Set against the backdrop of the most conspicuous forum in which luck is mistaken for skill, the world of trading, this audiobook is a captivating insight into one of the least understood factors of all our lives. In an entertaining narrative style, the author succeeds in tackling three major intellectual issues: the problem of induction, the survivorship biases, and our genetic unfitness to the modern word. Taleb uses stories and anecdotes to illustrate our overestimation of causality and the heuristics that make us view the world as far more explainable than it actually is.
The audiobook is populated with an array of characters, some of whom have grasped, in their own way, the significance of chance: Yogi Berra, the baseball legend; Karl Popper, the philosopher of knowledge; Solon, the ancient world's wisest man; the modern financier George Soros; and the Greek voyager Ulysses. We also meet the fictional Nero, who seems to understand the role of randomness in his professional life, but who also falls victim to his own superstitious foolishness.
But the most recognizable character remains unnamed, the lucky fool in the right place at the right time - the embodiment of the "Survival of the Least Fit". Such individuals attract devoted followers who believe in their guru's insights and methods. But no one can replicate what is obtained through chance.
It may be impossible to guard against the vagaries of the Goddess Fortuna, but after listening to Fooled by Randomness we can be a little better prepared.
©2004 Nassim Nicholas Taleb; (P)2008 Gildan Media Corp
"[Taleb is] Wall Street's principal dissident....[Fooled by Randomness] is to conventional Wall Street wisdom approximately what Martin Luther's ninety-nine theses were to the Catholic Church." (Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker)
"An articulate, wise, and humorous meditation on the nature of success and failure that anyone who wants a little more of the former would do well to consider." (Amazon.com)
I really enjoyed this book, although trying to listen to it AND doing whatever is a little tough; requires some thought or multiple listenings. It's an easier read than his other book, The Black Swan, but what great information and what a cogent system he has worked out. I highly recommend it.
An eye opening and thought provoking book. Essential for anyone interested in the stock market, but also for those involved in science.
After nearly 2 hrs of listening I had to give up. There are endless teasers about "what's to come" but very little is ultimately delivered. What little there is comes capped by unbelievable shoddiness: "and I imagine that few of those people today are . . ." How about doing a little investigating and THEN writing a book? Random House published this "outline for a book" and fooled us all.
Do I have to give it a star? I wonder what book the positive reviewers listened to. I wish I had bought that one instead. I have to admit that there was fair warning in the opening pages that what was to follow would be a stream-of-consciousness opinionated diatribe without the slightest foundation of research or reason. I cannot decide whether the narrator's smarminess was artistic contribution or an unavoidable consequence of reading these empty egotistical prattlings.
Read "The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives" by Leonard Mlodinow instead, if you prefer to be entertained or enlightened by the subject, but still don't want to do any math.
In this book, among other things, Taleb tries too hard to prove that he's personally made it, perhaps, as an evidence of his "hyper conservative" approach to investing. I'm sure he knows that had he started his carrier in early 1930s, he would be broke before he had the opportunity to write a book about hyper conservatism. His obsession with randomness to the point of elevating it to "the reason" for almost anyone's success is border line absurd. He argues that a group of incompetent investors (20% win, 80% loss) can produce a few winners by pure luck, but he seems to ignore the other side of the argument. A group of highly competent investors (80% win, 20% loss) will produce the same results over time. The end result can not be used to label everybody a lucky fool. A competent investor will be the victim of own success since everybody will imitate his strategy causing opportunists to diminish hence requiring ever greater risk taking to match previous earnings. This endless re-use of the same formula for success is what ultimately will do him in.
In another example, he sees Microsoft vs. Apple dominance in personal computers as another random luck. Perhaps he despises economists so much he's forgot to apply basic economics to the situation. Apple didn't succeed not because people didn't know how great it was, it didn't because it was too expensive and people, myself included, couldn't afford it.
If you see randomness everywhere you look, stop looking. Making fun of business people because they're too uptight is not too convincing when it comes from somebody who has the luxury of pondering philosophical points while sipping latte in a cafe near by a Swiss ski resort. He just needs to be thankful for how lucky he is, period.
The book was for me, a 'black swan experience'. Audible's statistical rating system does not allow for due credit. I would have given it 10 stars!
The book has some good points and interesting thoughts but it is difficult to get by how much the author clearly thinks he is better then anyone else. This book is not worth the listen.
Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
Intuition suggests incredulity as first reaction to Nassim Taleb’s book, “Fooled by Randomness”; the second instinctive reaction is author arrogance. Incredulity comes from Taleb’s argument that everything that happens in life is random or, at best, probabilistic. Perception of arrogance comes from Taleb’s smug presentation–a "believe me or don’t" because it works for me attitude. However, by the end of Taleb’s book, a reader begins to believe there is more insight than arrogance in his opinion.
Taleb argues that understanding probability is important but no guarantee of results in life or markets. Taleb particularly decries distortion by market and political pundits that correlate current events with future outcomes. News reports that say the market fell or rose because of an event in Africa or Russia are meaningless and unprovable correlations. Taleb believes in the value of quantification but in the limited sense of probability; not precise correlation. Further, Taleb argues that a wise investor places prudent bets on Black Swans that offer small losses and big wins in an unforeseeable, probabilistic future. One might add caveat-emptor, unless he/she is Nassim Taleb.
As Jonathan Haidt explains in “The Righteous Mind”–the elephant of desire will do what it wants, even with a skilled human rider. Life is random because reason is always influenced by desire.
This book has been a great listen. It was revealing, insightfull and confrontational. I liked it so much, that I listened to it twice in a row.
I recommend it highly to anyone not afraid to take honest new look at himself and the way he sees the world.
I really enjoyed the ideas put forward in this book and I think it is very important that randomness and statistics be better understood in society. That said, the author of the book is long-winded, imperious, and extremely self focused. "I" is the most common word used throughout the book while the author disdains his fellow traders on Wall Street, his fellow MBA's, and his fellow academics.
If you can get past the author, the ideas and information of the book is worth the effort.
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