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The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms | [Nassim Nicholas Taleb]

The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms

By the author of the modern classic The Black Swan, this collection of aphorisms and meditations expresses his major ideas in ways you least expect. The Bed of Procrustes takes its title from Greek mythology: the story of a man who made his visitors fit his bed to perfection by either stretching them or cutting their limbs. It represents Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s view of modern civilization’s hubristic side effects.
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Publisher's Summary

By the author of the modern classic The Black Swan, this collection of aphorisms and meditations expresses his major ideas in ways you least expect.

The Bed of Procrustes takes its title from Greek mythology: the story of a man who made his visitors fit his bed to perfection by either stretching them or cutting their limbs. It represents Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s view of modern civilization’s hubristic side effects - modifying humans to satisfy technology, blaming reality for not fitting economic models, inventing diseases to sell drugs, defining intelligence as what can be tested in a classroom, and convincing people that employment is not slavery.

Playful and irreverent, these aphorisms will surprise you by exposing self-delusions you have been living with but never recognized. With a rare combination of pointed wit and potent wisdom, Taleb plows through human illusions, contrasting the classical values of courage, elegance, and erudition against the modern diseases of nerdiness, philistinism, and phoniness.

©2010 Nassim Nicholas Taleb (P)2010 Gildan Media Corp

What the Critics Say

“[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.” (GQ)

"Idiosyncratically brilliant.” (Los Angeles Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (111 )
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3.8 (78 )
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4.1 (78 )
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  •  
    Chris Etna, CA, United States 07-30-12
    Chris Etna, CA, United States 07-30-12 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Buy the BOOK"

    While this a good listen and full of little wisdoms, you'll want the hard bound book near your desk as a reference piece. I can see using many of these aphorisms as quotes in presentations. Lots of great stuff hear but better in book form.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Reich Northern, CA 07-30-12
    Chris Reich Northern, CA 07-30-12 Member Since 2005

    Business Physicist and Astronomer

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Buy the BOOK"

    While this a good listen and full of little wisdoms, you'll want the hard bound book near your desk as a reference piece. I can see using many of these aphorisms as quotes in presentations. Lots of great stuff hear but better in book form.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A Summerville, SC, United States 08-25-11
    A Summerville, SC, United States 08-25-11 Member Since 2009
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    "Read this one"

    Awesome book with thought provoking insights. Well read with clear audio. I enjoyed listening to this book but then went out and bought a hard copy. Each aphorism is captivating in its own way. Each sentence is its own story. To plow through them in a non-stop narrative means that a lot will be missed. To truly benefit from this work, you need to read it slowly. The optimal way to absorb this book would be to have a hard copy at the bedside and read just a few aphorisms each night.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Al San Francisco, CA 05-07-11
    Al San Francisco, CA 05-07-11 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent"

    This book has some words of wisdom that will make you think and perhaps make you a little bit wiser as well. We try to make complex situations fit in some of our pre concieved notions and in our arrogance and lack of humility leads use to chaotic results.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    T. Combs 10-24-12
    T. Combs 10-24-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Big Taleb fan? You'll like it. Otherwise, pass."
    Where does The Bed of Procrustes rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Somewhere in the middle. It's a short listen, so I don't feel like I wasted my time or money, but I have to admit that it's my least favorite of his three books. *That said, I loved his other two books, and only like this one. So saying it's my least favorite isn't a harsh indictment of it.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    The entire book is aphorisms. Just short, little, sentences about observations Taleb has made. Some are really insightful, some are pretty stupid.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Really insightful:
    "For the robust, an error is information; for the fragile, an error is an error."

    Pretty stupid:
    "Never say 'no' twice."


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes.


    Any additional comments?

    Check out the preview. If you like it, there's lots more just like it. If you don't, then save your credit. I think this book will divide between "like it a lot" and "wow that's dumb." I am in the first camp; my wife in the latter.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Guilherme 07-01-12
    Guilherme 07-01-12 Member Since 2011

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

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Taleb is a polarizer. I'll will love or hate him."

