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)
Taleb could have a more important point to make than his superiority over everyone. The summary of this book is that Taleb really wants to be a Weeble. His summary quotation in Latin, no less, translates to Weebles Wobble But They Don't Fall Down. In other words, if you play the lottery always buy a ticket so you have a chance to win, but never buy so many tickets that if you don't win you are bankrupt. Really? How much of a contribution to the world is that? The movie Body Heat in 1981 said the same thing. "If you are planning a serious crime there are 50 things you can screw up. If you can think of 25 of them you are a genius. And YOU ain't no genius. Save you money and see the movie.
Signal and Noise
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.
This is not only entertaining, but enlightening because it illustrates with easily understandable examples, how randomness affects all of us whether we realize it or not. By applying the principles to our own lives, we may be able to understand our behavior and behavior of others better while giving us an advantage over others who do not understand these things. The author is clever in using illustrations to depict some complex statistical ideas and he does so in a very practical and understandable way that even non-math people can understand.
This is not a dry mathematical book but a very enjoyable read/listen. I kept coming back to it again and again just like any good book that keeps you going until it is finished. I enjoyed The Black Swan and this book is no disappointment - definitely recommend.
Things you might not realize were randomness and how you deal with it in your life.
An interesting book from a very cocky author. Taleb hits important points. I believe if I had read this book earlier in my life, it could have saved me from some of the mistakes that I made. The book is a must for any trader given that it works like a medicin to desinflate one's ego. Still, I believe that the author overestimates the impact of randomness, but just by making the reader aware of its presence and importance, makes it worthwhile the read!!!!!
Taleb offers a wise and humorous look at financial luck and the seemingly irrational swing of many markets around the world. Is it dumb luck or real skill? A great listen and so very interesting.
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.
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