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
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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.
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The author is a deep thinker about probability and scientific methodology and is extremely well-read in philosophy. A real pleasure to read, and a real eye-opener on what is actually behind the success of businesses, business people, traders, and just about anything else you care to mention. He particularly highlights the folly of believing the 'magic touch' of the likes of central bankers, economists and MBAs, as well as explaining how and why most journalism is toxic. He'll show you just how truly ignorant and fallible 'experts' tend to be, and why.
Okay, so I'm a fan of philosophy of science and scientific methodology. For me, reading this was like coming home and getting into a warm bath. I wish everyone would read it so that we could change society for the better by ridding ourselves of overpaid CEOs, idiotic central bankers and poor journalism.
Our brain is biased in many ways (with no doubt in different degrees from person to person) and the mindset most of us got from our education just isn't adjusted to deal with chance. What this book does is to explain how we let our biases influence our decisions, and why do we have those biases in the first place. All of this in a soft and fun way to read, but at the same time with very profound arguments.
I liked the fact that Taleb recommends not reading newspapers or watching TV news, I like his anti-corporate dandyism, too. He makes a sweeping statement about how self-help books don't work, which I didn't agree with, particularly because I think this book is a rather smart and elegant self-help book written by a very funny guy.
I work as a speechwriter and this book is crammed full of colour that can be recycled for that kind of exercise. If you don't use it for that it will liven up your dinner-party conversation.
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