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The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (Incerto #2)

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  58,277 Ratings  ·  3,321 Reviews
'The Black Swan' is a concept that will change the way you look at the world. Black Swans underlie almost everything, from the rise of religions, to events in our own personal lives. Nassim Taleb explains everything we know about what we don't know, and shows us how to face the world.
Hardcover, 366 pages
Published May 3rd 2007 by Allen Lane (first published 2007)
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Iván Fanego I just finished it yesterday and my only regret is to not have read years ago. It is wonderful, it will change the way you see the world.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Dec 30, 2007 Nina rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It took a lot of willpower to not put this book down. This guy could have written a very interesting 5-page essay on his main idea, which is that people overestimate their ability to predict the future and that unexpected, extraordinary events - of whose occurrence we do not even know the probability, since the event is usually outside the realm of what we think is possible - are in the end what really matter. Instead, he took this solid (and unoriginal, I might add) idea, gave it a clever name ...more
Jul 18, 2008 Nick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book. And, to take a page from Taleb, anyone who doesn't think so is wrong.

No, no, there are a number of problems with the book. A bit bloated, a bit repetitive. And NNT does make the misstep every once and a while. To take a very small instance, Taleb bases a short section of the book upon the idea that to be "hardened by the Gulag" means to become "harder" or "stronger" rather than its true meaning of someone who has become inured to certain difficulties, not necessarily strong
I can summarize this book in two words: Shit happens.

Actually, I should be more fair since the author spent 300 pages laying out his beliefs and arguing his conclusions. The real summary of this book should be: Shit happens more often than you think.

The author, Taleb, rails against economics, most philosophers, and the way we incorporate news to allow us to make sense of events and everyday happenings. He wants us to unlearn the way we think and learn, while destroying the modern beliefs in stat
Apr 19, 2008 Aaron rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Zach
Recommended to Aaron by: Zach
This is a book that raises a number of very important questions, but chief among them is definitely the question of how the interplay between a good idea and an insufferable author combine to effect the reading experience?

This author is an a-hole. Full stop. He's dismissive, chronically insecure, unstructured and hostile towards his detractors. He engages in what may be the lowest form of rhetoric by pre-emptively attacking any critics (even before they've had the chance to come forward) as too
Jan Rice
Jun 14, 2015 Jan Rice rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first time through, I listened to this book with my husband, usually while I was cooking. Although I tried to stop and mark important passages, I ended up thinking the book was not very systematic. The second time through, chapter by chapter, the method in his madness is more apparent.

I continued to think Taleb is more a popularizer than an innovator. But even if so, that's not so shabby. He's trying to revolutionize the way we think, and the more we rehearse that, the better.

Nassim Nichol
Taleb is a pretty good writer, but I thought this was a very uneven book. As I read it I was constantly alternating between "Wow, that's a really great insight, a great way of presenting it" and "Gee, who doesn't realize that?", or even "That just seems flat-out wrong".

It's a book that should have been read by the quantitative analysts ("quants") working for the hedge funds and investment banks in early 2008; but it probably wouldn't have made much difference in the financial melt-down that foll
Dec 21, 2007 Greg rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book has diminishing returns on the time spent reading it. Taleb's jeremiad is directed against - well - everyone who is not as enlightened as he is. I trudged through this book because - well - everyone is reading it and enlightened people should know how to comment on it. There, I did it. Now I can look down on all those people out there who aren't enlightened like Taleb. And now, me.

Taleb is actually on to something important if you can tolerate his self-importance enough to filter his v
Oct 27, 2012 Mark rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
First, a disclaimer. I am, professionally, a statistician. I do not have a Ph.D. in my field because I feel that statisticians with Ph.D.'s are devoid of practicality and usefulness to the real world. I work at a factory where I assist engineers in better understanding how processes work and making things better. I generally feel that I make a worthwhile contribution to the world. I bought and read this book because it was critical of statisticians. I do not believe in surrounding myself with 'y ...more
Jul 17, 2008 Will rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review will be comprised of two parts: a review of the ideas presented and a review of the way in which it is written

(A) The ideas

There is no question here, Taleb is an erudite and intelligent scholar. His take on epistomology and the scientific method breathe fresh air into the subject and gloss it with some 21st century context.

