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The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

(Incerto #2)

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3.91  ·  Rating details ·  66,976 ratings  ·  3,952 reviews
A black swan is a highly improbable event with three principal characteristics: It is unpredictable; it carries a massive impact; and, after the fact, we concoct an explanation that makes it appear less random, and more predictable, than it was.

The astonishing success of Google was a black swan; so was 9/11. For Nassim Nicholas Taleb, black swans underlie almost everythin
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Hardcover, 366 pages
Published May 15th 2007 by Random House (first published 2007)
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J. Skip around! Talib even encourages you to skip certain chapters if you don't want to be bogged down in the details or the math.
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Lucas Carlson Because of the magnitude of disaster possible when people are wrong and unprepared for being wrong. He hates the bell curve for massively…moreBecause of the magnitude of disaster possible when people are wrong and unprepared for being wrong. He hates the bell curve for massively misrepresenting real risk potentials.(less)

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Nick
Jul 18, 2008 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
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Aaron
Apr 19, 2008 rated it liked it
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
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rmn
Jun 21, 2008 rated it liked it
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
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Mark
Oct 27, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Jan Rice
Jun 14, 2015 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
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Ted
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
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Greg
Dec 21, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
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Will
Jul 17, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
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Daniel
Aug 23, 2008 rated it it was ok
I stopped reading this because the author is so pompous and annoying.
Ben
Mar 08, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
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Bonnie
Feb 21, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
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
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Gendou
Jan 25, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: humor, fiction
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
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Rob
Mar 18, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
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ઈiavasĦ
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
پرفسور نسیم طالب علاوه بر فعالیت های پژوهشی و علمی در زمینه کسب و کار هم فعال بوده اما او را بیشتر به خاطر کارهایش در حوزه ی احتمالات و عدم قطعیت میشناسند. مفهوم قوی سیاه این است که مردم را مجبور میسازد درباره ی ناشناخته ها و قدرت آنها تامل کنند. تامل به معنای هالو نبودن نه شک گرایی افراطی و انفعال.
قوی سیاه سه ویژگی دارد غیر منتظره است.پیامدش سنگین است. پس از انکه اتفاق افتاد فکر میکنیم قابل پیش بینی بود (ولی قابل پیش بینی نیست).
قوهای سیاه همه ی رویدادهای جهانمان را, از اندیشه ها و ادیان گرفته
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Hadrian
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.
Marysya Rudska
Jan 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
У "Чорному лебеді" я знайшла для себе багато цікавих думок та ідей для роздумів. Особливо цікавими були розтлумачення, як наша свідомість нас обманює, чому нам важко передбачати неймовірне і давати собі об'єктивний звіт в цьому. Точні прогнози на майбутнє не мають особливої цінності і важливо перестрахуватися від суттєвих негативних подій.
Загалом, якщо говорити про інформацію, яка була в книзі, то вона варта прочитання і обдумування.

Сам стиль донесення інформації залишає бажати ліпшого. По-перш
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Carol.
Feb 08, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Not as overbearingly arrogant as others claim; in fact, often very self depreciating.

More seriously, his writing style is terribly confusing, made worse by my own unfamiliarity with the subject and his insistence on personal jargon standing in for concepts. Very anectdotal as well as making use of "thought experiments" to illustrate concepts that could have done with more explanation and less story. Yes, I get his point that stories help us learn, but I would argue that stories work best as anal
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Todd
Dec 09, 2007 rated it did not like it
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
Akash Nair
Black Swan is easily one of the most challenging books I have read. Reading it felt like being part of a revolution. Difficult to comprehend during the first reading, it attacks the application of the Gaussian bell curve in Modern Portfolio Management Theory viciously and having read it a lot recently, it makes me feel like a fool. The book is a treasure trove if you are a quizzer. Contains a hell lot of names(philosophers, economists, mathematicians..). Makes you think hard and gives you a lot ...more
Misha
May 18, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
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ُEmanMarhoon
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
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
Tamila
Jul 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
نويسنده از محبوبترين اقتصاد دانهاى من ست. ديدش به اقتصاد و شيوه زندگى اش بسيار جذابه. اينكتاب مشهورترين كتاب نويسنده ست
Neil
Mar 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
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فاتن
Jan 28, 2016 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
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Sadra Aliabadi
Mar 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 96
کتاب فوق العاده بود.
بررسی نسبتا مفصلی رو در وبلاگم درموردش نوشتم:
https://sadraa.me/%d9%86%d8%b3%db%8c%...
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.
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Nadaalaali
Jan 19, 2015 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
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nanto
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
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David
Nov 29, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
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4,768 followers
Nassim Nicholas Taleb spent 21 years as a risk taker (quantitative trader) before becoming a flaneur and researcher in philosophical, mathematical and (mostly) practical problems with probability.

Taleb is the author of a multivolume essay, the Incerto (The Black Swan, Fooled by Randomness, Antifragile, and Skin in the Game) an investigation of opacity, luck, uncertainty, probability, human error
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Other books in the series

Incerto (5 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
  • Skin in the Game: The Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life
“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.” 291 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.” 187 likes
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