The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

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 everything about our world, from the rise of religions to events in our own personal lives.

Why do we not acknowledge the phenomenon of black swans until after they occur? Part of the answer, according to Taleb, is that humans are hardwired to learn specifics when they should be focused on generalities.

We concentrate on things we already know and time and time again fail to take into consideration what we don’t know. We are, therefore, unable to truly estimate opportunities, too vulnerable to the impulse to simplify, narrate, and categorize, and not open enough to rewarding those who can imagine the “impossible.”

For years, Taleb has studied how we fool ourselves into thinking we know more than we actually do. We restrict our thinking to the irrelevant and inconsequential, while large events continue to surprise us and shape our world. Now, in this revelatory book, Taleb explains everything we know about what we don’t know. He offers surprisingly simple tricks for dealing with black swans and benefiting from them.

Elegant, startling, and universal in its applications The Black Swan will change the way you look at the world. Taleb is a vastly entertaining writer, with wit, irreverence, and unusual stories to tell. He has a polymathic command of subjects ranging from cognitive science to business to probability theory.

The Black Swan is a landmark book – itself a black swan.

The book also contains a 4-page glossary; 19 pages of notes; and, a 28-page bibliography in addition to an index.

Title:The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9781400063512
Format Type:

About Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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.



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    The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable Reviews

  • Nick

    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 ...

  • Aaron

    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 t...

  • rmn

    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 ...

  • Mark

    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....

  • Jan Rice

    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...

  • Greg

    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 - ...

  • 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,...

  • Will

    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 ideasThere is no question here, Taleb is an erudite and intelligent sc...

  • Daniel

    I stopped reading this because the author is so pompous and annoying....

  • Ben

    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...