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Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder
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Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  8,519 ratings  ·  776 reviews
From the bestselling author of The Black Swan and one of the foremost philosophers of our time, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a book on how some systems actually benefit from disorder.

In The Black Swan Taleb outlined a problem; in Antifragility he offers a definitive solution: how to gain from disorder and chaos while being protected from fragilities and adverse events. For what...more
Hardcover, 713 pages
Published November 27th 2012 by Random House (first published 2012)
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Val Delane
Taleb seems constitutionally angry, dismissive, and contrarian--sometimes to the point of being an asshole. However, one cannot deny his talent of conveying crucially important concepts in a clear and entertaining fashion. I would rather have every one of my biases and heuristics kicked around so I will reconsider where they came from--and whether to keep them--than be coddled and comforted.

Perhaps the best heuristic reminders I received from this book: 1/ Invest (trust) in people, not plans. 2/...more
Pete Welter
"Antifragile" is a book that is difficult to summarize. I'll try to mention a few major ideas. If they come out confusing, it's my fault - read the book :)

Unlike many books of this genre, which spend 200 pages padding a 5 page idea, Antifragile is a fractal of a book, taking it's central ideas and examining and applying them in myriad ways. In that way, it as rich on page 400 as it is on page 2.

Taleb is an independent thinker who is almost impossible to categorize. In fact he revels in question...more
Andrew Shaffer
The author goes to extreme lengths to make up new words or turn common sense wisdom on its head. "Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder and stressors.... Yet, in spite of the ubiquity of the phenomenon, there is no word for the exact opposite of fragile. Let us call it antifragile." Really? The word "adaptable" wouldn't suffice? "Antifragile" is not the last word he makes up, either. Instead of writing the word "brave," for instanc...more
Jay
Taleb has some great ideas. Unfortunately, he also has what he calls "FU money," which allows him to do what he wants without suffering fools. Which, for Taleb, includes pretty much anyone, including editors, whose help he could use.

When are two similar ideas not really the same? Taleb takes the human immune response and the muscle hypertrophy response to resistance training as examples of the same thing--systems responding to stress by getting better able to handle the stress. And they do have...more
Alfredo
This book has been such a disappointment...

It started absolutely great and has an idea (antifragility) that is worthy and notable and interesting. Wait, let me back up from the beginning: I could not finish this book.

When I read non fiction I tend to stick to certain rules:

1) I want to learn from the books I read. I tend not to read Mathematics, for example, except in formal context, since normally when I read Math being exposed to the general public I noticed how poorly they are really explaini...more
Ken Baumann
Second read: Read this over a weeklong break of long walks, silence, and privacy. The book is no less forceful, vigorous, entertaining; I felt no less provoked to live well.

First read: I respect Taleb more than most. His life's work, as a writer, has been to help people better navigate the hidden complexities and risks of living right now. It's an incredibly noble project, and not sexy on paper, but Taleb's also an artist, and so this book—which sums up and bolsters his prior work—feels like a f...more
Annie
Antifagile points out the value of systems that gain from disorder, chaos, or volatility. For example, a fragile state is catching a disease, a neutral state is avoiding exposure to anyone infected with the disease, and antifragile state is being vaccinated (where a small dosage produces immunity to the disease). There are many examples in the book, like lack of physical exertion, walking, and jogging. The rigorous activity of jogging increases health benefits, whereas no stressors to the body m...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
I've been reading this book, Antifragile, for almost four weeks. I call it reading. I've turned all the pages. I've read all the words. That's reading, right?

Or is it?

I started off pretty well, somehow managing to get my brain around the whole idea of antifragile, a word the author, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, admits he made up. There is no real word in English that properly names this idea. Everyone understands the idea of fragile, something that is destroyed when stressed. But the opposite of fragi...more
Jsavett1
In the conclusion of this book, Taleb reports that a friend of his asked him to explain his core argument while standing on one foot. Obviously an allusion to the famous story in which a gentile promises to convert if Rabbi Hillel can explain Judaism while standing on one foot, Taleb offers, "the best way to verify if you are alive is to check whether you like variations."

I'll admit at the beginning of this review: there were sections of this book I had to skip. More on why in a bit.

