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

To understand how something works, figure out how to break it.

Verba volent, words fly. Never have people who talk and don?t do been more visible, and played a larger role, than in modern times. This is the product of modernism and division of tasks. Recall that I said that America?s

We cannot truly plan, because we do not understand the future--but this is not necessarily a bad news. We could plan while bearing in mind such limitations. It just takes guts.

We know a lot more what is wrong than what is right.

We would not even need a statistician; a second-rate engineer would do.

What organized dating sites fail to understand is that the people are far more interesting in what they don't say about themselves.

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

With a Latin saying that sophistication is born out of hunger (artificia docuit fames).

You exist fully if and only if your conversation (or your scripts) cannot be easily reconstructed with clippings from other conversations

You want to favor systems that benefit from error, disorder, variability and things like that. You want to favor these systems and unfortunately, when - there's something I call the Soviet Illusion. The more the government becomes intrusive, the more things have to follow a script, and it can't handle this kind of system.

To understand the future, you do not need techno-autistic jargon, obsession with killer apps, these sort of things. You just need the following: some respect for the past, some curiosity about the historical record, a hunger for the wisdom of the elders, and a grasp of the notion of heuristics, these often unwritten rules of thumb that are so determining of survival. In other words, you will be forced to give weight to things that have been around, things that have survived.

Verbal threat is genuine impotence certificate.

We didn?t get where we are thanks to the sissy notion of resilience.

We know from chaos theory that even if you had a perfect model of the world, you'd need infinite precision in order to predict future events. With sociopolitical or economic phenomena, we don't have anything like that.

Weak act according to their needs, the stronger their obligations.

What should we control? As a rule, intervening to limit size (of companies, airports, or sources of pollution), concentration, and speed are beneficial in reducing Black Swan risks.

When you don?t have debt you don?t care about your reputation in economics circles?and somehow it is only when you don?t care about your reputation that you tend to have a good one. Just

With few exceptions, those who dress outrageously are robust or even anti-fragile in reputation; those clean-shaven types who dress in suits and ties are fragile to information about them.

You exist if and only if you are free to do things without a visible objective, with no justification and, above all, outside the dictatorship of someone else's narrative.

You will be civilized on the day you can spend a long period doing nothing, learning nothing, and improving nothing, without feeling the slightest amount of guilt.

Too much success is the enemy, too much failure is demoralizing.

Veteran trader Marty O?Connell calls this the firehouse effect. He had observed that firemen with much downtime who talk to each other for too long come to agree on many things that an outside, impartial observer would find ludicrous (they develop political ideas that are very similar). Psychologists give it a fancier name, but my friend Marty has no training in behavioral sciences.

We discussed this dire problem with education and illusions of academic contribution, with Ivy League universities becoming in the eyes of the new Asian and U.S. upper class a status luxury good. Harvard is like a Vuitton bag or a Cartier watch. It is a huge drag on the middle-class parents who have been plowing an increased share of their savings into these institutions, transferring their money to administrators, real estate developers, professors, and other agents. In the United States, we have a buildup of student loans that automatically transfer to these rent extractors. In a way it is no different from racketeering: one needs a decent university name to get ahead in life; but we know that collectively society doesn?t appear to advance with organized education.

We laugh at others and we don't realize that someone will be just as justified in laughing at us on some not too remote day.

Weak men act to satisfy their needs, stronger men their duties.

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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"