It would be difficult for me to overstate the importance of the black swan problem in modern life and the degree to which we are, as societies, unaware of its impa
Aug 23, 2008 Daniel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I stopped reading this because the author is so pompous and annoying.
Feb 21, 2010 Bonnie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This felt like it was trying to be the next The Tipping Point or Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything and just failed spectacularly, on all counts. Most importantly, perhaps, was that it was dull and a chore to read. In the little footnotes suggesting a chapter was unneccessary for a nontechnical reader and could be skipped (read: you are too dumb to understand this chapter, so don't even bother), like Chapter 15, I gladly took his advice because it meant one le ...more
Mar 08, 2008 Ben rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shit
If you skipped your Systems, Statistics, or Random Variables classes in college, or if you think you know more than everyone else on Wall Street, then read this book. It will reaffirm what you already know. To the rest of you: this book will reaffirm what you thought you knew when you were 5 or 6...with an updated vocabulary.

I put this book down after the first chapter, but thought I would give it another chance, that I was being unfair. When I read the second chapter (which is a metaphor for w
Mar 18, 2009 Rob rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A lot of blogs said a lot of nice things about this book, and from this I conclude that most of those bloggers either A) strictly read the executive summary or B) only read other bloggers. This is a pretty terrible book, and while it has one or two good ideas, they are better and more rigorously expressed in books like "Sway" or "The Drunkard's Walk" than they are in this shameless exercise in self promotion.

The fact that the author displays a limited understanding of the topic, and tends to lum
Ebtihal Abuali
الفكرة المحورية لهذا الكتاب هي انك عاجز عن التكهن، وأيا تكن النظريات الاحصائية وحساب الاحتمالات الذي تعتمده، فما لم يكن يضع العشوائية والتشككية في الحسبان فهو لا يعول عليه. نحن نعيش بمفاهيم (وبرمجة) تحاول اقناعنا بقدرتنا على التعامل مع عالم بقوانين ثابتة، عندما لا تكون هذه هي الحقيقة. لأن البجعات السوداء، أو الحدث الاقل توقعا بل الذي يقع خارج نطاق كل احتمالاتنا يمكن ان يحدث (موجبا كان او سالبا).

هل تحتاج هذه الفكرة الى 600 صفحة لشرحها. لا أعتقد. شعرت ان الكاتب بالغ في الاسترسال في السرد وهو يشير
كل حدث في حياتنا له سبب ما .. نحاول دائما ان نتكهن بالمستقبل بحكم طبيعتنا البشرية .. لا نريد ان نفاجأ بحدث يقلب حياتنا رأسا على عقب لكن هل نفلح في ذلك .. في كتابه البجعة السوداء حاول نسيم طالب في حوالي 500 صفحه ايضاح ماهيه هذا الحدث وكيف ان تكهناتنا لن تمنع وقوعه ذلك اننا لا نلعب وفق قواعد اللعبه كما ينبغي حيث اننا جبلنا على التفكير النمطي فنحن وان كنا شكاكين الا ان شكنا ليس بالقدر الكافي الذي يمنع عنا وقوع مثل هذه الاحداث .. اقيم الكتاب بثلاث نجمات فهو رغم كونه ممتع الا ان تشعب الاحداث وصعوبتها ...more
Jan 25, 2016 Gendou rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, humor
This book profoundly nasty and intellectually demented. Taleb a classic science denier; oscillating between anti-science and pseudo-intellectual arguments. When some scientist says something he likes, he misrepresents it to fit his narrative. When the scientific consensus is against him, he cries grand conspiracy theory or slanders the methods of science. His argumentation in this book is like a case study in logical fallacies and crank red flags.

