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Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets | [Nassim Nicholas Taleb]

Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets

This audiobook is about luck, or more precisely, how we perceive and deal with luck in life and business. It is already a landmark work, and its title has entered our vocabulary. In its second edition, Fooled by Randomness is now a cornerstone for anyone interested in random outcomes.
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Publisher's Summary

This audiobook is about luck, or more precisely, how we perceive and deal with luck in life and business. It is already a landmark work and its title has entered our vocabulary. In its second edition, Fooled by Randomness is now a cornerstone for anyone interested in random outcomes.

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

What the Critics Say

"[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)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Aryn Pullman, WA; United States 07-07-08
    Aryn Pullman, WA; United States 07-07-08 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Amazingly well thought out"

    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.

    6 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marten Washington, DC, USA 01-22-08
    Marten Washington, DC, USA 01-22-08 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Taleb tells it like it is"

    An eye opening and thought provoking book. Essential for anyone interested in the stock market, but also for those involved in science.

    7 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael West Hollywood, CA, United States 04-09-09
    Michael West Hollywood, CA, United States 04-09-09
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    "Fooled by Random House"

    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.

    13 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Raised by Wolves Plano, TX United States 05-20-10
    Raised by Wolves Plano, TX United States 05-20-10 Member Since 2009
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    "Fooled, for certain"

    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.

    7 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kamran Houston, TX, United States 02-22-09
    Kamran Houston, TX, United States 02-22-09 Member Since 2005
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    "Disappointing! Get Black Swan Instead."

    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.

    13 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Manie Florida, USA 11-26-08
    Manie Florida, USA 11-26-08 Member Since 2006
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    "A Black Swan Experience"

    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!

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    PugFamily 02-03-08
    PugFamily 02-03-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
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    "The Author Thinks He Is Great!"

    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.

    12 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeroen Berkel en Rodenrijs, Netherlands 06-24-14
    Jeroen Berkel en Rodenrijs, Netherlands 06-24-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Nobody can predict the future"
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ken Eagle Rock, CA, United States 03-26-14
    Ken Eagle Rock, CA, United States 03-26-14 Member Since 2003
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    "Great information but..."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sam Motes Tampa 03-21-14
    Sam Motes Tampa 03-21-14 Member Since 2011

    Audible obsessed lifelong learner.

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    "A well organized read on random topic"

    This book covered much of the same ground as Taleb’s Black Swan book but still a worthwhile read on randomness. It is a good yet unsettling read since it points out we are not as in control of our environment as we would like to think.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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