I enjoyed "Fooled by Randomness" and the "Black Swan". Although the same ingredients are on display here, they fail to gel, and some of the less appealing ones, such as Taleb's endless delight at his own self-perceived cleverness and his contempt for generic classes of people (bankers, academics) dominate. The book is devoted to an abstract concept, antifragility, which he uses as a theme to link random observations together. The thematic linkage doesn't succeed, there is no research, the thinking is shallow, the conclusions either trivial or unconvincing, and the main message throughout is "look how much smarter I am than everyone else". Better to read one of his earlier books again; he seems to have run out of things to say, but hasn't realized it.
Taleb has discovered a flaw in our thinking and has written a poignant book about it.
The producers of this book have for some reason decided it was appropriate to BEEP out Taleb's curse words. This is an alteration of the Author's work and I'm finding it offensive. I highly doubt people who are voluntarily reading Nassim Taleb's work will be offended.
There may be some excellent points made in the book, but I can't get past the negativity and pomposity in the storytelling to take any of them to heart. The author is utterly dismissive of any point of view that doesn't perfectly align with his own. The main thing I've taken from the book is that the author seems to genuinely believe that anyone who doesn't agree with his way of thinking is a stupid, pathetic excuse for a human being.
I've tried multiple times to get through the book, but the sneering self-importance in the narrator's tone and the author's words is just revolting. I can't quite tell if the narrator is merely trying to reflect what's in the book, or if he's making it worse with his tone. Either way, it's not a valuable or enjoyable listening experience.
The author's recent successes with his Fooled by Randomness and Black Swan books have clearly gone to his head. Half of the time he speaks about subjects as if he is an expert in the field, but what he's expressing is simply his own untested opinion, which he tries to sell as fact. It's very disappointing considering he has spent most of his time studying probability, yet offers nearly no numbers to back any of his points. Furthermore, he is supposed to be an expert on options, yet he even gets options wrong. At one point he says rent has a FREE embedded option, which in reality is not the case. People that rent a place on a month to month basis pay a lot higher rents than do people that rent a place for a full year; and the difference in price is the cost of the option. If he gets his own field wrong, imagine how much more he gets wrong about the dozens of other fields he talks about. To his credit the author is well read however, and makes a lot of historical references, but most of those referenced do not add much value to the book and just fill up space. I usually take notes of interesting new concepts from books I read, and after this book I had very little to write. I couldn't wait for this book to finish, because I wanted to get it over with, it was painful listening to it. The author prides himself on being sophisticated, but instead of offering higher level thinking and solutions, he fills his book with low hanging fruit endlessly pointing at faults and failures. It doesn't take a genius to figure out people make mistakes, I rather hear about solutions. I just hope this author becomes grounded, more humble, and gets back to making good books in the future.
I will save you 16 hours, and just note the only good points I took away from this book:
-Doctors make mistakes, and sometimes it's better to just let your body heal itself rather than be damaged by unnecessary procedures.
-Most of learning happens through trial and error. Knowledge grows by negative results, and finding out what doesn't work.
-Perceived knowledge in a field sometimes discourages research. (Perhaps because people don't want to learn or spend time disproving all the accumulated information; it seems easier to start from scratch)
-Peoples' minds are wired to more easily remember variations rather than the beginning and ending amounts.
-Models can blow up if assumptions used are due to change; assumptions shouldn't just be based on the recent past alone and instead should take into account the possibility of change.
-Some larger companies are more fragile than smaller companies, like in the investment world it is harder for a larger company to liquidate its investments without driving prices down and simultaneously hurting itself. (But the author fails to note how outside of financial companies, larger size almost always brings more stability.)
Possible one of the best non-fiction books I have "read" in a long time.
I am listening to it again soon.
And in the mean-time I am thinking about how I an apply some of the principals both in my software-development and in my business in general.
The fundamental premise is flawed; he tries to propose a theory that explains numerous phenomena using a single model, which rarely works. The author spends the better part of the first hour skewering academics, economists, doctors, etc. While some of his complaints are legit, I didn't drop $15 to hear someone rant about this stuff.
absolutely. I loved this book, and the narrator did a great job overall.
The book is not presented as the author intended. The bleeping of cursewords was offensive as I am an adult, listening to a work by a person I have high regard for. Regardless of my own feelings on those words, they are part of the author's communication style and part of the final product the author wished to put out into the world.
I don't know who was responsible for the bleeping (not the author or narrator) but it was a terrible decision.
It was a toss up between the interesting and engaging ideas of Mr. Taleb and the narration by Joe Ochman. Mr. Ochman did a fantastic job with this reading. He seem to take Mr. Taleb as a character. His reading gave Mr. Taleb an interesting personality. Mr. Ochman characterized Mr. Taleb as a pompous ass. I've since heard Mr. Taleb speak on video lectures, and he sound far more humble. But I don't believe the book could have been more entertaining even had Mr. Taleb read the book himself. This is a great book for a lot of reasons. Mr. Ochman's narration is just one of them.
Way up there, along with "Black Swan" and "Fooled by Randomness" which happen to be written by the same author. Or maybe I read those, and didn't listen to them; same difference.
This is the sort of stupid and superficial question Nassim Taleb rails against, as a matter of fact. Next time I'll pick "free form."
It's acceptable--I hated how they bleeped out Taleb's strong language, but then the written book has blanks inserted, like they used to do a hundred years ago with "strong" language. That's probably appropriate, since Taleb's a bit of a reactionary, and an appreciator of things historical and old, and that was an old style used in writing. So, not as bothered as I was at first. Joe Ochman didn't get in the way of the story, which is Taleb's, not Ochman's, so that's a good thing.
That would be hard to do--it's not "ear candy." You have to be willing to think about the content, which makes a one sitting listen kind of pointless.
One of the few ideologically free non-fiction writings that can be found, which is really refreshing. Taleb also expects the reader to have no fear of ancient references, also refreshing. He says you can't use events in the past as a blind predictor of the future, also refreshing!
There was much about this book that I enjoyed. For example, Taleb's points about the way that practice precedes theory and is often superior to it.
However, at the end the book veered off into such a hackneyed rant against banks and corporations at the end that I've begun doubting everything that I had found convincing beforehand. How many times does it need to be said? In the TARP program, the banks were not bailed out at the expense of the taxpayers. Rather, the banks were given loans by the government that they subsequently repaid! In his hatred of the financial system, Taleb ignores this fundamental point.
Then he launches into an embarrassingly crude attack on corporations. He talks about Coca-Cola as though it were forcing us to drink sugary drinks. Corporations, by his logic, are imposing an unhealthy lifestyle on the public entirely without their consent! Of course, only large corporations are to blame for this; small companies offer us healthy products. And on Taleb's reasoning we must abandon all marketing because it is akin to personal boasting.
This is just crude, valueless slander of corporate capitalism, and it ruined my experience of the book.