- Series: Incerto
- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Random House; 2 Updated edition (October 14, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1400067936
- ISBN-13: 978-1400067930
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 768 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #133,805 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets (Incerto) Hardcover – October 14, 2008
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If the prescriptions for getting rich that are outlined in books such as The Millionaire Next Door and Rich Dad Poor Dad are successful enough to make the books bestsellers, then one must ask, Why aren't there more millionaires? In Fooled by Randomness, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a professional trader and mathematics professor, examines what randomness means in business and in life and why human beings are so prone to mistake dumb luck for consummate skill. This eccentric and highly personal exploration of the nature of randomness meanders from the court of Croesus and trading rooms in New York and London to Russian roulette, Monte Carlo engines, and the philosophy of Karl Popper. Part of what makes this book so good is Taleb's ability to make seemingly arcane mathematical concepts (at least to this reviewer) entirely relevant in evaluating and understanding everything from the stock market to the success of those millionaires cited in the aforementioned bestsellers. Here's an articulate, wise, and humorous meditation on the nature of success and failure that anyone who wants a little more of the former would do well to consider. Highly recommended. --Harry C. Edwards --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.
From Publishers Weekly
In this look at financial luck, hedge fund manager Taleb (Dynamic Hedging) addresses the apparently irrational movement of money markets around the world. Using his own investing experience and examples of others' successes and disappointments, he discusses theories like Monte Carlo math (easy; considered cheating by purists) and the concept of Russian roulette. Taleb tells interesting, well-wrought stories about individual behavior: "While Nero has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams, both personally and intellectually, he is starting to consider himself as having missed a chance somewhere." While serious investors and mathematics enthusiasts will be intrigued, readers looking for practical investment strategies will be disappointed by this rambling intellectual discourse. Tables. 40,000-copy first printing; $150,000 marketing budget.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.
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Top customer reviews
The author has thought deeply about risk and uncertainty. Before reading this I thought I had too. No longer. Perhaps reading this while young would produce a more positive asessment of its value but in one's later years it is more depressing than enlightening. Yes, most of us are fools so what's new in that? Will any readers be made less foolish by reading this? That is really the question.
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.
Aha - that is one of the issues this book tackles - the randomness of events that shakes us up. We expect the the world to be rational, that there are reasons for things and if we don't know the reason someone, usually Google or wikipedia does know.
Ah, but there you would be wrong, there are irrational things, random unforseeable events that happen more often than you think, events that affect us and we have to react to them. These are the kind of things I have always been thinking about, how we make decisions, how much of what happens to us we can control and what role luck or chance plays. Turns out that all these years that I have thinking about this and writing about them in my private journal, others have been producing books and getting PHd's, writing about this stuff and calling them theories and fitting them into existing categories of economics, mathematics, psychology and others I can't think of at the moment. See, if I was more motivated I could be writing these books instead of reviewing them on Amazon and Goodreads.
In conclusion, I highly recommend this book to those who are interested in learning about how others see the world There are certain conclusions and insights which really can shine a beacon on the irrationality that surrounds us all. For example - how is success measured, by results or by the process?
The most important insight I gleaned from this book, I think , is not to congratulate yourself too much for success, or berate yourself too much on failure - there is more randomness than you think. Just do what you think is right and proper for your life and loved ones, hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
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I don't exaggerate. I think he's that insightful.Read more