Nassim Taleb

Books Recommended By

Nassim Taleb

Nassim Nicholas Taleb is a Lebanese-American essayist, scholar, mathematical statistician, and former option trader and risk analyst, whose work concerns problems of randomness, probability, and uncertainty.
Recommended Books
Written Books

Explaining Social Behavior

Jon Elster

Recommended By

The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature

Steven Pinker

Recommended By

The Blank Swan: The End of Probability

Elie Ayache

Recommended By

Mapping the Mind

Rita Carter

Recommended By

Bull!: A History of the Boom and Bust, 1982-2004

Maggie Mahar

Recommended By

The Doctrine of Deification in the Greek Patristic Tradition

Norman Russell

Recommended By

Birth of a Theorem: A Mathematical Adventure

Cédric Villani

Recommended By

Happy Accidents: Serendipity in Modern Medical Breakthroughs

Morton A. Meyers

Recommended By

The Mind Doesn't Work That Way

Jerry A. Fodor

Recommended By

Free The Animal: Lose Weight & Fat With The Paleo Diet

Richard Nikoley

Recommended By

I Think, Therefore I Laugh

John Allen Paulos

Recommended By

Financial Derivatives: Pricing, Applications, and Mathematics

Jamil Baz

Recommended By

The Count of Monte Cristo

Alexandre Dumas

Recommended By

Modern Aramaic (Assyrinan/Syriac) Dictionary

Nicholas Awde

Recommended By

Intellectual Life in the Middle Ages

Lesley M. Smith

Recommended By

Nassim Taleb: "Excellent book"

The Wisdom Paradox

Elkhonon Goldberg

Recommended By

Thinking and Deciding

Jonathan Baron

Recommended By

Antifragile

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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.

The Black Swan

Nassim Taleb

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 explains everything we know about what we don’t know, 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.

Elegant, startling, and universal in its applications, The Black Swan will change the way you look at the 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. The Black Swan is a landmark book—itself a black swan.

Fooled By Randomness

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Fooled by Randomness is the word-of-mouth sensation that will change the way you think about business and the world. Nassim Nicholas Taleb–veteran trader, renowned risk expert, polymathic scholar, erudite raconteur, and New York Times bestselling author of The Black Swan–has written a modern classic that turns on its head what we believe about luck and skill.

This book is about luck–or more precisely, about how we perceive and deal with luck in life and business. Set against the backdrop of the most conspicuous forum in which luck is mistaken for skill–the world of trading–Fooled by Randomness provides captivating insight into one of the least understood factors in all our lives. Writing in an entertaining narrative style, the author tackles major intellectual issues related to the underestimation of the influence of happenstance on our lives.

The book is populated with an array of characters, some of whom have grasped, in their own way, the significance of chance: the baseball legend Yogi Berra; the philosopher of knowledge Karl Popper; the ancient world’s wisest man, Solon; the modern financier George Soros; and the Greek voyager Odysseus. We also meet the fictional Nero, who seems to understand the role of randomness in his professional life but falls victim to his own superstitious foolishness.

However, the most recognizable character of all remains unnamed–the lucky fool who happens to be in the right place at the right time–he embodies the “survival of the least fit.” Such individuals attract devoted followers who believe in their guru’s insights and methods. But no one can replicate what is obtained by chance.

Are we capable of distinguishing the fortunate charlatan from the genuine visionary? Must we always try to uncover nonexistent messages in random events? It may be impossible to guard ourselves against the vagaries of the goddess Fortuna, but after reading Fooled by Randomness we can be a little better prepared.

Skin In The Game

Nassim Taleb

In his most provocative and practical book yet, one of the foremost thinkers of our time redefines what it means to understand the world, succeed in a profession, contribute to a fair and just society, detect nonsense, and influence others. Citing examples ranging from Hammurabi to Seneca, Antaeus the Giant to Donald Trump, Nassim Nicholas Taleb shows how the willingness to accept one’s own risks is an essential attribute of heroes, saints, and flourishing people in all walks of life.

