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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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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