rmn's Reviews > The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
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bookshelves: financial-math-non-fiction

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 statistics and at the same time eviscerating the nobel prize winners who got us to where we are today.

While the author has valid points, his writing style oscillates between boring, repetitive, and just plain bad. Plus he uses the pronouns “I” and “me” more often than any other author I have read. Perhaps he is using his gigantic ego to prove the existence of fat tails in the standard bell curve and thus exhibit directly the central thesis which is that the Gaussian curve does not hold up in our modern “extremistan” society (and trust me that that sentence is funny if you read the book).

The author does understand his limitation to some degree and even suggests skipping certain chapters, though to be honest, the chapters he recommends skipping I found to be the best in the book.

I do recommend this for the ideas. It is worth a read/skim for anyone interested in statistics, economics, managing money, or just generally intellectually curious.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
May 1, 2008 – Finished Reading
June 21, 2008 – Shelved
June 21, 2008 – Shelved as: financial-math-non-fiction

Comments Showing 1-10 of 10 (10 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Suzi (new)

Suzi well written review!


Reza Putra Unfortunately, introductory part tells that he'd prefer his stories over ideas due to lack of consistency.


message 3: by Lev (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lev Deych Fat tails in a standard bell curve is an oxymoron. A distribution is either normal, or it has fat tail. Just noting


message 4: by Lee (new) - added it

Lee Coleman nice review.


Ayoub You picked the right words for book's summary "shit happens more often than you think"


message 6: by Utkarsh (new) - added it

Utkarsh Verma love the review. I am finding it difficult to find an idea beyond shut happens


Dmitry Lovermann Great precise and short review :D


Chanii It's how I feel


message 9: by Faisal (new)

Faisal Alrefaie Couldn’t have said it better, great review


message 10: by Lucas (new) - added it

Lucas Leite You had transcribed in word my feelings better than I could do it.


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