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

A central argument is never a summary. It is more like a generator.

A prophet is not someone who first had an idea. He is the one to first believe in it and take it to its conclusion.

A competitive athlete is painful to look at; trying hard to become an animal rather than a man, he will never be as fast as a cheetah or as strong as an ox.

A prophet is not someone with special visions, just someone blind to most of what others see.

A complex system, contrary to what people believe, does not require complicated systems and regulations and intricate policies. The simpler, the better. Complications lead to multiplicative chains of unanticipated effects. Because of opacity, an intervention leads to unforeseen consequences, followed by apologies about the unforeseen aspect of the consequences, then to another intervention to correct the secondary effects, leading to an explosive series of branching unforeseen responses, each one worse than the preceding one. 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.

A saying from Steve Jobs: People think focus means saying yes to the thing you?ve got to focus on. But that?s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I?m actually as proud of the things we haven?t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.

A country's assets reside in the tinkerers, the hobbyists, and the risk-takers.

A simple solution, but quite drastic: anyone who goes into public service should not be allowed to subsequently earn more from any commercial activity than the income of the highest paid civil servant. It is like a voluntary cap (it would prevent people from using public office as a credential-building temporary accommodation, then going to Wall Street to earn several million dollars). This would get priestly people into office.

A good book gets better at the second reading. A great book at the third. Any book not worth rereading isn't worth reading.

A Stoic is a Buddhist with attitude, one who says f*** you to fate.

A good maxim allows you to have the last word without even starting a conversation.

A Stoic is someone who transforms fear into prudence, pain into transformation, mistakes into initiation, and desire into undertaking.

A good rule of thumb is as follows: If the numbers come from somebody wearing a tie (Wall Street economist or analyst, industry public relations department, captive think tank academic and so on), you ought to be very skeptical. By design messages from these people are intended to move markets, move merchandise and/or move public policy and are not a comment on the state of the physical universe.

A system, artificially stabilized, and of course you have hidden risks under the surface, and you don't know where the risks are.

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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"