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The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly…

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (edition 2008)

by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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5,343131821 (3.73)1 / 85
Title:The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
Authors:Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Info:Penguin (2008), Paperback, 480 pages
Collections:Read but unowned

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The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb


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English (117)  Spanish (3)  Italian (3)  Dutch (3)  French (1)  German (1)  Czech (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (130)
Showing 1-5 of 117 (next | show all)
A very interesting book. Don't quite know how to review it as I am still digesting it's import. The author seems to have committed to words spasms and bouts of flashbacks gleaned from general observations. The last few pages are quite interesting and would mirror the life anyone trying to lead a practical and well grounded life. A practical doer who is always humble and questioning of his own knowledge while always trying to seek and learn from all sources possible.
  danoomistmatiste | Jan 24, 2016 |
Mr Taleb defines a Black Swan as an event that is unexpected, has an extreme impact and is made to seem predictable by explanations exposed afterwards. The September 11th 2001 attacks and the rise of the internet are given as examples of outliers. I liked that unknown uncertainties are put in a perspective type. This really makes you wonder what the beliefs we currently have that will totally upended be a new discovery that no one predicated. The book doesn't give predictions, but gives a new perspective in estimating uncertainty. He suggests concentrating on the consequences of Black Swans, which can be known, rather than on the probability that they will occur. ( )
  hayward55444 | Jan 24, 2016 |
A very interesting book. Don't quite know how to review it as I am still digesting it's import. The author seems to have committed to words spasms and bouts of flashbacks gleaned from general observations.
  kkhambadkone | Jan 17, 2016 |
NNT discreetly drops hotshot names and shits on them, drops some other names and worships them to disabuse the reader of the notion that NNT is crazy, and creates so many new words using the prefix schm- that the reader finishes this book with two things learned: what's a black swan and how to use the prefix schm-. And no doubt two important things to know too.

All in all, fantastic read. ( )
  StanleyPhang | Dec 11, 2015 |
I'm a bit hesitant to summarise this book as the author says in a postscript essay that much of the reaction to the book has misunderstood it, but here goes.

The Black Swan of the title refers to the European belief that all swans are white until the Europeans got to Australia and found that there were indeed black swans. Hence, the author coins the phrase "Black Swan event" for rare events that cannot be foreseen and which have massive consequences. Although the odds of a particular event might be very small, the odds of something among the many possibilities happening is not. Whether they cannot be foreseen because it is intrinsically impossible or because we don't have enough information is irrelevant. Although after the event people will come up with 'causes' that is due to the way our minds work, we can't cope with just dumb luck.

Actually the problem is made worse by the illusory confidence produced by the use of sophisticated statistical projections based on probabilities because such tools are being used by people who don't really understand them and being applied to situations which they are not really suitable for. They work fine for controlled situations like calculating the odds in a casino or for physical attributes where the amount of possible variation is limited but not for the complex situations real life offers.

All we can do is attempt to reduce the harm done by unforeseen catastrophic events but an inter-related globalised system where certain entities are "too big to fail" magnifies the damage rather than reduces it.

A mind-stretching book, partly because of the subject matter and partly because clarity of exposition is not always the author's strong point. For example, if you haven't already read the book or aren't familiar with the author's work, the introduction/prologue is very hard to follow. ( )
  Robertgreaves | Nov 13, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 117 (next | show all)
Since the book was written prior to the current situation, many of the insights will seem prophetic. For instance, “regulators in the banking business are prone to a severe expert problem and they tend to condone reckless but (hidden) risk taking.” Some might think that the book specifically predicted the current market and economic crisis—wrong. The book is about the expectation that it could occur.
added by dtw42 | editBusiness Economics, Gerald L Musgrave (pay site) (Aug 11, 2011)

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Nassim Nicholas Talebprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pietiläinen, KimmoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Benoît Mandelbrot, a Greek among Romans
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Before the discovery of Australia, people in the Old World were convinced that all swans were white, an unassailable belief as it seemed completely confirmed by empirical evidence.
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Die beste Strategie besteht also darin, möglichst viel auszuprobieren und möglichst viele Chancen, aus den sich Schwarze Schwäne ergeben könnten, zu ergreifen.
Die narrative Verzerrung ist Ausdruck unserer eingeschränkten Fähigkeit, Reihen von Fakten zu betrachten, ohne eine Erklärung in sie hineinzuweben oder, was dasselbe bedeutet, gewaltsam eine logische Verknüpfung, einen Beziehungspfeil zwischen ihnen herzustellen. Erklärungen binden Fakten zusammen. Sie sorgen dafür, dass wir uns viel leichter an sie erinnern können, dass sie mehr Sinn ergeben. Diese Neigung kann uns aber in die Irre führen, wenn sie unseren Eindruck, dass wir verstehen, verstärkt.
Wir sind soziale Tiere; die Hölle sind andere Menschen.
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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Table of Contents from Worldcat:

Umberto Eco's antilibrary, or how we seek validation. The apprenticeship of an empirical skeptic ; Yevgenia's black swan ; The speculator and the prostitute ; One thousand and one days, or how not to be a sucker ; Confirmation shmonfirmation! ; The narrative fallacy ; Living in the antechamber of hope ; Giacomo Casanova's unfailing luck : the problem of silent evidence ; The Ludic fallacy, or the uncertainty of the nerd -- We just can't predict. The scandal of prediction ; How to look for bird poop ; Epistemocracy, a dream ; Appelles the Painter, or what do you do if you cannot predict? -- Those gray swans of Extremistan. From Mediocristan to Extremistan and back ; The bell curve, that great intellectual fraud ; The aesthetics of randomness ; Locke's madmen, or bell curves in the wrong places ; The uncertainty of the phony -- The end. Half and half, or how to get even with the black swan -- Epilogue : Yevgenia's white swans.
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"A 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."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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