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wholesale Antifragile: Things That online popular Gain from Disorder (Incerto) online
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Antifragile is a standalone book in Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s landmark Incerto series, an investigation of opacity, luck, uncertainty, probability, human error, risk, and decision-making in a world we don’t understand. The other books in the series are Fooled by Randomness, The Black Swan, Skin in the Game, and The Bed of Procrustes.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the bestselling author of The Black Swan and one of the foremost thinkers of our time, reveals how to thrive in an uncertain world.

Just as human bones get stronger when subjected to stress and tension, and rumors or riots intensify when someone tries to repress them, many things in life benefit from stress, disorder, volatility, and turmoil. What Taleb has identified and calls “antifragile” is that category of things that not only gain from chaos but need it in order to survive and flourish. 

In The Black Swan, Taleb showed us that highly improbable and unpredictable events underlie almost everything about our world. In Antifragile, Taleb stands uncertainty on its head, making it desirable, even necessary, and proposes that things be built in an antifragile manner. The antifragile is beyond the resilient or robust. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better and better.

Furthermore, the antifragile is immune to prediction errors and protected from adverse events. Why is the city-state better than the nation-state, why is debt bad for you, and why is what we call “efficient” not efficient at all? Why do government responses and social policies protect the strong and hurt the weak? Why should you write your resignation letter before even starting on the job? How did the sinking of the Titanic save lives? The book spans innovation by trial and error, life decisions, politics, urban planning, war, personal finance, economic systems, and medicine. And throughout, in addition to the street wisdom of Fat Tony of Brooklyn, the voices and recipes of ancient wisdom, from Roman, Greek, Semitic, and medieval sources, are loud and clear.

Antifragile is a blueprint for living in a Black Swan world.

Erudite, witty, and iconoclastic, Taleb’s message is revolutionary: The antifragile, and only the antifragile, will make it.

Praise for Antifragile

“Ambitious and thought-provoking . . . highly entertaining.” The Economist

“A bold book explaining how and why we should embrace uncertainty, randomness, and error . . . It may just change our lives.” Newsweek

Amazon.com Review

: Fragile things break under stress. But, according to Nassim Nicholas Taleb, there''s an entire class of other things that don''t simply resist stress but actually grow, strengthen, or otherwise gain from unforeseen and otherwise unwelcome stimuli. Taleb sees degrees of antifragility everywhere, from fasting, mythology, and urban planning to economic, technological, cultural, and biological systems. The wealth of radical thinking in this book astounds; the glossary alone offered more thought-provoking ideas than any other nonfiction book I read this year. That said, Antifragile is far from flawless. As comical as Taleb''s rough handling of his favorite targets can be--academics, economists, and tourists, to name a few--his argumentative style boasts gaping holes, non sequiturs aplenty, and at times an almost willfully repugnant tone. Some readers will find Taleb''s brashness off-putting; others will embrace it as a charismatic component of the ideas themselves. Either way, no one will finish this book unchanged. -- Jason Kirk

From Booklist

Judging by his anecdotes, Taleb interacts with the economic masters of the universe as he jets from New York to London or attends business-politics confabs in Davos, Switzerland. Anything but awed by them, Taleb regards them as charlatans, not as credible experts. Such skepticism toward elites, which imbued Taleb’s The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (2007), continues in this work, which grapples with a concept Taleb coins as “antifragile.” Not readily reducible to a definition (Taleb takes the whole book to develop the idea), suffice to say here that antifragile’s opposites—economic, political, or medical systems that are vulnerable to sudden collapse—tend to be managed by highly educated people who think they know how systems work. But they don’t, avers Taleb. Their confidence in control is illusory; their actions harm rather than help. In contrast, Taleb views decentralized systems—the entrepreneurial business rather than the bureaucratized corporation, the local rather than the central government—as more adaptable to systemic stresses. Emphatic in his style and convictions, Taleb grabs readers given to musing how the world works. --Gilbert Taylor

Review

“Ambitious and thought-provoking . . . highly entertaining.” The Economist
 
“A bold book explaining how and why we should embrace uncertainty, randomness, and error . . . It may just change our lives.” Newsweek
 