Special pleading.

Ignoring disconfirming evidence
May 18, 2007 Misha rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tried-to-read
This book is a weird mix of novel ideas, bragging, and pseudo-science.

Taleb makes a strong case for his theory of black swans. It's an interesting and valuable theory but it's also one that could be communicated in a short conversation and does not need a whole book to contain it.

Taleb fills the rest of the pages by bragging about his own success and ridiculing established philosophers, economists, and anyone else he can think of. I'm not in any position to judge his opinions of these people, b
Mar 26, 2009 Neil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mba, philosophy, logic
Okay, let's see if I got it straight...

An anti-academic academic weaves a non-narrative narrative about predicting the unpredictable into the theory that rigid theories are bad.

Oh, and count on things you can't conceive of happening happening.

Something like that.

Taleb's observations on the expectations and biases we hold, especially when estimating risk or uncertainty, are pretty dead on.

His key practical point is about the need for a NON-parametric look at any situation in which low-probabilit
Adih Respati
Black Swan, huge-impact improbable events (the success of google, attack of 9/11, invention of internet), shows that social sciences fail to predict various events (behaviors inculuded) by,and so far by merely , usingGaussian "bell curve" approach. The use of mathematics in social sciences overestimates what we know (observed past events)and underestimates what we don't (probable future events): too little science papers succeeded to make (near) accurate predictions; and successful inventions ar ...more
Dec 09, 2007 Todd rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nerds
I only read the first 13 pages of this book, plus the prologue, but that was enough. In the first few pages he name-drops people like Umberto Eco and Nabokov, tells us about people who were rather unknown five years ago (but forgets to tell us that they are still rather unknown now), and compares himself to people in history who are/were actually influential. For a man who claims he is not writing an autobiography, he really works hard to impress the reader. He adds little bits of information in ...more
Sometimes you can't predict when things happen. Sometimes past evidence does not necessarily predict future trends. I paraphrase David Mamet: Let me buy Nassim Taleb a pack of gum, he'll show you how to chew it.
nyari buku hegel malah dapat buku ini yang terjemahannya. ada beberapa kalimatnya yang menggelitik maka tertarik deh.:D

*sampe bab 1*
Ide buku ini menarik.

Black Swan adalah sebuah metafora yang pertama saya pahami dari kajian filsafat ilmu dulu sewaktu kuliah. Karl Raimund Poper menggunakan metafora itu untuk menjelaskan konsepsinya tentang falsifikasi. Di dunia ini, manusia cenderung percaya untuk mengatakan angsa putih adalah kebenaran. Keguncangan pada kebenaran itu akan terjadi jika ada angsa
Jan 19, 2015 Nadaalaali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
فكرة الكتاب تتمحور حول أن اعتقادنا بأن باستطاعتنا بشكل موثوق التكهن بالأحداث مبالغ فيه بشدة، وأن هذه المبالغة مدعومة من علماء رياضيات واحصاء ومن يساندهم مما يجعل الركون الى هذه الثقة أشد خطرا.

 ونحن _عامة الناس _ نعتقد ان وضع معظم البيانات التي تحصلنا عليها تاريخيا ورسمها في منحنى بياني جرسي يتيح لنا التكهن بالمستقبل، في حين أن هذا المنحنى يسقط تماما بالتنبؤ بحدث غير متوقع لأن نسبة وقوعه تكون رقما صغير ويساره العديد من الأصفار.

يحاول نسيم أن يلفت انتباهنا أن الأحداث غير المتوقعة لا ينبغي أن نسقطه
Nov 29, 2007 David rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2007
Nassim Taleb's earlier book "Fooled by Randomness" was enormously successful - deservedly so, in my opinion. Unfortunately, this second book is a complete disappointment. Despite its length, it adds very little of interest to the material in the first book. Much of it is a rambling and indulgent rehash of ideas already developed adequately in the first book. If you are looking for fresh insight, spare your money.

