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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.
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 *