I would highly recommend this book to friends who are looking for a better way with both eyes open: the eye of knowledge and the eye of the empiricist. Taleb has extended himself well beyond the Black Swan. He gives us in Anti-Fragile a new way of looking at the world. He answers why Mother Nature is so enduring and why most man-made complex systems are so fleeting and also why they blow up so spectacularly.The insight I have gained from Anti-Fragile is priceless. I wish many more people would consume this deeply, savoring the incongruity with one's knowledge and the real world. We are all 'suckers' if we do not. I can only aspire to be more like Fat Tony.
Anti-Fragile is the simplest idea I NEVER heard of. This book shakes what one knows to its foundations. Even if you loved the Black Swan this book is 'not da same ting'.
I think his narration is superb.
No. Many sittings, many times over.
I like Taleb's books, that's because I like his story.
But this time I don't get it. The story gets lost when a annoying beep makes me lose my train of thought.
Is this recording defective?
Or am I missing something here.
I'll try to ask for my money back.
I always go for unabridged.
Should I now also find out if the book was messed up by beepling idiots?
Old & fat, but strong; American, Chinese, & Indian (sort of); Ph.D. in C.S.; strategy, economics & stability theory; trees & machining.
The 1960s’ (earlier or later depending on the field) represented the zenith of a particular collection of ways of thinking about applied probability, about large systems, and about epistemology. Defining this paradigm is tricky. I think of Thomas Kuhn, Kalman Filters, NASA’s approach to quality, Karl Popper, and the invention of the FFT, but list is too idiosyncratic to be helpful. But the point here is that this way of thinking (which I have trouble defining) has given way to a new paradigm that is more about complexity theory (although not so much about chaos theory), network affects, heavy tail distribution, facials, and the unknowable. This book is trying to explain this new paradigm.
Taleb’s technical papers have contributed some to the development of this new paradigm, but his great contribution is the creation of an accessible philosophy built around this new science. This philosophical construction started with Fooled by Randomness, progressed in The Black Swan, and now culminates in Anti-Fragile.
To “get it” you probably have to just read the books, but I’ll try to explain. In Fooled by Randomness he examines the oft practiced money manager con, where you are sold a betting system is right 80% of the time. Sounds like a winner, but beware, the losses when the scheme is wrong are more than 4 times the winning when it’s right. Many a high wage earner has been bilked by myriad versions of this con. In The Black Swan he follows the question of how such cons are constructed, to propose that reality is partitioned into two types of probability distributions: those like the distribution of the height of people and those like the distributions of the wealth of people. The latter distribution is incomprehensibly more varied than the former. He then asserts that randomness fools use when we confusion the two kinds of randomness. In the Anti-Fragile he considers how the two types of randomness are constructed. It is well known that the low variance type arise from combining lots of independent events and the high variability type arise form feedback between lots of connected events.
And then his punch line is … large systems with lots of feedback among the connected parts can be fragile as when the connections cause cascading failures, or they can be anti-fragile as when small failures lead to compensations that strengthen the system. This insight leads to a way of about almost everything.
Oh yea, the alternate title might be, “The Quasi-Organized Ranting of a Misunderstood Genius”. He has learned that anti-fragile things benefit from verity, adversity, and controversy; and has concluded that writing popular books falls in this category. So in each book he increases the narcissus, the adolescence, and the taunting. In this book I think the new high water mark was when he said his former boss was constipated. I hope he hasn’t crossed a threshold were the anti-fragile is simply annihilated.
Narrator of this book is the Anti-Nassim! Narrator is too friendly and nice. The intensity of Taleb's arguments are turned into bedtime stories. Along with the packaging/cover of the book- unbelievablly bad decisions about how too market the book.
Too nice! Fast. Does not come close to capturing the ESSENCE of what he is reading. This narrator should stick to fiction.
This is an arrogant and incoherent book and there were many misrepresentations of historical trends. He makes analogies that don't stand. A waste of money and time. My intellect was crying.
All of it.
There were some interesting facts about history.
Cut out 3/4 of the book, all the self-indulgent egotistical bosh. He appears to believe we owe him hours of our time attending to his sniveling about how he's the first person in the universe to have a coherent thought, and all the rest of us dumb barbarians hate him. He desperately needed an editor to sit him down and burn the boring pages in front of him, but he appears to be too fragile to cope with that. That he mistakes his inability to edit himself with courage is ironic, and it's downright pathetic that he felt so threatened by his so-called "enemies" that he literally tries to make himself look physically strong. Read/listen to Nate Silver for what this book could have been.
That it took SOOOO freakin' long for him to say anything that I was interested in hearing.
Poor Joe! He did a pretty good job of representing the whiney and yet over-bearing tone of that uncle you really hope doesn't show up for Thanksgiving dinner, but I'm afraid his voice will now forever be associated with it in my mind. I don't know if I'll be able to listen to another book narrated by him unless he can radically change his delivery. The other significantly annoying thing about the narration was the bleeping-out of words. The first time this happened, I was on a plane, and I thought it was some alarm; I practically jumped out of my seat. Then when it happened again, apparently randomly, I thought it was the passenger next to me, who had their phone out. Finally, when I heard it in the airport lounge, I realized it was coming from the narration! After that it was just completely annoying and distracting. Very bad production decision. If you can force yourself to listen to Taleb at any length, his vulgar language is the least of your problems.
Incredible frustration. I was quite interested in the ideas, but screamingly bored and annoyed by the immaturity of the ego-trip. I listen a lot while driving, and for most of the first half, trying to excavate a few gems from the pile of ego sh*t, I was mostly in the mood to stop, kick him to the curb in the Montana wilderness and let him practice being anti-fragile with a passing grizzly. I nearly didn't even download the second half. After I finally held my breath and plunged into the ego-pigsty again, he eventually seems to have run out of (most of) his hot air, and get down to some interesting concepts. I even smiled once--at the part about the ancient technology of shoes, and how we're now being sold a technology for going barefoot. There's some fun, interesting stuff in there, but WHY make it such punishment to get to it?
I would highly recommend reading this in print, so that if you're interested in the ideas, you can skim most of it, particularly the first half. Or good lord, get this guy a ferocious editor, he's in desperate need of help.
If you've read any of his other work, you know there are a lot of people in the world whom Nassim Taleb does not like, and they feature prominently in his writing. The fourth time he described Harvard as "Soviet" (which occurred in the first fifteen minutes of this book), I concluded that Taleb has lost his bearings and drifted off (I fear permanently) into incoherent ranting, and have reluctantly written him off.
What's to say? By this point you either love or hate Taleb, though I have yet to read or hear of any good refutations to his points.
For those who hate him, all I seem to hear is that they don't care for his personality. Oh well. I obviously think very highly of his writing even though I wouldn't agree with every opinion or view. Overall though he's a breath of fresh air in a world otherwise given over to bread and circuses.
ha2tim is a SelfMastery Coach, NationBuilder, Urban Shaman, and Hip-Hop Philospha
This is simply one of the best books I have ever read. The insights are powerful and ideas can be applied to your life.
What made it least enjoyable was some small group of cretins at Random House who decided they should censor various words with which they have trouble with.
I suggest to anyone who can't handle the word bull $hit and the like should go back to reading picture books.
Random House, you should be ashamed.
He performed great.