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

We tend to use knowledge as therapy.

What Mother Nature does is rigorous until proven otherwise; what humans and science do is flawed until proven otherwise.

When you beat up someone physically, you get exercise and stress relief; when you assault him verbally on the Internet, you just harm yourself.

With @EmanuelDerman before our lectures making snide comments trying to confuse the speaker while looking serious.

You don't become completely free by just avoiding being a slave; you also need to avoid becoming a master.

You want to be yourself, idiosyncratic; the collective (school, rules, jobs, technology) wants you generic to the point of castration.

One general, Fabius Maximus was nicknamed Cunctator, the Procrastinator. He drove Hannibal, who had an obvious military superiority, crazy by avoiding and delaying engagement.

Our sophistication continuously puts us ahead of ourselves, creating things we are less and less capable of understanding.

Please, don?t drive a school bus blindfolded.

Pure generosity is when you help the ingrate. Every other form is self-serving.

Remember the psychological discussions on asymmetries in the perception of skills in the previous chapter? We see flaws in others and not in ourselves. Once again we seem to be wonderful at self-deceit machines.

Simply, humans should not be given explosive toys (like atomic bombs, financial derivatives, or tools to create life).

Some libertarians use the example of Drachten, a town in the Netherlands, in which a dream experiment was conducted. All street signs were removed. The deregulation led to an increase in safety, confirming the anti-fragility of attention at work, how it is whetted by a sense of danger and responsibility. As a result, many German and Dutch towns have reduced the number of street signs. We saw a version of the Drachten effect in Chapter 2 in the discussion of the automation of planes, which produces the exact opposite effect than what is intended by making pilots lose alertness.

Suckers think that you cure greed with money, addiction with substances, expert problems with experts, banking with bankers, economics with economists, and debt crises with debt spending

The Arabs have an expression for trenchant prose: no skill to understand it, mastery to write it.

The central point: had Stiglitz been a businessman with his own money on the line, he would have blown up, terminated. Or had he been in nature, his genes would have been made extinct?so people with such misunderstanding of probability would eventually disappear from our DNA. What I found nauseating was the government hiring one of his coauthors.

The excess energy released from overreaction to setbacks is what innovates!

The implication is that we feel emotions (limbic brain) then find an explanation (neocortex).

The opposite of manliness isn't cowardice; it's technology.

The same can be seen in the Fukushima nuclear reactor, which experienced a catastrophic failure in 2011 when a tsunami struck. It had been built to withstand the worst past historical earthquake, with the builders not imagining much worse--and not thinking that the worst past event had to be a surprise, as it had no precedent. Likewise, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, Fragilista Doctor Alan Greenspan, in his apology to Congress offered the classic It never happened before. Well, nature, unlike Fragilista Greenspan, prepares for what has not happened before, assuming worse harm is possible.

The twentieth century was the bankruptcy of the social utopia; the twenty-first will be that of the technological one.

There is a saying that bad traders divorce their spouse sooner than abandon their positions. Loyalty to ideas is not a good thing for traders, scientists - or anyone.

They think that intelligence is about noticing things are relevant (detecting patterns); in a complex world, intelligence consists in ignoring things that are irrelevant (avoiding false patterns)

This lack of translation is a mental handicap that comes with being a human; and we will only start to attain wisdom or rationality when we make an effort to overcome and break through it.

One of the methods, called sortes virgilianae (fate as decided by the epic poet Virgil), involved opening Virgil?s Aeneid at random and interpreting the line that presented itself as direction for the course of action. You should use such method for every sticky business decision. I will repeat until I get hoarse: the ancients evolved hidden and sophisticated ways and tricks to exploit randomness. For

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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"