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The Black Swan

written by Matthew Rensberry, MD MBA on 2014-08-20

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:]{style="color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8);"}
[1) Make a distinction between positive contingencies and negative ones]{style="color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8);"}
[2) Don't look for the precise and the local]{style="color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8);"}
[3) Seize any opportunity, or anything that looks like an opportunity]{style="color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8);"}
[4) Beware of precise plans by governments ]{style="color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8);"}
[5) Do not waste your time trying to fight forecasters, stock analysts, economists, and social scientists, except to play pranks on them.]{style="color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8);"}

Here are some quotes I enjoyed from the book:

[A life saved is a statistic, a person hurt is an anecdote. ]{style="color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8);"}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]{style="color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8);"}

[Perhaps the wise one is the one who knows he cannot see things far away. p201]{style="color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8);"}

[Randomness, in the end, is just unknowledge. The world is opaque and appearances fool us. p236]{style="color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8);"}

[...maximize the serendipity around you. p241]{style="color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8);"}

[...when you have a very limited loss you need to get as aggressive, as speculative, and sometimes as "unreasonable" as you can be. p245]{style="color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8);"}

[Pour yourself in situations where favorable consequences are much larger than unfavorable ones. p247]{style="color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8);"}

[...I don't run for trains...]{style="color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8);"}
[Missing a train is only painful if you run after it!....]{style="color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8);"}
[You stand above the rat race and the pecking order, not outside of it, if you do so by choice. ]{style="color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8);"}
[ p332]{style="color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8);"}

That last quote is one to live life by :)