“Revelatory . . . [Taleb] pulls the reader along with the logic of a Socrates.” Chicago Tribune
 
“Startling . . . richly crammed with insights, stories, fine phrases and intriguing asides . . . I will have to read it again. And again.” —Matt Ridley, The Wall Street Journal
 
“Trenchant and persuasive . . . Taleb’s insatiable polymathic curiosity knows no bounds. . . . You finish the book feeling braver and uplifted.” New Statesman
 
“Antifragility isn’t just sound economic and political doctrine. It’s also the key to a good life.” Fortune
 
“At once thought-provoking and brilliant.” —Los Angeles Times

“[Taleb] writes as if he were the illegitimate spawn of David Hume and Rev. Bayes, with some DNA mixed in from Norbert Weiner and Laurence Sterne. . . . Taleb is writing original stuff—not only within the management space but for readers of any literature—and . . . you will learn more about more things from this book and be challenged in more ways than by any other book you have read this year. Trust me on this.” Harvard Business Review

“By far my favorite book among several good ones published in 2012. In addition to being an enjoyable and interesting read, Taleb’s new book advances general understanding of how different systems operate, the great variation in how they respond to unthinkables, and how to make them more adaptable and agile. His systemic insights extend very well to company-specific operational issues—from ensuring that mistakes provide a learning process to the importance of ensuring sufficient transparency to the myriad of specific risk issues.” —Mohamed El-Erian, CEO of PIMCO, Bloomberg

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 forty-one languages.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1

Between Damocles and Hydra

Please cut my head off—­How by some magic, colors become colors—­ How to lift weight in Dubai

Half of Life Has No Name

You are in the post office about to send a gift, a package full of champagne glasses, to a cousin in Central Siberia. As the package can be damaged during transportation, you would stamp “fragile,” “breakable,” or “handle with care” on it (in red). Now what is the exact opposite of such situation, the exact opposite of “fragile”?

Almost all people answer that the opposite of “fragile” is “robust,” “resilient,” “solid,” or something of the sort. But the resilient, robust (and company) are items that neither break nor improve, so you would not need to write anything on them—­have you ever seen a package with “robust” in thick green letters stamped on it? Logically, the exact opposite of a “fragile” parcel would be a package on which one has written “please mishandle” or “please handle carelessly.” Its contents would not just be unbreakable, but would benefit from shocks and a wide array of trauma. The fragile is the package that would be at best unharmed, the robust would be at best and at worst unharmed. And the opposite of fragile is therefore what is at worst unharmed.

We gave the appellation “antifragile” to such a package; a neologism was necessary as there is no simple, noncompound word in the Oxford English Dictionary that expresses the point of reverse fragility. For the idea of antifragility is not part of our consciousness—­but, luckily, it is part of our ancestral behavior, our biological apparatus, and a ubiquitous property of every system that has survived.



Figure 1. A package begging for stressors and disorder. Credit: Giotto Enterprise and George Nasr.

To see how alien the concept is to our minds, repeat the experiment and ask around at the next gathering, picnic, or pre-­riot congregation what’s the antonym of fragile (and specify insistently that you mean the exact reverse, something that has opposite properties and payoff). The likely answers will be, aside from robust: unbreakable, solid, well-­built, resilient, strong, something-­proof (say, waterproof, windproof, rustproof)—­ unless they’ve heard of this book. Wrong—­and it is not just individuals but branches of knowledge that are confused by it; this is a mistake made in every dictionary of synonyms and antonyms I’ve found.

Another way to view it: since the opposite of positive is negative, not neutral, the opposite of positive fragility should be negative fragility (hence my appellation “antifragility”), not neutral, which would just convey robustness, strength, and unbreakability. Indeed, when one writes things down mathematically, antifragility is fragility with a negative sign in front of it.

This blind spot seems universal. There is no word for “antifragility” in the main known languages, modern, ancient, colloquial, or slang. Even Russian (Soviet version) and Standard Brooklyn English don’t seem to have a designation for antifragility, conflating it with robustness.

Half of life—­the interesting half of life—­we don’t have a name for.

