The Black Swan

This book was amazing. It has heavily influenced the way I look at life and the world. I wish I understood Taleb’s points better and could better explain them to others.

Recently, I have found the concept of randomness and randomness in our daily lives simply fascinating. I cannot seem to get enough of it, and I am falling in love with statistics (slightly out of love with the bell curve though…thanks Nassim).

My favorite takeaway points are summarized in these points:

Take advantage of Black Swans:
1) Make a distinction between positive contingencies and negative ones
2) Don’t look for the precise and the local
3) Seize any opportunity, or anything that looks like an opportunity
4) Beware of precise plans by governments
5) Do not waste your time trying to fight forecasters, stock analysts, economists, and social scientists, except to play pranks on them.

Here are some quotes I enjoyed from the book:

A life saved is a statistic, a person hurt is an anecdote. p148

…you may have to denarrate, that is, shut down the television set, minimize time reading newspapers, ignore the blogs. Train your reasoning abilities to control your decisions… p169


Train yourself to spot the difference between the sensational and the empirical. p169

Perhaps the wise one is the one who knows he cannot see things far away. p201

Randomness, in the end, is just unknowledge. The world is opaque and appearances fool us. p236

…maximize the serendipity around you. p241

…when you have a very limited loss you need to get as aggressive, as speculative, and sometimes as “unreasonable” as you can be. p245

Pour yourself in situations where favorable consequences are much larger than unfavorable ones. p247

…I don’t run for trains…
Missing a train is only painful if you run after it!….
You stand above the rat race and the pecking order, not outside of it, if you do so by choice.
p332

That last quote is one to live life by 🙂