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)
An interesting book that is enlivened by stories of various traders and insults targeted at journalists, economists, MBAs, and philistines in general. He comes off as kind of arrogant and condesending but since I'm too thick to understand that he's talking about me, I find the irreverent tone rather enjoyable. He does a great job on a difficult topic.
Many reviews of this book point out that the author is arrogant, and I agree, but
this arrogance probably comes from his insecurity of, after all, still being in the
financial industry that he seems to despise. He cannot get out of it.
The issue of "fooled by randomness" applies to so many aspects of life,
not just financial industry. There are some insightful comments in the book.
If you expect to learn many things from this book,
you may be disappointed. For the first couple of hours, his snideness and arrogance
bothered me, but then I began to enjoy listening to this frustrated flawed character
who occasionally speaks truth in a tragicomedy style.
Taleb's master work and must read is The Black Swan (not the movie) and it's amazing. This is a sparse shadow of that book.
End of the world and Sci Fi are my favorites with a lot of historical fiction added in
The theme was both disorganized and too narrowly focused on financial traders? It lacked specific real world cases and examples.
I think of the two Taleb books I listened to, I prefer this. Both are interesting, with inspired and creative thought experiments and new ways of looking at problems and such, but the actor here did a better job of being likeable, and not coming off as vain and pretentious and holier-than-all. So it was easier to listen to and I think truer to who Taleb probably is. Other books of interest might be the "Freakonomics" books if you like this or wonder if you will like it. This does not guide you on how to get rich or predict the future, if that is what you are looking for. Its just a general interest intellectual book.
The central idea of this book is interesting, but I have not read a book this badly written in years. I fully agree with another review saying that there is about 10 pages of meat and the rest is just fat. The author jumps between subjects like a frantic circus clown spinning plates on sticks, but in the end you see there is only one plate, one stick and a whole lot of pottery shards. Much ado about nothing. There are so many references to topics coming later in the book that by the middle you can anticipate them and start lip-syncing along. The one part where I disagree with the other reviewers is in the narration - I found the narrator to be clear and well paced. But good narration and a good central concept don't make up for a simply feeble writing style. If this book was re-organised to follow a logical train of thought, leading to a definite conclusion, it would be worth reading. It would also be much, much shorter.
The book contains the badly organized thoughts of a trader who started playing with computers and only later read that what he was doing had a certain scientific relevance, rarely considered by traders like him. And he must have felt like the prophet because that's how he exposes in most of the book, introducing anonymous characters and, worst of all if you're looking for a scientific book, his own terminology for concepts that already have one.
This book is the last straw: I will never again buy books about scientific concepts that are not written by a scientist.
Regarding the audio editing, the division in chapters of the audio doesn't follow that of the book, although extremely long (almost awkward) pauses have been left between the (too many) chapters and paragraphs of the book, making the listening frustrating.
? does the noisy clutter of modern life fool and overwhelm you
? is it hard to sort out cause and effect and true meaning
? does it seem, you just can't connect the dots the way you'd like to
nassim taleb (NT) has written an arrogant and insightful book for you
he elegantly teases out the increasing role of randomness in our lives
but his smug style, makes the truth of his message a bit hard to swallow
most human beings aren't hard wired for dispassionate observation
we bring with us prejudices, fears, doubts and a healthy dose of ignorance
it's hard for us to tell the difference between "co-incident" and "caused"
NT repeatedly relates the story of his many successes on wall street
his ability to not "be fooled" has made him a gifted stock picker
but making rich men richer wasn't enough for him, so he wrote this book
the cognitive strain of insightful thinking may simply be beyond some people
they're content to take what they're given and not sift it out too much
but if you'd like to see through the BS, clutter and noise NT would like to help
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 enjoyed the subject but the author doesn't organize the content very well, so it takes some effort to get what he's saying. I may read it again.
Sean Pratt was not the narrator of my audio book. It was narrated by Lloyd James. I thought the narrator did a good job.
Will listen again
Essential listening for any human being. It's a shame I'll go back to my old behaviour
"Does what it says on the tin"
If the title of the book intrigues you, I would suggest it is worth purchasing. The book is a very personal look at our natural biases in predicting the outcome of chance events, with particular reference to the stock market.
I found this book thoroughly entertaining despite having no interest in trading. For each new concept or topic of discussion well prepared real world examples are included which illustrate the author's point very well.
As the author has taken pains in include his personality in his style of writing I can understand why some readers may find this quite an opinionated work, however, this was not an issue for me as I found myself grasping and accepting the author's view at almost every turn.
The narrator was easy to listen to - but, I think he had a pretty easy job with no character reading to do.
"Opens your eyes to randomness"
If you can look past the fact that the author does on occasion come across as a bit full of himself, you'll be rewarded by some enlightening insights that will change the way you see the impact of randomness on the world. This book will help you on your way to distinguishing the signal from the noise and there is more noise than you might have thought.
"Fooled By Randomness"
For any one who works (or thinks they might work) in a profession, or who has an interest in a subject or behaviour that is affected by randomness this is a must read (listen).
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