Please Behead Me

If we have no common name for antifragility, we can find a mythological equivalence, the expression of historical intelligence through potent metaphors. In a Roman recycled version of a Greek myth, the Sicilian tyrant Dionysius II has the fawning courtier Damocles enjoy the luxury of a fancy banquet, but with a sword hanging over his head, tied to the ceiling with a single hair from a horse’s tail. A horse’s hair is the kind of thing that eventually breaks under pressure, followed by a scene of blood, high-­pitched screams, and the equivalent of ancient ambulances. Damocles is fragile—­it is only a matter of time before the sword strikes him down.

In another ancient legend, this time the Greek recycling of an ancient Semitic and Egyptian legend, we find Phoenix, the bird with splendid colors. Whenever it is destroyed, it is reborn from it own ashes. It always returns to its initial state. Phoenix happens to be the ancient symbol of Beirut, the city where I grew up. According to legend, Berytus (Beirut’s historical name) has been destroyed seven times in its close to five-­thousand-­year history, and has come back seven times. The story seems cogent, as I myself saw the eighth episode; central Beirut (the ancient part of the city) was completely destroyed for the eighth time during my late childhood, thanks to the brutal civil war. I also saw its eighth rebuilding.

But Beirut was, in its latest version, rebuilt in even better shape than the previous incarnation—­and with an interesting irony: the earthquake of a.d. 551 had buried the Roman law school, which was discovered, like a bonus from history, during the reconstruction (with archeologists and real estate developers trading public insults). That’s not Phoenix, but something else beyond the robust. Which brings us to the third mythological metaphor: Hydra.

Hydra, in Greek mythology, is a serpent-­like creature that dwells in the lake of Lerna, near Argos, and has numerous heads. Each time one is cut off, two grow back. So harm is what it likes. Hydra represents antifragility.

The sword of Damocles represents the side effect of power and success: you cannot rise and rule without facing this continuous danger—­ someone out there will be actively working to topple you. And like the sword, the danger will be silent, inexorable, and discontinuous. It will fall abruptly after long periods of quiet, perhaps at the very moment one has gotten used to it and forgotten about its existence. Black Swans will be out there to get you as you now have much more to lose, a cost of success (and growth), perhaps an unavoidable penalty of excessive success. At the end, what matters is the strength of the string—­not the wealth and power of the dining party. But, luckily, this is an identifiable, measurable, and tractable vulnerability, for those who want to listen. The entire point of the Triad is that in many situations we can measure the strength of the string.

Further, consider how toxic such growth-­followed-­by-­a-­fall can be to society, as the fall of the dining guest, in response to the fall of the sword of Damocles, will bring what we now call collateral damage, harming others. For instance, the collapse of a large institution will have effects on society.

Sophistication, a certain brand of sophistication, also brings fragility to Black Swans: as societies gain in complexity, with more and more “cutting edge” sophistication in them, and more and more specialization, they become increasingly vulnerable to collapse. This idea has been brilliantly—­and convincingly—­adumbrated by the archeologist Joseph Tainter. But it does not have to be so: it is so only for those unwilling to go the extra step and understand the matrix of reality. To counter success, you need a high offsetting dose of robustness, even high doses of antifragility. You want to be Phoenix, or possibly Hydra. Otherwise the sword of Damocles will get you.

On the Necessity of Naming

We know more than we think we do, a lot more than we can articulate. If our formal systems of thought denigrate the natural, and in fact we don’t have a name for antifragility, and fight the concept whenever we use our brains, it does not mean that our actions neglect it. Our perceptions and intuitions, as expressed in deeds, can be superior to what we know and tabulate, discuss in words, and teach in a classroom. We will have ample discussions of the point particularly with the potent notion of the apophatic (what cannot be explicitly said, or directly described, in our current vocabulary); so for now, take this curious phenomenon.

In Through the Language Glass, the linguist Guy Deutscher reports that many primitive populations, without being color-­blind, have verbal designations for only two or three colors. But when given a simple test, they can successfully match strings to their corresponding colors. They are capable of detecting the differences between the various nuances of the rainbow, but they do not express these in their vocabularies. These populations are culturally, though not biologically, color-­blind.

Just as we are intellectually, not organically, antifragility-­blind. To see the difference just consider that you need the name “blue” for the construction of a narrative, but not when you engage in action.

