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.
Black Swan edition 2
Well worth the time to read. Opened my eyes to a different way to think.
Few refreshing ideas but a bit outlandish and too long
Interesting book with a few good takeaways and original ideas. Could be much shorter though. There are some topics where the author is trying to be too bombastic/outlandish but that’s understandable- the book sells better that way. Also, his obsession with being against the Gaussian distribution becomes a little irritating later in the book- he just keeps repeating himself.
Honestly and embarrassingly I purchased this book thinking the movie "Black Swan" was based off it.
It isn't. Clearly.
Having said that, this is one of the most interesting reads I've ever had. While it feels like a text book, the author does a marvelous job of enveloping you in his theories.
The iPad version is great as many times ive found myself using the dictionary and wiki links... Which has furthered my understanding and enjoyment of this text.