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.
This is a great book, and the performance is fine, but all of the 4 letter words are 'beeped' out. This is incredibly bizarre, and no other Audible book I've heard does this. Worse, the beeping is incredibly irritating. If Audible insists that we shouldn't hear bad words in this book, just mute the audio (don't worry, we can't read lips in an audio book). But don't use a loud, obnoxious BEEEEEEEP. The beeping pretty much ruins the whole experience.
The obnoxious beeping of the bad words is bizarre.
It is long winded. Pontificating. Pompous. Righteous. I find these things very annoying and take away from the concepts. It feels as though he is trying to make others wrong rather than provide sound advice.
I thought it was well read. For a book that went on and on, I felt engaged.
I really do love the concept. It gets me thinking more than doing.
He has some excellent points. But they get lost in the noise. If there were a one or two hour abridged version, I suspect it would have even greater impact and be more useful.
Taleb is brilliant and challenges conventional wisdom. I think reading a summary though would be just as effective as his full length books.
Publishers don't like to publish 30-50 page books as they are too short to sell. However this book feels like it could have been way shorter. The little stories and anecdotes all start to so obviously come to the same conclusion. He spends WAY too much time being defensive of his ideas. It doesn't feel like he's making a "defense" it feels like he is being defensive like an insecure teacher at times.
Joe did a solid job making technical stuff flow smoothly.
Jack of all Trades, Master of None
I think his description of the "State of the World" is quite good. It fails in it's conclusions though.
The "present day assessment" rang mostly true.
I like how he captures the voice of the author. It adds a nice familiarity to it.
How someone I highly respect can still turn out to be deeply flawed. See next section.
More of a negative note here: Over the previous books I developed a huge respecte for Taleb. I found myself also nodding along quite a lot with what he described as the state of the world, but where he lost me was in his conclusions and interpretations.
Just two reasons.
He rightfully admires "the ancients" (Romans, Greek) for their philosophical accomplishment. Having read Lucrecius "The Nature of things" I was in similar awe and surprise. Having said that, to extend their philosophical accomplishments into that of modern science strikes me as ludicrous.
The second thing is one specific example: He writes about how can't we know that eating three solid meals doesn't have any benefits (in comparison to the recent recommendation to "graze" instead of stuffing yourself three times a day). The problem with this argument is that the three meals a day are falling back onto the industrial age, when life and time started to be dominated by the clock, not human nature. This flies straight into the face of his own assertion that he doesn't eat anything that isn't at least 2000 years old (I could now ask why 2000 years? But that's just nitpicking) because everything since then is "tainted".
I admit, it makes me a bit sad to have gotten the impression that Taleb is a bit of a Neo-Luddite.
The author has strong opinions that are not backed up by facts. He paints with a broad brush, dismissing people and institutions, and doesn't bother to document good reasons for those opinions. He writes as if he is delivering a novel and original view, but it's not grounded in much. The substance and evidence that he does provide is not well connected to the leaps of logic that he takes in his argument.
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.