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Publisher Description

The most influential book of the past seventy-five years: a groundbreaking exploration of everything we know about what we don’t know, now with a new section called “On Robustness and Fragility.”

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. In this revelatory book, Taleb will change the way you look at the world, and this second edition features a new philosophical and empirical essay, “On Robustness and Fragility,” which offers tools to navigate and exploit a Black Swan world.

Taleb is a vastly entertaining writer, with wit, irreverence, and unusual stories to tell. He has a polymathic command of subjects ranging from cognitive science to business to probability theory. Elegant, startling, and universal in its applications, The Black Swan is a landmark book—itself a black swan.

Business & Personal Finance
April 17
Random House Publishing Group
Penguin Random House Canada

Customer Reviews

Ian O'Shaughnessy ,


Very few of the ideas in this book were insightful, and overall the book was non-cohesive. Many straw man anecdotes were used, few were actually convincing.

Nassim, this is what we call an 'Informational Fallacy', perhaps you should have looked that one up instead of spending so much time explaining other fallacies and biases by proping up these straw men.

Far too much time was spent being overly verbose, and frequent ramblings by the author stroking his ego about how much of a "thinker" he is, dropping the names of famous minds and philosophers.

He repeatedly attacks authority as being clueless, yet quotes that same authority when convenient.

Main themes of this book:

a) Everyone is an idiot and can't predict anything, ever.
b) Norms and trends are completely useless in prediction.
c) Uncommon occurances are all one should focus on.
d) Unless something can be absolutely proven, we should assume it to be wrong.

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