It is not well known that many colors we take for granted had no name for a long time, and had no names in the central texts in Western culture. Ancient Mediterranean texts, both Greek and Semitic, also had a reduced vocabulary of a small number of colors polarized around the dark and the light—­Homer and his contemporaries were limited to about three or four main colors: black, white, and some indeterminate part of the rainbow, often subsumed as red, or yellow.

I contacted Guy Deutscher. He was extremely generous with his help and pointed out to me that the ancients even lacked words for something as elementary as blue. This absence of the word “blue” in ancient Greek explains the recurring reference by Homer to the “wine-­dark sea” (oinopa ponton), which has been quite puzzling to readers (including this one).

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StraightShooter
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
This Author Is Just Too Full of Himself
Reviewed in the United States on August 26, 2019
This author is just too full of himself. Some years ago I started Black Swan but gave up midway because there was just too much self-congratulation over his rather limited insight that “the future is unpredictable”. This book is more of the same, only worse.... See more
This author is just too full of himself. Some years ago I started Black Swan but gave up midway because there was just too much self-congratulation over his rather limited insight that “the future is unpredictable”.

This book is more of the same, only worse.

From one paragraph to the next, odd “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” factoids and impenetrable/simplistic metaphors are thrown at you, with little pretense at logical sequence. (Taleb tries to explain away the lack of continuity by saying that he’s really writing four different books here, and that in fact, all his past books form a grand oeuvre which you must read the entirety of to appreciate.) Taleb pontificates - hands down the truth from his pulpit - on one subject after another; to underscore his erudition, every few pages he throws in a phrase in Latin or French that he then translates - for the benefit of the less-erudite-than-him readers - into English. It’s tiresome and even a bit sad, like hearing someone at a cocktail party trying to impress you with her social credentials.

The final takeaways? Embrace randomness and unpredictability. Be wary of over-regulation (obsessive attempts to prepare against the unpredictable). The French over-regulate and are successful but can’t in the end be considered to over-regulate because many of the French are really not French anyway [absolutely sic]. It is better to be poor and indifferent (have no goals) because then you cannot be harmed by life’s vicissitudes. If you don’t understand my point [implies Taleb] it’s because you’re stupid, and if you protest my inability to express a simple, clear, and understandable thought, I will just walk out on you [as he proudly recounted doing when a radio talk host asked him to explain something better].

In sum, this book is nothing but the random musings and rants of a windbag.
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Salvador Vallejo
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
had high expectations and I wasn''t disappointed. However
Reviewed in the United States on April 18, 2018
The idea of the book is very interesting and is filled with examples and anecdotes which help clarify the concept and its implications. It is very interesting how such an important concept with clear implications in multiple contexts has flown under the radar by academics... See more
The idea of the book is very interesting and is filled with examples and anecdotes which help clarify the concept and its implications. It is very interesting how such an important concept with clear implications in multiple contexts has flown under the radar by academics and professionals. I have read other books by the same author, had high expectations and I wasn''t disappointed. However, I cannot stop thinking that it could have been written in half the pages.His mix of informal prose, references to classic literature, self-congratulation, grandiose explanations, and real-world stories are tiring at some points. It took me much longer to read than usual because I often got saturated with his style. It sat at my table for months while I read four other books in-between.

I wish there were a way to give more nuance when assigning starts to a review. 5 starts to what the book is about, 1 star to how is written.
198 people found this helpful
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Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
I''m in the other group
Reviewed in the United States on January 11, 2019
Some people rave about this author and his ability to challenge conventional thought. Others complain about his drawn out and stream of consciousness writing style. I''m in the group that found his writing style so distasteful to read that his content was lost on me. I... See more
Some people rave about this author and his ability to challenge conventional thought. Others complain about his drawn out and stream of consciousness writing style. I''m in the group that found his writing style so distasteful to read that his content was lost on me. I enjoyed the ideas he shared and his point of view. Yet his verbose and negative writing style made it impossible for me to want to read beyond the first 1/3 of the book. My time was more valuable.
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Megan H
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A begrudging fan.
Reviewed in the United States on May 29, 2015
Oh, Taleb. You make it so hard to not use vulgar language in my review. This book, which introduces and describes the concept of antifragility, is pretty revolutionary. Few books have fundamentally changed the way I think about the world, and this is one of... See more
Oh, Taleb. You make it so hard to not use vulgar language in my review.

