Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Nassim Nicholas

Lebanese-American Essayist, Scholar, Statistician, Former Trader and Risk Analyst, Author of "The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable"

Author Quotes

Two weekends in Philadelphia are not twice as pleasant as a single one?I?ve tried.

We are robust when errors in the representation of the unknown and understanding of random effects do not lead to adverse outcomes ?fragile otherwise.

We glorify those who left their names in history books at the expense of those contributors about whom our books are silent. We humans are not just a superficial race - we are a very unfair one.

We said that mere judgment would probably suffice in a primitive society. It is easy for a society to live without mathematics?

What he likes most about proprietary trading is that it requires considerably less time than other high-paying professions; in other words it is perfectly compatible with his non-middle-class work ethic. Trading forces someone to think hard; those who merely work hard generally lose their focus and intellectual energy. In addition, they end up drowning in randomness; work ethics, Nero believes, draw people to focus on noise rather than the signal

When conflicted between two choices, take neither.

While the meetings included traders, that is, people who are judged on their numerical performance, it was mostly a forum for salespeople (people capable of charming customers), and the category of entertainers called Wall Street economists or strategists, who make pronouncements on the fate of the markets, but do not engage in any form of risk taking, thus having their success dependent on rhetoric rather than actually testable facts.

Yet simplicity has been difficult to implement in modern life because it is against the spirit of a certain brand of people who seek sophistication so they can justify their profession. Less is more and usually more effective.

You may never know what type of person someone is unless they are given opportunities to violate moral or ethical codes.

To bankrupt a fool, give him information.

Umberto Eco is the owner of a large personal library of almost 30,000 books that he has not read. [To him] read books are far less valuable than unread ones.

We are social animals; hell is other people.

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. You may feel a sting, but it will not be as bad as you expect. This kind of mis-prediction may have a purpose: to motivate us to perform important acts (like buying new cars or getting rich) and to prevent us from taking certain unnecessary risks. And it is part of a more general problem: we humans are supposed to fool ourselves a little bit here and there. According to Trivers?s theory of self-deception, this is supposed to orient us favorably toward the future. But self-deception is not a desirable feature outside of its natural domain. It prevents us from taking some unnecessary risks?but we saw in Chapter 6 how it does not as readily cover a spate of modern risks that we do not fear because they are not vivid, such as investment risks, environmental dangers, or long-term security.

We scorn the abstract; we scorn it with passion.

What I learned on my own I still remember

When I trade, I don't have an agency problem; I have my neck on the line. When a bank or banker trades, it's not his neck on the line.

While we know that history flows forward, it is difficult to realize that we envision it backward. Why is it so?

Yet they believe blindly in the stock market, and in the abilities of their pension plan manager. Why do they do so? Because they accept that this is what people should do with their savings, because experts tell them so. The doubt their own sense, but not for a second do they doubt their automatic purchases in the stock market.

You may not be able to change the world but can at least get some entertainment & make a living out of the epistemic arrogance of the human race.

To be completely cured of newspapers, spend a year reading the previous week's newspapers.

Under opacity and in the newfound complexity of the world, people can hide risks and hurt others, with the law incapable of catching them. Iatrogenics has both delayed and invisible consequences. It is hard to see causal links, to fully understand what?s going on.

We are too brainwashed by notions of causality and we think that it is smarter to say because than to accept randomness.

We have far too many ways to interpret past events for our own good.

We should ban banks from risk-taking because society is going to pay the price.

What is made to fly will not do well trapped on the ground,

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Nassim Nicholas
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Lebanese-American Essayist, Scholar, Statistician, Former Trader and Risk Analyst, Author of "The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable"