The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

ISBN: 1846140455
The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable cover image

Nassim Taleb… I would liken him to marmite, but I think his style may be more equivalent to a bitter medicine of meandering self-agrandisation which (strangely) leaves you in a far better place than where you started.

To be fair to the guy, he has every reason to be pleased with himself - his approach to risk, and in particular unknowable risk is eye opening.

Taleb’s sceptical take on the financial system shines a light on how they only consider computable risk - that is those which are known about in the first place, and which are possible to reason about.

A key quote:

If you hear a “prominent” economist using the word equilibrium, or normal distribution, do not argue with him; just ignore him, or try to put a rat down his shirt.

A quote I now wheel out reguarly:

To borrow from Warren Buffett, don’t ask the barber if you need a haircut.

This book did update my thinking about risk and how my mental models of world/universe were missing out on so much unknowable risk.