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Nassim Nicholas Taleb quotes (showing 1-30 of 253)

“It has been more profitable for us to bind together in the wrong direction than to be alone in the right one.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
“The writer Umberto Eco belongs to that small class of scholars who are encyclopedic, insightful, and nondull. He is the owner of a large personal library (containing thirty thousand books), and separates visitors into two categories: those who react with “Wow! Signore, professore dottore Eco, what a library you have ! How many of these books have you read?” and the others - a very small minority - who get the point that a private library is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you don’t know as your financial means, mortgage rates and the currently tight real-estate market allows you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menancingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
“When you develop your opinions on the basis of weak evidence, you will have difficulty interpreting subsequent information that contradicts these opinions, even if this new information is obviously more accurate.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
“Charm is the ability to insult people without offending them; nerdiness the reverse”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
“Things always become obvious after the fact”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
“Missing a train is only painful if you run after it! Likewise, not matching the idea of success others expect from you is only painful if that’s what you are seeking.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
“Heroes are heroes because they are heroic in behavior, not because they won or lost.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets
“A Stoic is someone who transforms fear into prudence, pain into transformation, mistakes into initiation, and desire into undertaking.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
“People focus on role models; it is more effective to find antimodels - people you don't want to resemble when you grow up”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
“The difference between technology and slavery is that slaves are fully aware that they are not free”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
“The best way to measure the loss of intellectual sophistication - this "nerdification," to put it bluntly - is in the growing disappearance of sarcasm, as mechanic minds take insults a bit too literally.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms
“If you hear a "prominent" economist using the word 'equilibrium,' or 'normal distribution,' do not argue with him; just ignore him, or try to put a rat down his shirt.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
“Some can be more intelligent than others in a structured environment—in fact school has a selection bias as it favors those quicker in such an environment, and like anything competitive, at the expense of performance outside it. Although I was not yet familiar with gyms, my idea of knowledge was as follows. People who build their strength using these modern expensive gym machines can lift extremely large weights, show great numbers and develop impressive-looking muscles, but fail to lift a stone; they get completely hammered in a street fight by someone trained in more disorderly settings. Their strength is extremely domain-specific and their domain doesn't exist outside of ludic—extremely organized—constructs. In fact their strength, as with over-specialized athletes, is the result of a deformity. I thought it was the same with people who were selected for trying to get high grades in a small number of subjects rather than follow their curiosity: try taking them slightly away from what they studied and watch their decomposition, loss of confidence, and denial. (Just like corporate executives are selected for their ability to put up with the boredom of meetings, many of these people were selected for their ability to concentrate on boring material.) I've debated many economists who claim to specialize in risk and probability: when one takes them slightly outside their narrow focus, but within the discipline of probability, they fall apart, with the disconsolate face of a gym rat in front of a gangster hit man.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder
“The psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer has a simple heuristic. Never ask the doctor what you should do. Ask him what he would do if he were in your place. You would be surprised at the difference”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder
“They will envy you for your success, your wealth, for your intelligence, for your looks, for your status - but rarely for your wisdom.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms
“Few understand that procrastination is our natural defense, letting things take care of themselves and exercise their antifragility; it results from some ecological or naturalistic wisdom, and is not always bad -- at an existential level, it is my body rebelling against its entrapment. It is my soul fighting the Procrustean bed of modernity.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder
“Doctors most commonly get mixed up between absence of evidence and evidence of abense”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
“When you beat up someone physically, you get excercise and stress relief; when you assault him verbally on the Internet, you just harm yourself.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms
“If there is something in nature you don't understand, odds are it makes sense in a deeper way that is beyond your understanding. So there is a logic to natural things that is much superior to our own. Just as there is a dichotomy in law: 'innocent until proven guilty' as opposed to 'guilty until proven innocent', let me express my rule as follows: what Mother Nature does is rigorous until proven otherwise; what humans and science do is flawed until proven otherwise.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder
“A prophet is not someone with special visions, just someone blind to most of what others see”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms
“If you have more than one reason to do something (choose a doctor or veterinarian, hire a gardener or an employee, marry a person, go on a trip), just don’t do it. It does not mean that one reason is better than two, just that by invoking more than one reason you are trying to convince yourself to do something. Obvious decisions (robust to error) require no more than a single reason.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

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