Taleb's the...more
Herve
Here’s probably one of the toughest review I ever had to write and I am not sure it is a good one, even if the topic I am addressing is great and important. But it’s been a challenge to summarize what I learnt: Nicholas Nassim Taleb gives in this follow-up to the Black Swan a very interesting analysis of how the world can be less exposed to Black Swans, not by becoming more robust only, but by becoming antifragile, i.e. by benefiting from random events. His views include tensions between the ind...more
David
pretty interesting basic idea that some things are not just robust/resilient/non-fragile (able to stay the same or bounce back after being subjected to stress) but actually "antifragile" or improved from their encounters with stress or disorder. An obvious example is the stress/recovery/supercompensation cycle with strenuous exercise, such that you come back from the challenge improved. He applies it much more broadly -- medicine, economic system, evolution, etc. Highly erudite writer. Makes som...more
Dmitri
What a frustrating book.

10% of it was brilliant and original ideas - I was very glad to learn about antifragility and optionality as it relates to life and business.

Unfortunately, the other 90% of it was spent whining (I can't describe it any other way) and moralizing, of the most weaksauce variety. Ugh.

Still worth reading, if you're patient, or if you can skim heavily through his "modern society sucks, the Romans were awesome!" diatribes.
Janet Eshenroder
I really tried to finish this e-book (I might not have picked it if I had realized it was so long and would be so hard to stomach). I hate to give an opinion on any book until I've finished and given it every possible chance of redeeming itself. I struggled through more than a third of the 500+ pages before calling it quits. It is just not worth wasting the time.
The author has such a pompous view of himself that the first quarter of the book left me positively nauseated. I tried to put personal...more
David
I had previously read Nassim Taleb's The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable; I enjoyed it, and this book is definitely better. Taleb has a very non-traditional style of writing--often conversational, historical, philosophical, and scientific--all at the same time.

Taleb's basic thesis is that people and institutions are either fragile, robust, or antifragile. A fragile person is one who thinks he can predict the future--and when things go very sour, he is sorely hurt, usually in a f...more
สฤณี อาชวานันทกุล
เล่มสุดท้ายใน "ไตรภาค" ที่เริ่มต้นด้วย Fooled by Randomness ต่อด้วย Black Swan - เล่มนี้คนเขียนคือนายตาเลบ อดีตเทรดเดอร์ อ้างว่าเป็น "ที่สุดของที่สุด" ในความคิดของเขาเกี่ยวกับความไม่แน่นอน ถ้าใครไม่เคยอ่านควรหยิบเล่มนี้ขึ้นมาอ่านก่อน

อ่านสนุกและน่าสนใจกว่า Black Swan (ซึ่งเต็มไปด้วยคำบ่นอาลัย ชื่นชมนักปรัชญาโบราณ ฯลฯ มากเกินไป) เพราะเน้น "ตัวอย่าง" จากโลกจริงมาสาธิตไอเดียหลักของตาเลบว่า โลกของเราทุกวันนี้เป็นโลกที่เต็มไปด้วยความไม่แน่นอน โดยเฉพาะไม่แน่นอนแบบ long tail (โอกาสเกิดหายนะน้อย แต่เมื่อ...more
Phil
The Black Swan is one of the three books that have influenced me the most so my expectations for this book could not be higher. This exceeded my expectations. I half-expected to see Kanye West listed among his acknowledgements because this book has swagger. Taleb calls out those he disapproves by name (Tom Friedman, Alan Greenspan, and Joseph Stiglitz receive direct criticism), and takes full credit for what he gets right. In The Black Swan, Taleb makes an offhand reference to how an aside in an...more
Kevin
Where to begin? So, yes, Taleb is very smart, and Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan were great books, which is why I looked forward to this one. Overall, I think I agree with or at least find interesting his theory about how the value of antifragility and/or convexity and/or anything else he wants to call it. But this book is a bit much. Taleb's arrogance seems to have reached a new high. He reminds me of Jonathan Franzen who seems to have decided that he has achieved the perfect balance i...more
Melanie
I do not feel that I benefited from the disorder of this book.

Technically I didn't read all of this, enough to be partly intrigued and partly pissed for wasting my time. It's maddening, the theories are interesting and approaching on common sense, but it's the execution, explanation & discussion that fails. Drunken babble in need of a sober translator? As annoying as I found this I can't help but feel that there is something really interesting underneath the chaos. That just makes it more ag...more
John Spillane
I'm an overly biased kool-aid jug emptying fan of Taleb. The first half was five stars and the second fourish as he goes into more detail about his views. Part of my euphoria may have come from him being pro Ron Paul (also Ralph Nader), paleo (well paleo/vegan/fasting), salt, and a bunch other things I already liked. Is there any practical application for you or me in here; I think so, if only that I started doing my pull-ups with a backpack with 8.5L of water in it, Taleb says lift heavy weight...more
Jacques de Villiers
Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder is a great follow on from Taleb's The Black Swan. The Impact of the Highly Improbable.

