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

People are much less interested in what you are trying to show them than what you are trying to hide.

Prediction, not narration, is the real test of our understanding of the world.

Rationalism crashes in the tails.

Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (one of the doer-Stoic authors), fire feeds on obstacles.

So I end this section with a thought. It is quite perplexing that those from whom we have benefited the most aren?t those who have tried to help us (say with advice) but rather those who have actively tried?but eventually failed?to harm us.

Someone with a low degree of epistemic arrogance is not too visible, like a shy person at a cocktail party. We are not predisposed to respect humble people, those who try to suspend judgement. Now contemplate epistemic humility. Think of someone heavily introspective, tortured by the awareness of his own ignorance. He lacks the courage of the idiot, yet has the rare guts to say I don't know. He does not mind looking like a fool or, worse, an ignoramus. He hesitates, he will not commit, and he agonizes over the consequences of being wrong. He introspects, introspects, and introspects until he reaches physical and nervous exhaustion.

talking about radiation, few wonder why, after hundreds of millions of years of having our skins exposed to sun rays, we suddenly need so much protection from them?is it that our exposure is more harmful than before because of changes in the atmosphere, or populations living in an environment mismatching the pigmentation of their skin?or rather, that makers of sun protection products need to make some profits?

The best way to learn a language may be an episode of jail in a foreign country.

The classification is an essential need for humans, but it becomes a medical condition when it is being considered to the classified category look at his two conclusive, which prevents people from thinking about the blurry set the border between the people and communities, except for a reconsideration of the division of people into categories

The formation of our beliefs is fraught with superstitions?even today (I might say, especially today). Just as one day some primitive tribesman scratched his nose, saw rain falling, and developed an elaborate method of scratching his nose to bring on the much-needed rain, we link economic prosperity to some rate cut by the Federal Reserve Board, or the success of a company with the appointment of the new president at the helm.

The minute I was bored with a book or a subject I moved to another one, instead of giving up on reading altogether - when you are limited to the school material and you get bored, you have a tendency to give up and do nothing or play hooky out of discouragement.

The problem lies in the structure of our minds: we don?t learn rules, just facts, and only facts.

The story of the exquisite cadavers is as follows. In the aftermath of the First World War, a collection of surrealist poets?which included Andr‚ Breton, their pope, Paul Eluard, and others?got together in caf‚s and tried the following exercise (modern literary critics attribute the exercise to the depressed mood after the war and the need to escape reality). On a folded piece of paper, in turn, each one of them would write a predetermined part of a sentence, not knowing the others? choice. The first would pick an adjective, the second a noun, the third a verb, the fourth an adjective, and the fifth a noun. The first publicized exercise of such random (and collective) arrangement produced the following poetic sentence: The exquisite cadavers shall drink the new wine. (Les cadavres exquis boiront le vin nouveau.) Impressive? It sounds even more poetic in the native French. Quite impressive poetry has been produced in such a manner, sometimes with the aid of a computer. But poetry has never been truly taken seriously outside of the beauty of its associations, whether they have been produced by the random ranting of one or more disorganized brains, or the more elaborate constructions of one conscious creator.

The world as a whole has never been richer, and it has never been more heavily in debt, living off borrowed money. The record shows that, for society, the richer we become, the harder it get to live within our means. Abundance is harder for us to handle than scarcity.

There is no intermediate state between ice and water but there is one between life and death: employment.

This absence of literary culture is actually a marker of future blindness because it is usually accompanied by a denigration of history, a byproduct of unconditional neomania. Outside of the niche and isolated genre of science fiction, literature is about the past. We do not learn physics or biology from medieval textbooks, but we still read Homer, Plato, or the very modern Shakespeare.

Those who do not think that employment is systemic slavery are either blind or employed.

Only Ponzi schemes should depend on confidence. Governments should never need to ?restore confidence.? Cascading rumours are a product of complex systems. Governments cannot stop the rumours. Simply, we need to be in a position to shrug off rumours, be robust in the face of them.

People can't predict how long they will be happy with recently acquired objects, how long their marriages will last, how their new jobs will turn out, yet it's subatomic particles that they cite as limits of prediction. They're ignoring a mammoth standing in front of them in favor of matter even a microscope would not allow them to see.

Preoccupation with efficacy is the main obstacle to a poetic, elegant, robust and heroic life.

Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means, mortgage rates, and the currently tight real-estate market alow you to put there.

Scholarship without erudition and natural curiosity can close your mind and lead to the fragmentation of disciplines.

So just as Stoicism is the domestication, not the elimination, of emotions, so is the barbell a domestication, not the elimination, of uncertainty.

Stalin could not have existed in a municipality.

Technology can degrade (and endanger) every aspect of a sucker?s life while convincing him that it is becoming more efficient. - The difference between technology and slavery is that slaves are fully aware that they are not free. - You have a real life if and only if you do not compete with anyone in any of your pursuits. - With terminal disease, nature lets you die with abbreviated suffering; medicine lets you suffer with prolonged dying. -

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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"