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The Black Swan

The Impact of the Highly Improbable

By Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Format: Paperback, 480 pages
Other Information: Illustrations
Published In: United Kingdom, 01 February 2008
Nassim Nicholas Taleb's phenomenal international bestseller The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable shows us how to stop trying to predict everything - and take advantage of uncertainty. What have the invention of the wheel, Pompeii, the Wall Street Crash, Harry Potter and the internet got in common? Why are all forecasters con-artists? What can Catherine the Great's lovers tell us about probability? Why should you never run for a train or read a newspaper? This book is all about Black Swans: the random events that underlie our lives, from bestsellers to world disasters. Their impact is huge; they're impossible to predict; yet after they happen we always try to rationalize them. 'Taleb is a bouncy and even exhilarating guide ... I came to relish what he said, and even develop a sneaking affection for him as a person' Will Self, Independent on Sunday 'He leaps like some superhero of the mind' Boyd Tonkin, Independent 'Funny, quirky and thought-provoking ... confirms his status as a guru for every would-be Damien Hirst, George Soros and aspirant despot' John Cornwell, Sunday Times 'Idiosyncratically brilliant' Niall Ferguson, Sunday Telegraph 'Great fun ... brash, stubborn, entertaining, opinionated, curious, cajoling' Stephen J. Dubner, Co-Author of Freakonomics

About the Author

Nassim Nicholas Taleb is a radical no-nonsense philosopher for our times. He has spent his life immersing himself in problems of luck, uncertainty, probability, and knowledge, and he has led three high-profile careers around his ideas, as a man of letters, as a businessman-trader, and as a university professor and researcher. He is currently Distinguished Professor of Risk Engineering at New York University's School of Engineering. He is the author of the 4-volume INCERTO (Antifragile, The Black Swan, Fooled by Randomness, and The Bed of Procrustes). Taleb refuses all awards and honours as they debase knowledge by turning it into competitive sports.

Reviews

Taleb is concerned with black swans, i.e., unpredictable and improbable events that have great impact. Among the examples of these he cites are the rapid spread of the Internet and the 9/11 attacks. People endeavor to explain black swans after they occur, but they cannot do so in advance. Despite the crucial effects of these events, economists and other supposed experts in prediction fail to allow for them; indeed, their theories often deny their possibility. Because of this failure, Taleb maintains that much business forecasting is useless. To him, only a few economists, e.g., Friedrich Hayek, grasp the vital importance of uncertainty and escape condemnation. Taleb extends his indictment of conventional approaches to risk, contending that the bell curve, a key tool of many standard theories, often fails to fit the actual world. He further posits that people tend not to cope with a black swan properly, tailoring their response to specific details of the incident rather than generalizing their response. Taleb's excellent book, which continues and extends his earlier Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets, effectively exposes many common illusions. Recommended for all collections.--David Gordon, Bowling Green State Univ., OH Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Great fun ... brash, stubborn, entertaining, opinionated, curious, cajoling * Freakonomics * An idiosyncratically brilliant new book * Sunday Telegraph * A fascinating study of how we are regularly taken for suckers by the unexpected * Guardian * Like the conversation of a raconteur ... hugely enjoyable - compelling * Financial Times * Confirms his status as a guru for every would-be Damien Hirst, George Soros and aspirant despot * Sunday Times * In the tradition of The Wisdom of Crowds and The Tipping Point * Time *

EAN: 9780141034591
ISBN: 0141034599
Publisher: Penguin Books, Limited (UK)
Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.9 x 2.7 centimetres (0.34 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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2 review(s)
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John on
 
The first half of the book requires considerable concentration to understand the concepts and unusual language.
The second half illustrates Nassim Taleb's theories of uncertainty and future predictions. It makes interesting reading but is not a light easily read book or for the faint-hearted.
Allan on
 
Great book for those seeking insights into managing risks - either for investments or any other part of life. The author uses his own experiences and the anecdotes and mathematics are readily understandable for the layman. Given what has happened to financial markets over the last year, this book should be compulsory reading by any banker, investment manager or investor.

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