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 should probably stop trading derivatives, anything more complex than regular options... I am an options trader, and I don't understand options. How do you want a regulator to understand them?

What is non-measurable and non-predictable will remain non-measurable and non-predictable... no matter how much hate mail I get.

When things go our way we reject the lack of certainty.

Why do we keep focusing on the minutiae, not the possible significant large events, in spite of the obvious evidence of their huge influence?

You can afford to be compassionate, lax, and courteous if, once in a while, when it is least expected of you, but completely justified, you sue someone, or savage an enemy, just to show that you can walk the walk.

You need a story to displace a story. Metaphors and stories are far more potent (alas) than ideas; they are also easier to remember and more fun to read. If I have to go after what I call the narrative disciplines, my best tool is a narrative. Ideas come and go, stories stay.

The Pyrrhonian skeptics were docile citizens who followed customs and traditions whenever possible, but taught themselves to systematically doubt everything, and thus attain a level of serenity. But while conservative in their habits, they were rabid in their fight against dogma.

The tragedy of virtue is that the more obvious, boring, unoriginal, and sermonizing the proverb, the harder it is to implement.

There are secrets to our world that only practice can reveal, and no opinion or analysis will ever capture in full.

These traders lose money frequently, but in small amounts, and make money rarely, but in large amounts. I call them crisis hunters. I am happy to be one of them.

This is hard to accept in the age of the Internet. It has been very hard for me to explain that the more data you get, the less you know what?s going on, and the more iatrogenics you will cause. People are still under the illusion that science means more data.

Our emotional apparatus is designed for linear causality. For instance, you study every day and learn something in proportion to your studies. If you do not feel that you are going anywhere, your emotions will cause you to become demoralized.

People used to wear ordinary clothes weekdays, and formal attire on Sunday. Today it is the exact reverse.

Probability is not about the odds, but about the belief in the existence of an alternative outcome, cause, or motive.

Recognition can be quite a pump. Believe me, even those who genuinely claim that they do not believe in recognition, that they separate labor from the fruits of labor, actually get a serotonin kick from it. See how the silent hero is rewarded: even his own hormonal system will conspire to offer no reward.

Seneca?s version of that Stoicism is anti-fragility from fate. No downside from Lady Fortuna, plenty of upside.

Social media is a seriously anti-social, health foods are unhealthy empirically, knowledge workers are very ignorant and social sciences are in no way scientific.

Stoicism?s Emotional Robustification Success brings an asymmetry: you now have a lot more to lose than to gain. You are hence fragile.

The American people will eventually get hurt by this accumulated deficit. That's the problem. We have too much deficit. We have to find a solution.

The book is the only medium left that hasn?t been corrupted by the profane.

The economics establishment (universities, regulators, central bankers, government officials, various organisations staffed with economists) lost its legitimacy with the failure of the system. It is irresponsible and foolish to put our trust in the ability of such experts to get us out of this mess. Instead, find the smart people whose hands are clean.

The hidden benefit of anti-fragility is that you can guess worse than random and still end up outperforming.

The only condition for such brand of more sophisticated rationalism: to believe and act as if one does not have the full story?to be sophisticated you need to accept that you are not so.

The rationalist imagines an imbecile-free society; the empiricist and imbecile-proof one, or even better, a rationalist-proof one.

The traits I respect are erudition and the courage to stand up when half-men are afraid for their reputation. Any idiot can be intelligent.

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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"