I've learned a lot from Antifragile, but will only cover one or two aspects. I know if I read Antifragile again, (and I will), I will get even more (disturbing) insights that will disrupt my status quo.

I love the barbell approach in Antifragile. On the left side you should get your 'house in order' so that you have a safety net (this is the safe zone) and this then a...more
Duffy Pratt
I started this book after Christmas with a great deal of excitement, put it down for reasons I can't remember, and then read the whole thing over the last three days. So while it looks like it took me months to get through this, it actually only took a few days. Taleb several times makes a similar point about averages. For example, suppose you were told by a nursing home that your grandma would be kept nicely in a room where the average temperature was a pleasant 70 degrees. What they don't tell...more
Brittany Bond
This book kept me up at night. It forces you to think about the world and its influence on you in a whole new and honest way. I bought a hard copy for my brother, listened to the audioboook and then bought a kindle version so I can easily search for terms when I want to reference something.

Taleb is harsh to the point of abrasive, especially toward theories and people he sees fragilizing others. (He's actually harsh to theories altogether and makes a convincing argument for Empiricism's superiori...more
greg
Challenging, annoying, brilliant, simplistic. No wonder most reviews are 1 star or 5 stars. I'll give it 3, averaging out my enthusiasm and irritation.

Antifragile is a sequel and elaboration of his timely Black Swan, more than just a thesis fleshed out -- full of references to his classical self-education, and charmingly and appallingly personal in his personal dogmatism of anti-dogmatism. Never shying from an insult when he feels it deserved (and he usually does), he has equal scorn for the Har...more
Paul Mullen
It's a very interesting idea: What robust is not anti-fragile, it's just limited fragility. Anti-fragile refers to things that like abrupt changes. Think of a teacup that would stay together more consistently if it were occasionally dropped on a concrete floor.

I like Taleb's irreverent writing style, but I think at times his shock value exceeds his delivered value. His rant against marketing and big business lacks the same rigor that he applies to other areas of statistical analysis, for instan...more
Derek Neighbors
Fantastic book. Challenges everything you think you know about how things work. Economics and statistics turned on their heads and seen through a new light. Nassim has done a fantastic job of asking the right questions and pushing assumptions taken for granted.
Jurgen Appelo
Well researched important concepts presented with flair, if you can stomach the prose, and the tantrums.
Nilesh
Antifragile is a closed and extreme economic theory - something the author despises with venom in everything else.

There are many positives strewn across the book. The author's over-aggressive style notwithstanding, what kills the book is his inability to see the massive limitations of his own philosophies - something he vehemently criticises in others.

No theory or a partial model can explain the whole; this is understood by almost all thinking giants in physical sciences too let alone in social...more
Ian Robertson
Nassim Taleb has written a very worthy companion to his previous two popular books – Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan Taleb tells us that the three books “are non-overlapping chapters from [a] central idea, a main corpus focused on uncertainty, randomness, probability, disorder, and what to do in a world we don’t understand.” One need not have read the other two to enjoy this book, but those who haven’t will likely find themselves back in the bookstore to catch up once they’ve finished An...more
K
A lot of work and brilliant thinking clearly went into this book, and I regret having to assign it a lukewarm 3-star rating. But it was simply too easy for me to put down and not particularly tempting to pick up, wisdom nuggets notwithstanding. I'm sure the problem is me, not the book, but I'm the one rating it so there you go.

This book, which read like a longwinded intellectual blog with years of wide-ranging posts, discussed the concept that many things in life (parenting, economics, and more)...more
Matt
It took me five months to read, mostly because I didn't want it to end. Once you grasp the elegance of Taleb's thesis -- that everything gains or loses from volatility -- the rest is just a semi-autobiographical collection of aphorisms meditating on the nature of the world and our place in it. I found myself reading it in small chunks, just to remind myself of the at once profound and hilariously true-to-life wisdoms within.

Taleb's concept of anti-fragility (or convexity) is simple, yet not eas...more
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Taleb has devoted his life to problems of uncertainty, probability, and knowledge. He spent two decades as a trader before becoming a philosophical essayist and academic researcher in probability theory. Although he now spends most of his time either working in intense seclusion in his study, or as a flâneur meditating in cafés across the planet, he is currently Distinguished Professor of Risk Eng...more
More about Nassim Nicholas Taleb...
The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms Dynamic Hedging Force Et Fragilitéréflexions Philosophiques Et Empiriques

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“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.” 32 likes
“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” 31 likes
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