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Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder | [Nassim Nicholas Taleb]

Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

In The Black Swan Taleb outlined a problem, and in Antifragile he offers a definitive solution: how to gain from disorder and chaos while being protected from fragilities and adverse events. For what Taleb calls the "antifragile" is actually beyond the robust, because it benefits from shocks, uncertainty, and stressors, just as human bones get stronger when subjected to stress and tension. The antifragile needs disorder in order to survive and flourish. Taleb stands uncertainty on its head, making it desirable, even necessary, and proposes that things be built in an antifragile manner.
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Publisher's Summary

From the best-selling author of The Black Swan and one of the foremost thinkers of our time, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a book on how some things actually benefit from disorder.

In The Black Swan Taleb outlined a problem, and in Antifragile he offers a definitive solution: how to gain from disorder and chaos while being protected from fragilities and adverse events. For what Taleb calls the "antifragile" is actually beyond the robust, because it benefits from shocks, uncertainty, and stressors, just as human bones get stronger when subjected to stress and tension. The antifragile needs disorder in order to survive and flourish.

Taleb stands uncertainty on its head, making it desirable, even necessary, and proposes that things be built in an antifragile manner. The antifragile is immune to prediction errors. Why is the city-state better than the nation-state, why is debt bad for you, and why is everything that is both modern and complicated bound to fail? The audiobook spans innovation by trial and error, health, biology, medicine, life decisions, politics, foreign policy, urban planning, war, personal finance, and economic systems. And throughout, in addition to the street wisdom of Fat Tony of Brooklyn, the voices and recipes of ancient wisdom, from Roman, Greek, Semitic, and medieval sources, are heard loud and clear.

Extremely ambitious and multidisciplinary, Antifragile provides a blueprint for how to behave - and thrive - in a world we don't understand, and which is too uncertain for us to even try to understand and predict. Erudite and witty, Taleb’s message is revolutionary: What is not antifragile will surely perish.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

©2012 Nassim Nicholas Taleb (P)2012 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"[This] is the lesson of Taleb...and also the lesson of our volatile times. There is more courage and heroism in defying the human impulse, in taking the purposeful and painful steps to prepare for the unimaginable." (Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point)

"[Taleb writes] in a style that owes as much to Stephen Colbert as it does to Michel de Montaigne." (The Wall Street Journal)

"The most prophetic voice of all.... [Taleb is] a genuinely significant philosopher...someone who is able to change the way we view the structure of the world through the strength, originality and veracity of his ideas alone." (GQ)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Will Bahamas 12-08-12
    Will Bahamas 12-08-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Taleb's Recipe for a Free and Affluent Society"

    I had a lot of wonderful "Aha" moments listening to this audio book about Antifragile vs. Fragile systems. The author has identified a key underlying paradyne for failure or success, whether personal, in business or with government programs.

    Long ago, another book: Leadership and the new science by Margaret Wheatley convinced me that nature is self organizing and business can be set up to be self organizing. Nassim Nicholas Taleb echo's that idea and states, the natural order is overwhelmingly Antifragile, while our manmade order tends to be Fragile. The earth and mankind have evolved all by themselves without some great leader calling the shots, because nature is Antifragile. If we listen/obey leaders who tell us how to live our own lives (which we already know intuitively and logically), we are likely to become Fragile.

    Fragility is all about risks. An activity is Fragile, if the downside (negative) risks predominate over the upside risks or the downside risks are greater than the upsize risks. Fragile is the property of most manmade systems. How does that apply to us? Modernity has created structures that allows certain groups of people, like corporate bankers, politicians and academics to take excessive risks without any skin in the game and thereby pass the downside consequences onto others, making them Fragile. One way avoid this Nassim Nicholas Taleb argues, is to make ourselves Antifragile by insisting all decisions makers affecting our lives have skin in the game. However, bankers, politicians and academics usually have no skin in the game. In fact, often they gain at the expense of the people they serve. So the solution is, limit the size and power of banks, corporations and government to minimize the damage.

    Taleb also points out that top down decisions by leaders who don't understand complex system, such as our economy, and have no skin in the game pass laws/regulations that make small problems large; for example our Financial Crisis:

    1. The Federal Reserve made our financial system Fragile when it tried to prevent a small adjustment/recession by keeping interest rates too low and ended up causing a housing bubble plus the great recession.

    2. Taxpayers became Fragile when large banks took excessive downside risk because the government protected the banks against that risk at taxpayer expense.

    There is a bit of fluff in the book, but overall Taleb makes a great case limiting downsize risk and how we can achieve it. He deserves Nobel Prize.

    19 of 25 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rowdy L Vinson 12-26-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Uninteresting perspectives from a sensationalist"

    Taleb has a bone to pick. Apparently, it's with air conditioners, insurance companies, dietitians, economists, and academics (a group in which he, himself, must be included). He thinks that all of these people/things keep us from suffering enough to be strong. Save yourself the time and pick up anything by Gladwell, it'll be a better read with much less hateful navel-gazing.

