very insightful for the market trader/investor. I will provide a little insight of my own into the realm of Nassim Taleb. I enjoyed the fact that the author explained concepts of the financial nature in the most basic manner. For a person not to savvy in financial terminology the book was readable, it was actually other topics that the author randomly introduced that was a little harder to read. The book is about how people, who invest in or trade in the market, fail or succeed due to factors outside of their control. The author brings to light many concepts that people more often than not overlook. The author provides countless examples to break his concepts down into a comprehensible level. One point that is emphasized throughout the book is that most people fall into a trap of luck.
Taleb started his book by introducing Solon, a Greek legislator. He began his book with Solon, because of Solon's wisdom, "...to admire a man's happiness that may yet, in course of time, suffer change. For the uncertain future has yet to come, with all variety of future; and him only to whom the divinity has[guaranteed] continued happiness until the end we may call happy."(Taleb 3). Then the author explained how people could do everything right, but still fail. This was due to a randomness factor. These factors can be a natural disaster, an election, a terrorist attack, etc. People can crunch every number in the world to until their fingers bleed, but still fail. People can have tips and inside knowledge, but still fail. The author stresses this idea of randomness and repetitively intertwines it into the different scenarios presented into this book. The beginning of the book, the concept of randomness was introduced via two characters Nero and John. Taleb shows how randomness affects both characters that are of opposite mindsets. He later tells of how people's decisions are affected by emotions. He demonstrates this by telling of an experiment done, where a person is alleviated from his emotions. The emotion stricken person was not even able to complete the simplest tasks. The author spoke of emotions, because without it people would get nothing accomplished, on the other hand, with emotions, people can act irrationally which leads to bad decisions. The author makes his position on journalist in his field quite clear. Without hesitation, his detestation for journalist simmered throughout the pages. The author does not agree with journalist, because they are people who are inexperienced in the financial field, yet write about it; they fail to understand randomness. Then their idiocracy(yes I know this is made up, but fits the situation so well) is then consumed by their readers, who take the written fallacies to heart, which can lead to inadequate decisions. Next, Taleb speaks of a Monte Carol engine, which I have gathered as something to produce data of scenarios ran a countless amount of times, with random situations passed into the scenarios every time. The author preferred Monte Carlo methods, because he could care less about the ideas behind mathematics, but only the application. I found this a little intriguing that a person that is so knowledgeable in the financial field, which deals mainly with numbers, does not care for the properties of mathematics. The next topic the author presents is the association of Darwinism and companies. Companies cannot be viewed in the survival of the fittest manner, because the Darwinian ideas cannot and do not accommodate for randomness, which we learn from this book is a big part of the business world. Randomness can be either good or bad, essentially it will all come down to luck. A person will be either lucky or unlucky, but the author explains that eventually it will reverse itself and the unlucky will become lucky and the lucky become unlucky. Taleb introduces many significant subject matter experts throughout the book to support his claim of people being fooled by randomness.
I feel as if the author was a bit random himself. The way the text was presented seemed a little unorthodox to me. The author would present a subject, talk about it, provide examples about it, but then the next topic would be totally off on some other tangent, while all in the same chapter. I'm not even sure if everything written in the book could be tied back to randomness in some manner, but that I will go ahead and assume is to be blamed on my inexperience on the subject matter. The structure of the book is one thing I did not agree with. Although, this is the style of writing the author may have intended. I believe the book was well conversed and definitely and eye opener. Taleb did well in explaining complex material in a simplified fashion. I enjoyed all of the examples presented in the book; I felt they gave the book some character. I understand I cannot be considered a person well versed in the financial world, so everything written here completely opinion based. The main piece of knowledge I can confidently say I have gained from this book is that there is nothing that can be done to tame this unforgiving beast that is randomness.
For a book whose topic is of a subject that, I believe, many would consider of a dull nature was quite interesting. The book kept my interest with its comprehensible examples and insightful views. I definitely would recommend this book to anyone that has dealings in the economic world. Actually, I honestly believe this book could just about relate to anyone and everyone, because randomness is part of everyone's lives. I did not ever consider randomness to ever be as big of a factor in life as, I know it is, now. I will take the knowledge gained from reading this book and hopefully put it to good use.