As always both accessible and iconoclastic, Taleb challenges long-held beliefs about the values of those who spearhead military interventions, make financial investments, and propagate religious faiths. Among his insights:

  • For social justice, focus on symmetry and risk sharing. You cannot make profits and transfer the risks to others, as bankers and large corporations do. You cannot get rich without owning your own risk and paying for your own losses. Forcing skin in the game corrects this asymmetry better than thousands of laws and regulations.
  • Ethical rules aren’t universal. You’re part of a group larger than you, but it’s still smaller than humanity in general.
  • Minorities, not majorities, run the world. The world is not run by consensus but by stubborn minorities imposing their tastes and ethics on others.
  • You can be an intellectual yet still be an idiot. “Educated philistines” have been wrong on everything from Stalinism to Iraq to low-carb diets.
  • Beware of complicated solutions (that someone was paid to find). A simple barbell can build muscle better than expensive new machines.
  • True religion is commitment, not just faith. How much you believe in something is manifested only by what you’re willing to risk for it.

The phrase “skin in the game” is one we have often heard but rarely stopped to truly dissect. It is the backbone of risk management, but it’s also an astonishingly rich worldview that, as Taleb shows in this book, applies to all aspects of our lives. As Taleb says, “The symmetry of skin in the game is a simple rule that’s necessary for fairness and justice, and the ultimate BS-buster,” and “Never trust anyone who doesn’t have skin in the game. Without it, fools and crooks will benefit, and their mistakes will never come back to haunt them.”

The Bed of Procrustes

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

By the author of the modern classic The Black Swan, this collection of aphorisms and meditations expresses his major ideas in ways you least expect.

The Bed of Procrustes takes its title from Greek mythology: the story of a man who made his visitors fit his bed to perfection by either stretching them or cutting their limbs. It represents Taleb’s view of modern civilization’s hubristic side effects—modifying humans to satisfy technology, blaming reality for not fitting economic models, inventing diseases to sell drugs, defining intelligence as what can be tested in a classroom, and convincing people that employment is not slavery.

Playful and irreverent, these aphorisms will surprise you by exposing self-delusions you have been living with but never recognized.

With a rare combination of pointed wit and potent wisdom, Taleb plows through human illusions, contrasting the classical values of courage, elegance, and erudition against the modern diseases of nerdiness, philistinism, and phoniness.

Statistical Consequences of Fat Tails

Nassim Taleb

The book investigates the misapplication of conventional statistical techniques to fat tailed distributions and looks for remedies, when possible. Switching from thin tailed to fat tailed distributions requires more than “changing the color of the dress.”

Traditional asymptotics deal mainly with either n=1 or n=∞, and the real world is in between, under the “laws of the medium numbers”–which vary widely across specific distributions. Both the law of large numbers and the generalized central limit mechanisms operate in highly idiosyncratic ways outside the standard Gaussian or Levy-Stable basins of convergence.

A few examples:

  • The sample mean is rarely in line with the population mean, with effect on “naïve empiricism,” but can be sometimes be estimated via parametric methods.
  • The “empirical distribution” is rarely empirical.
  • Parameter uncertainty has compounding effects on statistical metrics.
  • Dimension reduction (principal components) fails.
  • Inequality estimators (Gini or quantile contributions) are not additive and produce wrong results.
  • Many “biases” found in psychology become entirely rational under more sophisticated probability distributions.
  • Most of the failures of financial economics, econometrics, and behavioral economics can be attributed to using the wrong distributions.

This book, the first volume of the Technical Incerto, weaves a narrative around published journal articles.

Book Genres
I participate in Amazon's Associates program. As an Amazon Associate I may earn a small commission on products you purchase through Amazon, but you won't pay any additional fees.
Privacy Policy
Terms and Conditions