    15 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    GST Harrison, NY 12-20-12
    GST Harrison, NY 12-20-12 Member Since 2003

    Listener

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Self indulgent, shallow, and undisciplined"
    What disappointed you about Antifragile?

    Vain anti-intellectual posturing. Ideas could be captured in 3 minutes, bloated into 15 hours.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Re-read Nate Silver's "Signal and Noise"


    What three words best describe Joe Ochman’s performance?

    Bullsh*t in, bullsh*t out. Not his fault.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    No. I regret the money and time spent.


    16 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Omar USA 05-30-14
    Omar USA 05-30-14 Member Since 2011

    “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” - Albert Einstein

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Must"

    It is very hard to accept all the ideas presented in this book (or any of Taleb's books) but that is an author that makes you think about and challenge everything he comes across. An instant classic.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Yoav Toronto, ON, Canada 10-16-13
    Yoav Toronto, ON, Canada 10-16-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Awful"
    What would have made Antifragile better?

    Antifragile is about some bitter person who feels that no one respects them and how anti-fragile they are in their resentment of their peers.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Nassim Nicholas Taleb again?

    no


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    The narration was spot on for the tone of the book. The narrator is not the issue.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    no


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rick Bosacker Lino Lakes, MN USA 10-10-13
    Rick Bosacker Lino Lakes, MN USA 10-10-13
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    "Arrogantly offputting.... if he wasn't so smart."
    Where does Antifragile rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Unique perspective with real utility. Top quartile.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    Applying a scientific and intelligent rationale for traditionalism.


    What about Joe Ochman’s performance did you like?

    Read with believably conceited indignation which would have been off-putting were it not earned and justified.


    If you could give Antifragile a new subtitle, what would it be?

    "I spit in your general direction"


    Any additional comments?

    As a physician and leader, I'm drawn to innovative ideas that can guide our work and lives in a healthier and more fulfilling manner. Taleb's principles provide a compelling counter to our tendency to over-engineer and "fragilize" our lives and businesses. Resonant.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cletus van Damme Edmond, OK, United States 01-14-13
    Cletus van Damme Edmond, OK, United States 01-14-13 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Superb work of scholarship"

    I thought this would be a book about investing strategy. It is so much more. I will have to buy the hard copy and re-read it several times. There is a lot of meat to digest. Five-star work all the way. Taleb's comparison of the current state of academic research at publish-or-perish institutions with counterfeit watches is spot-on. I do not know of any practitioners in my field who bother to read any of the "leading journals" of academic research. Joe Ochman's narration is also outstanding. He does an excellent job coping with Taleb's broad vocabulary of unfamiliar English words smattered with foreign words like "flâneur." This book will expand your vocabulary if nothing else! I write mainly to voice my strong objection to the producer's decision to bleep Taleb's occasional use of expletives. Taleb is nothing if not a wordsmith and when he inserts an expletive it is for effect, either to show contempt for the idea he is debunking or to get the reader's attention. There is no excuse for the producer inserting a loud "bleep" over words like "bullsh*t." I listened to this book in the car and the bleeps are higher in volume that the surrounding speech. On several occasions, I thought someone was honking at me! The bleeps are unnecessary and disconcerting. May I suggest revising the recorded book to omit the bleeps? An excellent book that deserves a listen from every thoughtful person who is disturbed by current trends in academic research.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DS NH 01-14-13
    DS NH 01-14-13

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "vintage Taleb"

    I've read all his books and, like all the others, I feel lost for the first chapter and then... it starts to click and I understand what he's talking about. Really interesting smack down of economic icons and I couldn't agree more. "Skin in the game" doesn't guarantee good results but it does keep one honest. I highly recommend this book but, unfortunately the politicians who need to read this probably won't.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Guilherme Porto Alegre, Brazil 12-26-12
    Guilherme Porto Alegre, Brazil 12-26-12 Member Since 2011

    You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take. —Wayne Gretzky

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "All of Taleb's main ideas pieced toghter"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Ever since i read fooled by randomness, I've read and recommended all of Taleb's books. He is the master of anti bulls*h*i*t.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Antifragile?

    The most memorable moment of Taleb's books are as usual his conclusions and afterwords. It is like listening to the wise Grandfather I never had.

    When he explains his ideas on antifragility is also very interresting because the concept has been around all his previous books, but it is the first time he explains in a way I feel like I really get his point.


    Any additional comments?

    Taleb writes about what he wants to write about, he does not just say it as you listen his book you can feel he is not constrain about anything because he really say what is on his mind and curses very often

    A few times it's gets boring when he rumbles on and on about the same subject, but his message is so universal that this could even be a philosophy book though I'm sure the author woudn't agree to that.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Roden, Netherlands 12-21-12
    Amazon Customer Roden, Netherlands 12-21-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    "Somehow it's defective. Containing annoying beeps."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I like Taleb's books, that's because I like his story.

    But this time I don't get it. The story gets lost when a annoying beep makes me lose my train of thought.

    Is this recording defective?
    Or am I missing something here.

    I'll try to ask for my money back.


    Any additional comments?

    I always go for unabridged.
    Should I now also find out if the book was messed up by beepling idiots?

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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