Book Review: The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Rating: 5/5

One sentence: This book overturns the validity of whole fields and quite a few Nobel prize-winners.

Using stories, this book shows how stories are very bad ways to describe reality. However, they are necessary for us to think about complex and abstract concepts. That as our knowledge of specific, isolated phenomena has grown, the interlinking complexity has resulted in a world that is more unpredictable than ever before.

I have frequently ascribed causes to some events by saying that they reach “equilibrium” or “revert to the mean”. I now know that it is completely false in many cases. Where equilibrium does exist is in physics. Alas, the social, political and informational world do not obey the laws of the bell curve.

We are not equipped to live in a world so far removed from our evolutionary history. As a result, we are blind to logic and prone to see patterns where none exist. You need an infinite amount of data to prove some theories conclusively, but only one piece of data to disprove them. Yet, data that contradicts predictions are mostly ignored.

Really, as humans we know almost nothing, and the more we think we know, the more likely we are to be wrong. It is entirely possible that our very existence, and all major innovations, were completely random and impossible to predict specifically.

This is a book that deserves to be a bestseller. Unlike many of the other books that became famous, merely by chance.

To happiness, and beyond!

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