This book, which introduces and describes the concept of antifragility, is pretty revolutionary. Few books have fundamentally changed the way I think about the world, and this is one of them. My understanding of risk and how to address it has shifted dramatically, and the application of the concepts discussed has yielded surprising results.

That being said, the author is as pretentious as they come. Expect a lot of fancy-pants language for no reason other than to show off, and off-topic stories to illustrate just how much better than the rest of mankind Taleb is.

For example, “We gave the appellation ‘antifragile’ to such a package; a neologism was necessary as there is no simple, noncompound word in the Oxford English Dictionary that expresses the point of reverse fragility.”

*facepalm*

It is a frustrating read to say the least. It took me a couple months to slog through this book because of how frequently I wanted to punch Taleb in the teeth, but the content is 100% worth it.
515 people found this helpful
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OscarWildeDog
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
You Get From This Book What You Put Into It
Reviewed in the United States on June 4, 2017
This is the type of book which truly requires some introspection and reflection on your part. You cannot take this at face value and read it truly as a work of nonfiction. While you are reading, you must imagine how antifragility and all its domains work in your particular... See more
This is the type of book which truly requires some introspection and reflection on your part. You cannot take this at face value and read it truly as a work of nonfiction. While you are reading, you must imagine how antifragility and all its domains work in your particular life and lifestyle. As Taleb relates at the end of his book, look around you – what is fragile and antifragile? What likes volatility; what dislikes uncertainty? And do you yourself like variation and disorder? That means you are truly alive.

I haven''t read many reviews for this book. However, I am sure that there will be a few who will complain about the grammar and syntax Taleb uses when writing the book. While disconcerting at times, you have to look past it. I wouldn''t say this about most any author. In a weird sort of way, the variation in grammar and syntax truly makes you more of an antifragile reader! You are more inclined to go back and re-read many of the passages; you are encouraged to take notes. And, like most any book which is worth it''s salt, it deserves a second and a third reading to truly grasp the full meaning of what the author is trying to convey.
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PP Team
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Don’t do it
Reviewed in the United States on April 15, 2020
I have 50-ish amazon book purchases. This is my first review. This book has lots of smart-guy words. Lots of short stories and anecdotes and mythological references. Lots of bland generalities. Yes, models can be way wrong if the inputs are wrong.... See more
I have 50-ish amazon book purchases. This is my first review.

This book has lots of smart-guy words. Lots of short stories and anecdotes and mythological references. Lots of bland generalities.

Yes, models can be way wrong if the inputs are wrong. Yes, there are tail events that can help or hurt. Yes, not all relationships are linear. It shouldn’t take hundreds of pages to say stuff like this. Dressing all this up in smart-guy speak doesn’t help the reader.

I almost never get surly about book purchases... but I’m surly about this one.

