The Black Swan, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Missing a train is only painful if you run after it! Likewise, not matching the idea of success others expect from you is only painful if that’s what you are seeking.

Rating: 4/5
Author: Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Genre: non-fiction
Publisher: Penguin

The Black SwanThis book is definitely out of my comfort zone and not something I would naturally pick up, but I am glad I read it. Some of NNT’s ideas will persist over time; however, from my amateur standpoint, that may mean that I will only be able to measure their impact in hindsight.

NNT’s style may not be to everyone’s liking, but beyond that, the influence of being exposed to a theory to which we are all inevitably subject to due to our human nature is increasingly difficult to ignore. A Black Swan is an event that meets the following criteria: it is an outlier, it carries an extreme impact, and it becomes predictable or explainable only in retrospect (think 9/11, Google or cultural phenomena, such as Harry Potter).
Our mind is incapable of formulating events that will dramatically change our lives, though we will have no issue citing a list of explanations afterward, including all the apparent facts that led us up to that point. We rely on the past because it is the only thing we are sure of, as it successfully provides the narrative that we desperately cling to rationalize the present and predict the future. Consequently, we believe we know more than we do, which lead us to make decisions and take risks based on a series of strict rules, wherein extreme deviations from the norm and its subsequent impact are not conceived.

The goal of this book is not to offer solutions to aid us in the decision-making process. The very essence of the Black Swan theory hints the futility of predicting a Black Swan, conceding that such events will not be perceived equally by everyone. Following the analogy offered by the author, we can only do our best to identify areas of vulnerability and be more resilient to avoid becoming a turkey.


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