    I can understand why some people just don't get what Taleb is talking about.

    He is most known for preaching about the dangers if black swans. But in opposition to modern writings about risk management or economy, he doesn't offer any complex mathematical models (he doesn't offer any equations by the way), and he does not present the reader with a quick guide about how NOT the get in a big mess you will regret.

    Taleb on the other hand takes a very philosophical posture, advising the reader to think about the problem how it really is, and not how we wish it to be (platonicity). And I'm sure many people find disturbing that they won't find straight answers in his books.

    stick it to the Man: He is one of the few authors I've read that defies the system and authorities openly says what he thinks are wrong with the whole, in a healthy way. If that is even possible. As himself puts in The Black Swan, When someone asks him does he manage to cross a street being so much risk adverse,he replies that everyone must cross dangerous streets sometimes, but at least he won't do it BLINDFOLDED.

    After re-reading my review I realize that my review is not just about this book but all his books as a whole. I recommend reading them all, the Bed of Proscrutes being a good summary of his ideas of the Black Swan and Fooled by Randomness

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Samuel United States 06-26-12
    Samuel United States 06-26-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Good aphorisms but nothing BUT aphorisms"
    Any additional comments?

    This book has no story to it at ALL. It's rather a collection of different 1-2 sentence assertions (aphorisms). It was lots of fun to read, but lacks any sort of storyline.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carey LAKE MARY, FL, United States 05-15-12
    Carey LAKE MARY, FL, United States 05-15-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Another Great work by Taleb"
    Would you listen to The Bed of Procrustes again? Why?

    i would listen to it again and again to gain a better insight into my own life and the lifes of the people around me


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Bed of Procrustes?

    the idea that we are changing our children to fit the educational system instead of changing the educational system to fit our children!!!


    Which character – as performed by Sean Pratt – was your favorite?

    Procrustes!! violent murderer!


    What did you learn from The Bed of Procrustes that you would use in your daily life?

    to be a epidemiologist! a skeptic!


    Any additional comments?

    thanks Taleb... you have made me a better options trader, friend, and element of society!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Working Poor 01-05-11

    JD

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Nassim Nicholas Taleb"

    Nassim Nicholas Taleb, I love this guys no BS outlook on life, and admire the Genius. My only complaint is that it was not narrated by Mr. Taleb. It's not the Black Swan, but almost equally entertaining, if he had read it.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Summer Who 10-08-14
    Summer Who 10-08-14
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    "On Repeat"
    If you could sum up The Bed of Procrustes in three words, what would they be?

    Insightful. Entertaining. Thought provoking.


    Any additional comments?

    I replay the entire book fairly often, such as while performing other tasks. Each time I enjoy it just as much as the previous listen, if not more so. There is rarely a book that I can do this with.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • judith
    canary wharf, United Kingdom
    10/31/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fooled by poetry and neat rhetoric"

    I don't think anybody (pace Oscar Wilde) can write one and a half hours of aphorisms and expect to stay witty, likeable and credible. Mr Taleb ends up sounding rather up-his-own-bum, and, sometimes, just silly. He really doesn't like employment contracts (AKA wage slavery) or people who criticise his writing, and he is overly fond of sounding arty and noble and intellectual. Some of it is funny, and some of it is clever, but most of it just reveals to the reader (sorry, listener) the personality (and personality flaws) of the author. I loved Fooled by Randomness and Black Swan, which is why I tried this book, and I would recommend reading (or re-reading) those rather than trying this.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Miriam
    Brighton, United Kingdom
    3/18/12
    Overall
    "Fun!"

    Definitely a fun book. Easy on the ear and can actually provide some good talking points to develop with teenage grandsons. I know 'cause I have ;)
    My grandson, aged 14, and I spent at least 3 hours on the road every Sunday. This has been a wonderful way of introducing some interesting debates as opposed to what happened previously where either he or I grind our teeth at frustration on the others' choice of music.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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