The Black Swan: Second Edition

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Score: 3.5 0 5
3.5
122 Ratings

The Black Swan: Second Edition Book Summary


The Black Swan is a standalone book in Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s landmark Incerto series, an investigation of opacity, luck, uncertainty, probability, human error, risk, and decision-making in a world we don’t understand. The other books in the series are Fooled by Randomness, Antifragile, and The Bed of Procrustes.

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.
 
Praise for Nassim Nicholas Taleb
 
“The most prophetic voice of all.”—GQ
 
Praise for The Black Swan
 
“[A book] that altered modern thinking.”The Times (London)
 
“A masterpiece.”—Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired, author of The Long Tail
 
“Idiosyncratically brilliant.”—Niall Ferguson, Los Angeles Times
 
The Black Swan changed my view of how the world works.”—Daniel Kahneman, Nobel laureate
 
“[Taleb writes] in a style that owes as much to Stephen Colbert as it does to Michel de Montaigne. . . . We eagerly romp with him through the follies of confirmation bias [and] narrative fallacy.”—The Wall Street Journal
 
“Hugely enjoyable—compelling . . . easy to dip into.”Financial Times
 
“Engaging . . . The Black Swan has appealing cheek and admirable ambition.”—The New York Times Book Review

From the Hardcover edition.



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The Black Swan: Second Edition - Nassim Nicholas Taleb Reviews

  • Good read for science illiterates

    By larrybreyer
    3
    Autobiographical meanderings that total up to one simple idea, life is unpredictable. As the son of an engineer, I learned early in life that the governing principle of engineering is called, light-heartedly, "Murphy's Law." Though many corollaries have been developed over the years, like "the time it takes to complete a project will expand to the time allotted," the main thesis is that, "anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, and at the worst possible time." Taleb does make one good point in a previous book he authored, the soft sciences are not science at all. Anything that involves humans is unpredictable because we have the ability to predict, and thus antiicpate and alter the future. Inadvertantly perhaps, he provides a very simple and logical definition of Free Will.
  • Few insights masked by tons of BS

    By Retired Sea Kapt.
    1
    The few insights the author offers are masked by page after page of cutesy, boring prose. One of the most un-worthwhile tomes I have ever invested in. I am terribly disappointed.
  • Great on multiple levels

    By Aim high.
    5
    This book is a roller coaster — fast and slow. It left indelible marks before and after i read it in 2012, and in repetitions since then. Densely packed, but packed that for good reason… name Taleb could find no better way. His heated passion for subjected matter comes through again and again. Not light reading material — but takes repetition and time to digest. Can be thrilling, dizzying like a roller coaster. But unlike the primarily entertainment focus of a roller coaster Taleb’s entertainment goal not main one.
  • Unreadable.

    By R Brent
    1
    Page after boring page of self-indulgent tripe. Larded with cross-references that don't work.
  • Black Swan a Must Read...

    By AvgDude
    5
    This book crystalized something I first sensed the day after 9/11… That unexpected, epic events often play out just the opposite of conventional wisdom and are often misinterpreted in hindsight. Because of this need to explain things that could not be predicted, we live in a sort of false history and seem to be painting ourselves into a corner in terms of laws and rights and wars in a sad effort to stop events we can't possibly predict. Taleb is a true genius.
  • The Black Swan is a must read!

    By NYCTraders
    4
    This book has changed my thoughts on how a lot of things actually work. I live in the US and am astouned at the insight provided here. Go buy to today. You will not regret it.
  • Black Swan edition 2

    By LoAlaska
    4
    Well worth the time to read. Opened my eyes to a different way to think.
  • Opened my eyes.

    By BetterNow
    5
    This book opened my eyes to a new way of looking at many different aspects of markets, experts, and my own expertise. Any book that can do that is worth time and attention.
  • Wow.

    By CognizeTyler
    5
    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. Highly recommended.
  • Mind Altering

    By Stevestro
    5
    Changed my life and how I view the world.

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