.
16 people found this helpful
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Paul Bianchi
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Very unusual, and very interesting
Reviewed in the United States on February 8, 2013
First of all, read the book. Whether you agree with Taleb or not, he has here a serious critique of serious things. Be prepared for a bit of a slog - the 5 stars is for the significance of his ideas, not his literary talent. Imagine striking up a conversation at an... See more
First of all, read the book. Whether you agree with Taleb or not, he has here a serious critique of serious things.
Be prepared for a bit of a slog - the 5 stars is for the significance of his ideas, not his literary talent. Imagine striking up a conversation at an airport bar with a very smart, slightly drunk aristocrat who grew up in a war-torn Lebanon, returning from a conference full of people he considers spoiled and irresponsible Westerners. Press record. That''s how the book reads.
And that image in my head helped me enjoy the book. Taleb is utterly pissed off by an economic and political ruling class that he sees as oblivious to the fragility of the systems they are creating, and so to the catastrophes they are setting us all up for. The book is less a reasoned arguments than an impassioned rallying cry for people to stop drinking the cool-aid of economic and social quick fixes, attempts to overly-isolate people from the natural vicissitudes of life as well as from the consequences of their own actions. We learn and grow from the stressors of life ( up to a point), and this is how we become " antifragile".
What I find especially refreshing is that this thesis really doesn''t come across as being either liberal or conservative - Taleb isn''t operating along that axis. He is arguing for us to re-value simplicity in systems, learning from and trusting our experience, taking responsibility for our actions, and being "heroic" in the classical sense of working for (and perhaps sacrificing oneself for) the good of others. It is a deeply traditional view, balancing the individual with society and with nature.
Now be warned, this all comes at you in a somewhat inebriated tirade that bounces all over the map, from the mouths of Brooklyn bankers and (occasionally untranslated) classical writers, and illuminated by episodes from Taleb''s globe-trotting life that can sometimes get a bit stale. But that''s exactly how you have to hear it - the style is intentionally over-the-top and excessive, the "I''m mad as hell and I''m not going to take it anymore" of a former economic insider. But he has the saving graces of a sense of humor and a deep historical sense, that commands your respect more fully than just another pissed-off Fox New pr CNBC commentator with an axe to grind.
206 people found this helpful
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Shayne Lee
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
My New Fave book
Reviewed in the United States on September 14, 2019
I''m a sociology professor and so many of Nassim''s attacks against the academy are aimed at my domain and I can honestly say this is my new favorite book. I listened to each CD of the audio book twice and I''m still hungry for more. I honestly think Fat Tony understands the... See more
I''m a sociology professor and so many of Nassim''s attacks against the academy are aimed at my domain and I can honestly say this is my new favorite book. I listened to each CD of the audio book twice and I''m still hungry for more. I honestly think Fat Tony understands the randomness of life better than many of my colleagues who think they can predict the unpredictable. Humans are contra-causal creatures and yet social scientists think they can predict and control human behavior in causal fashions. I think Nassim should write a chapter on Dave Chappelle and how his new approach to fame and comedy has made him anti-fragile (he stays off social media, only does select shows and specials, and thus is able to say whatever he wants without fear of reprisal). Nassim has changed the way I see the world and I hope I get to meet him one day to thank him for the gift of this wonderful book. It provided many pleasurable moments. Btw, even if you''ve read the book, make sure you buy the audio book too. The narrator is awesome. His voice captures the attitude of Nassim''s provocative prose!!! Sorry Malcolm Gadwell, but Nassim has replaced you as my favorite intellectuall (Fooled by Randomness was awesome too). Thanks Nassim for this great book and for writing it in a way that provides so many moments of hilarity and deep reflection.
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Top reviews from other countries

