The Black Swan Quotes

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The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
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The Black Swan Quotes Showing 1-30 of 508
“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
“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
“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.”
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
“Remember that you are a Black Swan.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
“It is my great hope someday, to see science and decision makers rediscover what the ancients have always known. Namely that our highest currency is respect.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
“The problem with experts is that they do not know what they do not know”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
“Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means, mortgage rates, and the currently tight real-estate market alow you to put there.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
“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
“We tend to use knowledge as therapy.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
“Categorizing is necessary for humans, but it becomes pathological when the category is seen as definitive, preventing people from considering the fuzziness of boundaries,”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
“The inability to predict outliers implies the inability to predict the course of history”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
“Ideas come and go, stories stay.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
“I will repeat the following until I am hoarse: it is contagion that determines the fate of a theory in social science, not its validity.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
“If you survive until tomorrow, it could mean that either a) you are more likely to be immortal or b) that you are closer to death.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
“Prediction, not narration, is the real test of our understanding of the world.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
“I am most often irritated by those who attack the bishop but somehow fall for the securities analyst--those who exercise their skepticism against religion but not against economists, social scientists, and phony statisticians. Using the confirmation bias, these people will tell you that religion was horrible for mankind by counting deaths from the Inquisition and various religious wars. But they will not show you how many people were killed by nationalism, social science, and political theory under Stalin or during the Vietnam War. Even priests don't go to bishops when they feel ill: their first stop is the doctor's. But we stop by the offices of many pseudoscientists and "experts" without alternative. We no longer believe in papal infallibility; we seem to believe in the infallibility of the Nobel, though....”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
“Believe me, it is tough to deal with the social consequences of the appearance of continuous failure. We are social animals; hell is other people.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
“I don’t run for trains.” Snub your destiny. I have taught myself to resist running to keep on schedule. This may seem a very small piece of advice, but it registered. In refusing to run to catch trains, I have felt the true value of elegance and aesthetics in behavior, a sense of being in control of my time, my schedule, and my life. 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. You stand above the rat race and the pecking order, not outside of it, if you do so by choice.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
“We are quick to forget that just being alive is an extraordinary piece of good luck, a remote event, a chance occurrence of monstrous proportions.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
“If you want to get an idea of a friend's temperament, ethics, and personal elegance, you need to look at him under the tests of severe circumstances, not under the regular rosy glow of daily life.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
“I propose that if you want a simple step to a higher form of life, as distant from the animal as you can get, then you may have to denarrate, that is, shut down the television set, minimize time spent reading newspapers, ignore the blogs. Train your reasoning abilities to control your decisions; nudge System 1 (the heuristic or experiential system) out of the important ones. Train yourself to spot the difference between the sensational and the empirical. This insulation from the toxicity of the world will have an additional benefit: it will improve your well-being.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
“The strategy for the discoverers and entrepreneurs is to rely less on top-down planning and focus on maximum tinkering and recognizing opportunities when they present themselves. So I disagree with the followers of Marx and those of Adam Smith: the reason free markets work is because they allow people to be lucky, thanks to aggressive trial and error, not by giving rewards or “incentives” for skill. The strategy is, then, to tinker as much as possible and try to collect as many Black Swan opportunities as you can.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
“You need a story to displace a story.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
“You can afford to be compassionate, lax, and courteous if, once in a while, when it is least expected of you, but completely justified, you sue someone, or savage an enemy, just to show that you can walk the walk.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
“Consider a turkey that is fed every day. Every single feeding will firm up the bird’s belief that it is the general rule of life to be fed every day by friendly members of the human race “looking out for its best interests,” as a politician would say. On the afternoon of the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, something unexpected will happen to the turkey. It will incur a revision of belief.*”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
“This idea that in order to make a decision you need to focus on the consequences (which you can know) rather than the probability (which you can’t know) is the central idea of uncertainty.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
“We grossly overestimate the length of the effect of misfortune on our lives. You think that the loss of your fortune or current position will be devastating, but you are probably wrong. More likely, you will adapt to anything, as you probably did after past misfortunes.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
“The next time someone pesters you with unneeded advice, gently remind him of the fate of the monk whom Ivan the Terrible put to death for delivering uninvited (and moralizing) advice. It works as a short-term cure.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
“THE ONE THING YOU MUST DO

There is one thing in this world you must never forget to do. If you forget everything else and not this, there's nothing to worry about, but if you remember everything else and forget this, then you will have done nothing in your life.

It's as if a king has sent you to some country to do a task, and you perform a hundred other services, but not the one he sent you to do. So human being come to this world to do particular work. That work is the purpose, and each is specific to the person. If you don't do it, it's as though a priceless Indian sword were used to slice rotten meat. It's a golden bowl being used to cook turnips, when one filing from the bowl could buy a hundred suitable pots. It's like a knife of the finest tempering nailed into a wall to hang things on.

You say, "But look, I'm using the dagger. It's not lying idle." Do you hear how ludicrous that sounds? For a penny an iron nail could be bought to serve for that. You say, "But I spend my energies on lofty enterprises. I study jurisprudence and philosophy and logic and astronomy and medicine and the rest." But consider why you do those things. They are all branches of yourself.

Remember the deep root of your being, the presence of your lord. Give yourself to the one who already owns your breath and your moments. If you don't, you will be like the man who takes a precious dagger and hammers it into his kitchen wall for a peg to hold his dipper gourd. You'll be wasting valuable keenness and forgetting your dignity and purpose.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

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