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Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets Paperback – 3 May 2007
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'An iconoclastic tour de force ... nothing escapes his Exocets' -- Evening Standard
-- John Kay
'Excellent and thought-provoking ... an entertaining book' -- Financial Times
'One of the smartest books of all time' -- Fortune
'Wall Street's principal dissident' -- Malcolm Gladwell
Everyone wants to succeed in life. But what causes some of us to be more successful than others? Is it really down to skill and strategy - or something altogether more unpredictable? This book is the word-of-mouth sensation that will change the way you think about business and the world. It is all about luck: more precisely, how we perceive luck in our personal and professional experiences. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the markets - we hear an entrepreneur has 'vision' or a trader is 'talented', but all too often their performance is down to chance rather than skill. It is only because we fail to understand probability that we continue to believe events are non-random, finding reasons where none exist. This irreverent bestseller has shattered the illusions of people around the world by teaching them how to recognize randomness. Now it can do the same for you.See all Product description
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Avoid this empty piece of fluff and go read "thinking fast and slow".
With the meltdown in the world financial system I felt drawn to reading Taleb's Fooled by Randomness written before the meltdown but in a way predicting it.
His main idea is that probability is not mere computation of the odds - it is the acceptance of the lack of certainty in our knowledge and developing methods for dealing with our ignorance. He attributes far more to luck than is generally credited and considers how we perceive luck. He focuses on how we attribute causes to outcomes - so just because two things happen so we believe that one causes the other. He accepts that skills count, but they count less in highly random environments than they do in dentistry. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the markets where we hear an entrepreneur has vision or a trader is talented. Taleb reckons their performance is often more down to chance rather than skill.
They then blindly follow a rising market or a booming trend without covering their downside in the event of a random unpredicted set of circumstances, so that they end up exposed to much greater loss than their accumulated gains. Proven by recent events??
Taleb prides himself on being an awkward iconoclast and spoils the book by his arrogance and sweeping and disdain of whole swathes of people. I dislike people who cannot respect their peers.
The book is disjointed and he introduces it as a personal essay primarily discussing the authors thoughts connected to the practice of risk taking. It is not compulsive reading but he does stimulate you to think.
It is also full of scientific jokes and it makes people stop taking science so seriously or reconsider the next "ground breaking model for pricing of financial assets"...