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

The inability to predict outliers implies the inability to predict the course of history

The overlap between newspapers was so large that you would get less and less information the more you read. Yet everyone was so eager to become familiar with every fact that they read every freshly printed document and listened to every radio station as if the great answer was going to be revealed to them in the next bulletin. People

The same past data can confirm a theory and its exact opposite! If you survive until tomorrow, it could mean that either a) you are more likely to be immortal or b) that you are closer to death.

The very idea of exercise is to gain from anti-fragility to workout stressors?as we saw, all kinds of exercise are just exploitations of convexity effects.

There is a simple test to define path dependence of beliefs (economists have a manifestation of it called the endowment effect). Say you own a painting you bought for $20,000, and owing to rosy conditions in the art market, it is now worth $40,000. If you owned no painting, would you still acquire it at the current price? If you would not, then you are said to be married to your position. There is no rational reason to keep a painting you would not buy at its current market rate?only an emotional investment. Many people get married to their ideas all the way to the grave. Beliefs are said to be path dependent if the sequence of ideas is such that the first one dominates.

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

This makes living in big cities invaluable because you increase the odds of serendipitous encounters ? you gain exposure to the envelope of serendipity.

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

Owing to... misunderstanding of the causal chains between policy and actions, we can easily trigger Black Swans thanks to aggressive ignorance?like a child playing with a chemistry kit.

Political life loves some volatility.

randomness in the end is just unknowledge. The world is opaque and appearances fool us

Remember this maxim: I am not saying that the technologies do not age, but only that the technologies that tended to age are already dead.

Since procrastination is a message from our natural willpower via low motivation, the cure is changing the environment, or one?s profession, by selecting one in which one does not have to fight one?s impulses. Few can grasp the logical consequence that, instead, one should lead a life in which procrastination is good, as a naturalistic-risk-based form of decision making.

Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty.

Suckers try to win arguments, non-suckers try to win.

The author cites researcher David Howard's idea of post-traumatic growth. Howard contends that some individuals faced with a traumatic event actually develop new strength.

The central problem is that birds rarely write more than ornithologists.

The fastest way to become rich is to socialize with the poor; the fastest way to become poor is to socialize with the rich.

The Internet allows the small guy a global marketplace. But technology is harmful in the sense that we get too much information from it. Because of the web we get 10 times the amount of noise we ever got, which makes harmful fallacies far more likely.

The payoff of a human venture is, in general, inversely proportional to what it is expected to be.

The scientist?s behavior while facing the refutation of his ideas has been studied in depth as part of the so-called attribution bias. You attribute your successes to skills, but your failures to randomness. This explains why these scientists attributed their failures to the ten sigma rare event, indicative of the thought that they were right but that luck played against them. Why? It is a human heuristic that makes us actually believe so in order not to kill our self-esteem and keep us going against adversity.

The very same desire for order, interestingly, applies to scientific pursuits-it is just that, unlike art, the (stated) purpose of science is to get to the truth, not to give you a feeling of organization or make you feel better. We tend to use knowledge as therapy.

There is a Yiddish saying: If I am going to be forced to eat pork, it better be of the best kind. If I am going to be fooled by randomness, it better be of the beautiful (and harmless) kind.

They will envy you for your success, for your wealth, for your intelligence, for your looks, for your status?but rarely for your wisdom.

This perhaps is true self-confidence: the ability to look at the world without the need to find signs that stroke one's ego.

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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"