Ed209
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
I loved Fooled by Randomness and the Black Swan
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 18, 2018
I loved Fooled by Randomness and the Black Swan, but this follow up is disappointing. There''s two reasons for this. the first is that Taleb seems to have explained his key thoughts in those earlier books, and there''s little new material here. The second is that Taleb...See more
I loved Fooled by Randomness and the Black Swan, but this follow up is disappointing. There''s two reasons for this. the first is that Taleb seems to have explained his key thoughts in those earlier books, and there''s little new material here. The second is that Taleb suffers from what I would call ''Harry Potter Syndrome'', in that as he''s become more popular editors seem more reluctant to take a scalpel to his work (actually he repeatedly voices his disdain for editors). The result of this is 500 pages of rambling thoughts, and it''s hard to get to the end of it let alone draw any conclusions. I feel bad criticising Taleb as his earlier books made a huge impression on me, but this just isn''t up the same standards. Hopefully his publishers will lay down the law next time and insist on a more active editor.
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Karl Chama
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Like swimming in an ocean of words and contempt
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 7, 2019
I really, really wanted to like this book. I tried to read it and stick with it - I genuinely did. But Taleb literally was repeating the same thing over and over again to the point I thought that there had been an error in printing. The author''s disdain towards other...See more
I really, really wanted to like this book. I tried to read it and stick with it - I genuinely did. But Taleb literally was repeating the same thing over and over again to the point I thought that there had been an error in printing. The author''s disdain towards other academics and scholars using terms like the "Soviet-Harvard illusion" was quite off-putting and his use of "big-words-for-big-words-sake" really started to chafe. Honestly, I think that the ideas presented in the book are fantastic and worthy of praise but his tone, hubris and diatribes against others made the book unreadable. I''ve put it down and I won''t pick it up again. What a shame.
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Kevin Ramsey
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
interrupted by "wow I never thought of it like that before"
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 25, 2017
It''s hard to know where to stop when talking about this book. Some books are described as life changing, but are not. This one really is. I will never look at any aspect of my life again in quite the same way. I wish I''d read it years ago. I''m now buying it for my (adult)...See more
It''s hard to know where to stop when talking about this book. Some books are described as life changing, but are not. This one really is. I will never look at any aspect of my life again in quite the same way. I wish I''d read it years ago. I''m now buying it for my (adult) children. It can become a struggle to read at times but if it does, put it down and come back to it. Having said that most of the book is compulsive and humorous reading, interrupted by "wow I never thought of it like that before". I would however recommend reading "The Black Swan" first as I think you might miss the point of this book, at least initially, if you don''t.
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M. Ingham
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A MUST read.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 24, 2020
Not a super easy read. But, why should it be? Really. Life is far more complex than most folks would like to admit. Especially our politicians, bosses, leaders etc. A good focus on this book is very rewarding. There is a dreadful truth. Which is probably that most of the...See more
Not a super easy read. But, why should it be? Really. Life is far more complex than most folks would like to admit. Especially our politicians, bosses, leaders etc. A good focus on this book is very rewarding. There is a dreadful truth. Which is probably that most of the time we are kidding ourselves about the control and our resilience we really have. Whether it''s over our society, environment, the weather, conflicts and confrontations, physical, political, romantic, etc, etc. Life. Having just come through the first wave of Covid 19. I found it was a perfect example of Taleb''s concept. The topic presented in this work is 100% spot on. The response of the public governments and health providers was just as Taleb'' anticipates. The progress of Covid 19 through the global community was influenced by all the randomness and unpredictability that Taleb identifies as being massively influential on our everyday lives, yet un-recognised and discounted by most of us. I''m not saying the book is some kind of prophecy. No, the book is a description of the way people cope with, try to cope with, or don''t cope with reality and that which cannot be predicted. So, armed with Taleb''s thoughts and observations of the way that humans do and don''t cope with life, I feel that I now have something that I''m sure most of us want. Yet few of us have. An edge, over everyone else, which is simply, a better idea of how things happen and whats really going on. Also a little sadness that humans have a LONG way to go yet, before enough of us ''''Get it'''' . To make a worthwhile difference to our societies. Essential reading, if you would like to make the most of your life. Taleb, is not, by the way an un-educated scrawler of self help books. He has devoted a signifcant life time effort to producing three books this being the third, on the topic of ''randomness'' and how we cope or don''t cope with it. He is also clever enough to have made enough money and a reputation as a serious thinker, that he doesn''t have to write books for a living nor have them edited by a publisher in order to attract an audience. If folks don''t read his books it''s their loss.
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AK
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The author is certainly highly erudite and makes some excellent points but does so in a relatively wayward fashion
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 7, 2016
If you have read any of the previous Taleb books, such as The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable or Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets you are most likely not in for a surprise. The author is certainly highly erudite and...See more
If you have read any of the previous Taleb books, such as The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable or Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets you are most likely not in for a surprise. The author is certainly highly erudite and makes some excellent points but does so in a relatively blunt and confrontational manner (explaining the number of reviews giving alternatively 1 or 5 stars). In the current book he discusses the concept of anti-fragility, i.e. a feature of systems that benefit, rather than get harmed by unpredictability. There are lots of good points made and I certainly buy into the concept. We do tend to be fooled by randomness (pun intended) and do tend to discount rare events - much to our detriment. Where the success of the book will depend on the disposition of the reader much more, is it''s typically Taleb style. He is confrontational and that to an extent where quite some readers may be put off. While this does not bother me generally, I find that he actually belabored the point somewhat too much and that the book would definitely benefit from an abridgement to something like 300 pages. While I did not find any part of the book completely replaceable, the point does get a bit too repetitive after a while. If you want to get much of the content in a less confrontational, and slimmer volume, I recommend you try A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits Of Disorder first. If, however you have enjoyed his previous work, do go for it by all means - he is much the same (perhaps even a tad more extreme) as always and the content is certainly worthwhile.
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