The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable Paperback – 28 Feb 2008
|New from||Used from|
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Great fun … brash, stubborn, entertaining, opinionated, curious, cajoling (Freakonomics)
An idiosyncratically brilliant new book (Sunday Telegraph)
A fascinating study of how we are regularly taken for suckers by the unexpected (Guardian)
Like the conversation of a raconteur ... hugely enjoyable - compelling (Financial Times)
Confirms his status as a guru for every would-be Damien Hirst, George Soros and aspirant despot (Sunday Times)
In the tradition of The Wisdom of Crowds and The Tipping Point (Time)
From the Publisher
Shortlisted for the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award 2007
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?
Top Customer Reviews
- Content: makes insightful points on limitations of our knowledge, human temptation to identify false trends and narratives, follow herd mentality, blindly follow 'experts', and so forth. He calls this 'skeptical empiricism'.
- Style: long-winded and rambling, skipping from personal stories from Lebanon, to parables intended to represent the author, to dull discussions on history of mathematics. I didn't mind it, but some readers hate it.
- Author: massively arrogant and up himself. Thinks he's had the best idea since sliced bread. He's got a good idea, but he's not the first or the only one, just the one with the biggest mouth.
- Other reads: there are better books out there on similar subjects. John Kay (of the FT) writes essays from a similar position, much more concisely and more to the point.
Hope that helps!
The qualification is that his big idea is not original, though his numerous examples do help bring home its ubiquity. More problematically, he overstates its usefulness. For when it comes to calling your next move, the unpredictable and the unexpected are, by definition, not things we can anticipate. And though he is right that in the long run there will undoubtedly by high impact improbably events, it is also true, as Keynes said, that in the long run we are all dead: organising your life on the principle that something radical might come along doesn't solve the everyday problem of what to next.
In short, he exaggerates his own insight and the authority it gives him. That's a wicked irony, for the chief target of his ire is those with an exaggerated sense of insight and control over their lives.
Oh, and the tone... Taleb wants to be seen as a radical iconoclast. Every sentence drips righteousness and often irritation. He is the strutting, impatient sage, the rest of us blinkered morons. Apparently he doesn't like his editors trying to change this. A word of advice to the author: if you want your advice heeded, don't shout and sneer at your audience. For this reason, an interesting thesis, but in the end a wearisome read.
The central theme of the book is that unexpected random events are much more likely to have far greater impact than is presumed by traditional statistics . In contrast he shows that there are domains where extreme events or values are more frequent and dominate overall. Taleb's arguments are convincing and he also shows why prediction in general is very difficult and describes human being's desires to post-rationalise events. Because prediction is thus impossible and because the impact of these extreme random events (the 'Black Swans') is so large his argument is that this makes a mockery of much of history, economics and financial theory.
The main problem with the book is the tone of the author. Taleb clearly does not suffer fools gladly and it seems that he considers most people in economics, finance, statistics and academia as fools. He comes across as believing that he is the only one who really gets these ideas. His constant attacks on the 'dark suits' and academics (not to mention several strange jibes at the French) become very wearing. Also his dismissal of the normal distribution is overdone since there are clearly areas where it works well.
All in all a very good book but I wish he would overcome his arrogance before the next one.
As for the statistics, it is amateur stuff. The Black Swan itself is an improbable event on which the author places far too much emphasis. It soon becomes confused and contradictory. Originally boldly stating that bell curve analysis is all Information (or is it Intellectual?) fraud, in later chapters the author then splits outcomes up into factions, some of which are affected by the black swan and some that are not. It then becomes apparent that the author has taken five chapters to split outcomes into normal and non-normal. Ground breaking stuff, that has, errm, been around for centuries. Essentially this book ends up elaborating on the phrase 'Picking pennies in front of a steam roller' which is so familiar to all that, well, there is a phrase for it. This book is an irrelevance to statisticians. I cannot comment on the philosophy side, but, as far as I can see, there isnt a viewpoint that hasnt been borrowed from someone more famous. In short, this book is a huge disappointment.
It should also be noted that this book is unduly aggressive and self opinionated. I assume that this is to add gravitas to the subject. On this point it fails miserably. Instead it makes the author appear narcissistic, unbalanced, and, yes, a bit stupid. Its likely that many people who start this book will lack the desire to finish it. And that, sad to say, isnt a bad thing.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The central themes of this book hold considerable interest. These include: the human tendency to seek explanations for events through a process of what's sometimes called... Read morePublished 1 day ago by William Jordan
If I could rate this 10/5 I would.
the most profound risk/investment/philosophy book I have ever had the priviledge to read.
Watch his videos on utube too!
A good read evidencing how black swan events can catch the global financial system by surprise. Although if you live in Australia you would not be surprised to see a black swan. Read morePublished 2 months ago by ChrisMR
Really interesting book about the effects of the unexpected. Taleb is entertaining writer and has unique viewpoint.Published 3 months ago by JiSe
Look for similar items by category
- Books > Business, Finance & Law > Economics
- Books > Business, Finance & Law > Management > Management Skills > Decision Making
- Books > Computing & Internet > Digital Lifestyle > Online Shopping > Amazon
- Books > Health, Family & Lifestyle > Psychology & Psychiatry
- Books > Science & Nature > Mathematics > Education > Higher Education
- Books > Science & Nature > Mathematics > Education > Teaching Aids
- Books > Science & Nature > Mathematics > Popular Maths
- Books > Science & Nature > Mathematics > Probability & Statistics
- Books > Science & Nature > Mathematics > Reference
- Books > Science & Nature > Reference > Psychology & Psychiatry
- Books > Scientific, Technical & Medical > Mathematics > Applied Mathematics > Statistics & Probability
- Books > Society, Politics & Philosophy > Philosophy
- Books > Society, Politics & Philosophy > Social Sciences > Communication Studies > Media & Communication Industries