The Black Swan: Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable Fragility"

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Random House Publishing Group, May 11, 2010 - Business & Economics - 480 pages
The most influential book of the past seventy-five years: a groundbreaking exploration of everything we know about what we don’t know, now with a new section called “On Robustness and Fragility.”

A black swan is a highly improbable event with three principal characteristics: It is unpredictable; it carries a massive impact; and, after the fact, we concoct an explanation that makes it appear less random, and more predictable, than it was. The astonishing success of Google was a black swan; so was 9/11. For Nassim Nicholas Taleb, black swans underlie almost everything about our world, from the rise of religions to events in our own personal lives.
 
Why do we not acknowledge the phenomenon of black swans until after they occur? Part of the answer, according to Taleb, is that humans are hardwired to learn specifics when they should be focused on generalities. We concentrate on things we already know and time and time again fail to take into consideration what we don’t know. We are, therefore, unable to truly estimate opportunities, too vulnerable to the impulse to simplify, narrate, and categorize, and not open enough to rewarding those who can imagine the “impossible.”
 
For years, Taleb has studied how we fool ourselves into thinking we know more than we actually do. We restrict our thinking to the irrelevant and inconsequential, while large events continue to surprise us and shape our world. In this revelatory book, Taleb will change the way you look at the world, and this second edition features a new philosophical and empirical essay, “On Robustness and Fragility,” which offers tools to navigate and exploit a Black Swan world.

Taleb is a vastly entertaining writer, with wit, irreverence, and unusual stories to tell. He has a polymathic command of subjects ranging from cognitive science to business to probability theory. Elegant, startling, and universal in its applications, The Black Swan is a landmark book—itself a black swan.
 

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User Review  - scottjpearson - LibraryThing

For my job, I work in a technical field with high-level people in medical research who make important decisions that impact many. Thus, though I am not a primary decision-maker, anything I can do to ... Read full review

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User Review  - aadyer - LibraryThing

At times this is a difficult to read polemic on uncertainty. Paragraph whilst the authors charm and obvious erudition come through it is not the easiest of books to read. I do find some parts of it ... Read full review

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Contents

UMBERTO ECOS ANTILIBRARY OR HOWWE SEEK VALIDATION l
3
The Speculator and the Prostitute
26
One Thousand and One Days or How Not to Be a Sucker
38
Confirmation Shmonfirmation
51
The Narrative Fallacy
62
Living in the Antechamber of Hope
85
Giacomo Casanovas Unfailing Luck
100
The Ludic Fallacy or The Uncertainty of the Nerd
122
Half and Half or How to Get Even with the Black Swan
295
GLOSSARY
301
ILearning from Mother Nature the Oldest and the Wisest
307
Do All This Walking or How Systems Become Fragile
324
IllMargaritas Ante Porcos
330
IVAsperger and the Ontological Black Swan
339
VPerhaps the Most Useful Problem in the History
347
Fallacy of the Single Event Probability
355

WE JUST CANT PREDICT
136
How to Look for Bird Poop 1 65
165
Epistemocracy a Dream
190
Appelles the Painter or What Do You Do if
201
THOSE GRAY SWANS OF EXTREMISTAN
213
The Bell Curve That Great Intellectual Fraud
229
The Aesthetics of Randomness
253
Lockes Madmen or Bell Curves in the Wrong Places
274
The Uncertainty of the Phony
286
VlThe Fourth Quadrant the Solution to that Most Useful of Problems
361
VIIWhat to Do with the Fourth Quadrant
367
VIIIThe Ten Principles for a BlackSwanRobust Society
374
NOTES
381
BIBLIOGRAPHY
401
AcKNOWLEDGMENTS FOR THE FIRST EDITION
431
131
437
Copyright

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About the author (2010)

Nassim Nicholas Taleb has devoted his life to problems of uncertainty, probability, and knowledge. He spent nearly two decades as a businessman and quantitative trader before becoming a full-time philosophical essayist and academic researcher in 2006. Although he spends most of his time in the intense seclusion of his study, or as a flâneur meditating in cafés, he is currently Distinguished Professor of Risk Engineering at New York University’s Polytechnic Institute. His main subject matter is “decision making under opacity”—that is, a map and a protocol on how we should live in a world we don’t understand.
 
Taleb’s books have been published in forty-one languages.

Bibliographic information