The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

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Penguin Books Limited, Apr 3, 2008 - Business & Economics - 366 pages
82 Reviews
Black Swan is a highly improbable event with three principal characteristics: It is unpredictable; it carries a massive impact; and, after the fact, we concoct an explanation that makes it appear less random, and more predictable, than it was. The astonishing success of Google was a black swan; so was 9/11. For Nassim Nicholas Taleb, black swans underlie almost everything about our world, from the rise of religions to events in our own personal lives." "Why do we not acknowledge the phenomenon of black swans until after they occur? Part of the answer, according to Taleb, is that humans are hardwired to learn specifics when they should be focused on generalities. We concentrate on things we already know and time and time again fail to take into consideration what we don't know. We are, therefore, unable to truly estimate opportunities, too vulnerable to the impulse to simplify, narrate, and categorize, and not open enough to rewarding those who can imagine the "impossible."" "For years, Taleb has studied how we fool ourselves into thinking we know more than we actually do. We restrict our thinking to the irrelevant and inconsequential, while large events continue to surprise us and shape our world. Now, in this revelatory book, Taleb explains everything we know about what we don't know. He offers surprisingly simple tricks for dealing with black swans and benefiting from them.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - nyxnekhbet - LibraryThing

Mr. Taleb is a statistician by trade and while you may think this would made the book a difficult read if you aren't into that kind of thing I think you would be wrong. This book could be described as ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Noisy - LibraryThing

Second edition: contains Postscript essay. This deserves a fuller review, but I'll keep it brief because it's taken me a long time to actually reach the end of the book and some of the detail is lost ... Read full review

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About the author (2008)

Nassim Nicholas Taleb has devoted his life to immersing himself in problems of luck, uncertainty, probability and knowledge. Part literary essayist, part empiricist, part no-nonsense mathematical trader, he is currently Dean's Professor in the Science of Uncertainty at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. His last book, the bestseller Fooled by Randomness, has been published in eighteen languages and was selected by Fortunemagazine as one of "The Smartest Books of All Time". Taleb lives mostly in New York.

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