The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable Hardcover – 3 May 2007
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'A deeply intelligent, provocative book ... Taleb succeeds in
bringing sceptical empiricism to the masses' -- The Economist
'A fascinating study of how we are regularly taken for suckers by the unexpected' -- Larry Elliot, Guardian
'A provocative macro-trend tome in the tradition of The Wisdom of
Crowds and The Tipping Point' -- Time
'A richly enjoyable read with an important message' -- BusinessWeek
'An idiosyncratically brilliant new book' -- Niall Ferguson, Sunday Telegraph
'An idiosyncratically brilliant new book'
-- Niall Ferguson, Sunday Telegraph
'Like the conversation of raconteur ... hugely enjoyable - compelling ... Beware the Black Swan' -- John Kay, Financial Times
'Mindblowing ... A masterpiece' -- Chris Anderson, Editor-in-Chief of Wired and author of The Long Tail
'Taleb's book deserves our attention, and our thanks' -- International Herald Tribune
'The Black Swan confirms his status as a guru for every would-be Damien Hirst, George Soros and aspirant despot' -- John Cornwell, Sunday Times
From the Publisher
Shortlisted for the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award 2007
Top Customer Reviews
The first is the author's inexplicable arrogance and sense of superiority.
The second is the endless trail of anecdotes, both real and fictional, that only seem to serve the purpose of diluting the content.
The author assigns himself a very easy task: to prove that many theoretical frameworks are not perfect based on sporadic errors. He then assumes that this observation justifies the complete dismissal of whole branches of academia without offering any substantial alternative account. He constantly dismisses ill-defined groups such as "economists", "historians", or even just all "academics" (!) with little more than anecdotal evidence, without ever engaging with the opposing views.
I imagine in the current climate of anti-intellectualism this book will resonate with many, but anybody who has dealt with the matter in any serious setting or is simply familiar with basic scholarly practice will find this quite lacking.
I did appreciate the frequent references to the much preferable book Thinking Fast and Slow by Kahneman, which focuses on the cognitive aspect of statistical reasoning and its failings. For anyone interested more in the shortcomings of predictive models, I would possibly recommend Weapons of Math Destruction by O'Neil.
I got bored by Taleb's strange in-jokes, preening and incessant stroking of his Übermensch ego. However, he's made a lot of what he calls "F--- you" money, so I don't doubt "F--- you" is exactly what he thinks of any negative reviews.
Flick through the reviews and you'll get the points he makes in a nutshell.
Forecasting is extremely difficult and usually little better than guessing. Most experts in social sciences, especially finance and economics, overrate themselves, proclaiming abilities they simply don't have (he uses the word "fraudster" many times). Risk analysis, and indeed all statistical work that relies on Gaussian assumptions, doesn't work because Gaussian assumptions don't hold in most real world situations, which are subject to "unknown unknowns". He cites the example of a casino which used mathematics to control its losses to gamblers but still lost a lot of money when an irreplaceable performer in their main show was maimed by a tiger, and when the owner's daughter was kidnapped. it nearly lost its licence when an irresponsible employee hid a bunch of tax returns instead of filing them. These, of course, are the black swans of the title.
It is easy to read and entertaining, with an engaging human touch. Its insights are largely valid and important. It is a useful provocative challenge to conventional thinking and a slap in the face to self-important economists who take themselves too seriously.
It is repetitive and could have been written in 50 pages. By the mid-point, the constant rubbishing of the entire scientific and mathematics community as fraudsters felt like a tiresome rant. Towards the end it felt like listening to the charismatic leader of a religious sect explaining that only he knew the truth and all those who didn't listen to him were damned. Indeed, the author is even more arrogant than those he attacks.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book was in my reading list quite long. I've come across the book and the concept in several occasions and I was really intrigued by the concept. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Marjusaari Ville
An interesting but ultimately frustrating book which covers the same basic premise multiple times, multiple different ways. Read morePublished 2 months ago by cheesemonster
I am not qualified to comment on the maths and philosophical competence of the author. But he appears to know his stuff. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Michael
Even if you are not that interested in probability and risk, this book is highly entertaining and packed with eye opening messages.Published 4 months ago by Erik
Ego trip for Taleb. Dull turgid book that tries to present many things as revelatory whereas in fact they are known and obvious. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Client d'Amazon
Thank you so much for the book. It looks like new! I love it!Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
..................................................................................................................................................................................... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
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