Taleb is a very smart guy. In the first book, he wrote fluidly, clearly, without con
Sadra Aliabadi
Mar 27, 2017 Sadra Aliabadi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 96
کتاب فوق العاده بود.
بررسی نسبتا مفصلی رو در وبلاگم درموردش نوشتم:
همین قدر بگم که برای بار دوم خواهم خوندش. فقط در مورد ترجمه بگم که با توجه به این که متن انگلیسی ثقیله کار قابل قبولی انجام شده اما متاسفانه بعضی جاها مترجم برای واژه هایی که معادلهای خوب و معروف دارن دست به واژه سازی زده یا از واژه هایی استفاده کرده که برای مخاطب ممکنه آشنا نباشند. به هر حال. نسخهی انگلسیش رو هم باید خوند.
Jan 28, 2016 فاتن rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
هذا الكتاب من نوعية الكتب التي تقرأ مطلعها ثم تتوقف مليا، للتفكير ربما أو للملل، ثم تعود من البداية لتعاود قراءة ماسبق لظنك أنه فاتك فهما ما
ثم تسترسل في القراءة على مضض حينا وبشوق عارم أحايين أُخر ... تتعثر قليلا لكنك تكمل على أية حال، حتى تأتي على الكتاب كله، ثم تحدثك نفسك بأنه كتاب مدهش وأنه مفيد، ولكن إذا ما سُئلت عن الأفكار المستفادة ، ستتردد كثيرا حتى تقول فكرة واحدة، فالكتاب متخم بالأفكار المتناثرة من كل صوب ، وإذا سُئلت عن الفكرة الرئيسية ستشعر بالتفاهة وأنت تقول أن مدار الكتاب كله هو تقر
May 06, 2017 Londi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to admit that this book was a guilty pleasure, I really enjoyed it and some of the arguments presented on it are so interesting, but in general this is an uneven book, with a lot of generalizations that come out of nowhere and not so much intellectual background in elaborating its main thesis.
Mahshid Parchami
May 21, 2017 Mahshid Parchami rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: paper, re-read
نوشتن از این کتاب سخته؛ باید چند بار خونده شه؛ با توجه به اینکه سر رشته ای از امور مالی ندارم مهمترین مساله برای من نگاه طالب به تفکر و فلسفه بود ؛ نقد نظریه پردازی و اهمیت تجربه و گرفتن دیتای واقعی. اینکه مرزبندی بین علوم زاییده ذهن ماست و خیلی چیزها که باید روشون فکر کنم
Felipe Oquendo
Feb 07, 2017 Felipe Oquendo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lidos-em-2017
Por falta de tempo para escrever algo mais extenso, digo apenas que é um livro muito importante para entender a (in)capacidade de previsão dos homens, incapacidade essa que não muda significativamente com os acréscimos tecnológicos, seja pela arrogância cognitiva, seja pelos limites intransponíveis que se impõem à atividade.

O autor tem um estilo anti-acadêmico e sarcástico que me agrada muito. É daquele tipo de livro que diz "O Rei está Nu!". Quanto à forma, segue uma mistura de "ensaios reunido
Mi Camino Blanco
Un cisne negro es según el autor un suceso altamente improbable, inesperado y de alto impacto y que puede ser predecido sólo a posteriori, al intentar encajar el suceso en un modelo perfecto que quiere dejar fuera al mero azar.

Siempre me he considerado escéptica pero reconozco que el empirismo escéptico tan radical de este autor me ha puesto en algunos momentos un poco nerviosa. Que todo dependa del azar y no podamos explicar nada, ni extraer conclusiones del pasado ni intentar predecir el futur
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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...

Other Books in the Series

Incerto (4 books)
  • Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets
  • The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms
  • Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

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“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.” 234 likes
“It has been more profitable for us to bind together in the wrong direction than to be alone in the right one. Those who have followed the assertive idiot rather than the introspective wise person have passed us some of their genes. This is apparent from a social pathology: psychopaths rally followers.” 158 likes
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