THE BLACK SWAN
The Impact of the Highly Improbable
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Think about a totally unimaginable happening, one that may even seem inconsequential, and yet with enormous global repercussion. The financial crisis that blindsided the USA in 2008 and spread globally, the birth of the World Wide Web, 9/11, and the rise of religious fanaticism.
The Black Swan is a provocative, persuasive eye opener in its examination of ‘preparing for the unimaginable.’
Taleb’s exploration of risk and uncertainty at a time and future of turbulent change is treated in an acerbically humorous engaging manner.
He outlines the three critical aspects of a black Swan:
- Its potential lies beyond normal rational expectation because history shows no likeness to its occurrence.
- The result is both extraordinary and extreme.
- In its aftermath human nature mistakenly assures us that the event was explainable and predictable.
Taleb stresses the principle that we are blind to random events, focusing on the here and now while avoiding the possibility of catastrophe or even serendipity.
From The Book:
“The inability to predict outliers implies the inability to predict the course of history.”
“The pathology of thinking that the world in which we live is more understandable, more explainable, and therefore more predictable than it actually is.”
“How can we know the future given knowledge of the past; or, more generally, how can we figure out properties of the (infinite) unknown based on the (finite) known?”
“Something has worked in the past, until-well, it unexpectedly no longer does, and what we have learned from the past turns out to be at best irrelevant or false, at worst viciously misleading.”
“I am not advocating risk phobia; all I will be showing you in this book is how to avoid crossing the street blindfolded.”