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Fooled by Randomness Audiobook

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

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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

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (2250 )
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4.3 (1526 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Amazon Customer United States 02-15-13
    Amazon Customer United States 02-15-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An Excellent and Worthwhile Book"

    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.

    13 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kazuhiko TUXEDO PARK, NY, United States 02-10-13
    Kazuhiko TUXEDO PARK, NY, United States 02-10-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fun to listen to"

    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.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wade T. Brooks Portland, OR, USA 06-25-12
    Wade T. Brooks Portland, OR, USA 06-25-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Pass on this one and read The Black Swan"

    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.

    17 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jack USA 02-04-14
    Jack USA 02-04-14 Member Since 2015

    End of the world and Sci Fi are my favorites with a lot of historical fiction added in

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Commentary too random and disjointed"
    What disappointed you about Fooled by Randomness?

    The theme was both disorganized and too narrowly focused on financial traders? It lacked specific real world cases and examples.


    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    andrew Bountiful, UT, United States 08-22-12
    andrew Bountiful, UT, United States 08-22-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Better Taleb?"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. Douglas Williams Fort Collins, CO United States 02-20-13
    D. Douglas Williams Fort Collins, CO United States 02-20-13 Member Since 2002

    speeddcpa

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Worth the effort"
    What made the experience of listening to Fooled by Randomness the most enjoyable?

    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.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Nero Tulip


    Have you listened to any of Sean Pratt’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Sean Pratt was not the narrator of my audio book. It was narrated by Lloyd James. I thought the narrator did a good job.


    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Fabrizio 05-17-15
    Fabrizio 05-17-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Really pointless. Flaws in the audio too. "

    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.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Saul Reiss 02-15-15
    Saul Reiss 02-15-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Should Have Been A Short Story"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    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.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Signal and Noise


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ken Premo Los Angeles 03-26-14
    Ken Premo Los Angeles 03-26-14 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. Blake 05-28-12
    M. Blake 05-28-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "very entertaining and eye opening"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    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.


    If you could give Fooled by Randomness a new subtitle, what would it be?

    Things you might not realize were randomness and how you deal with it in your life.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Ben Stubbens
    2/21/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Self righteous rambling"

    While the book may read well this unfortunately doesn't translate into a good audiobook. It comes across as very self righteous as he sneers at the mere mortals who don't appreciate randomness. Furthermore this book lacks any kind of structure and seems to be a collection of thoughts as they've come into the author's head. I was very disappointed

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Preston Pickles
    London, United Kingdom
    9/11/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Insightful and interesting"

    Many reviewers dock the author points for the arrogant and sometimes contemptuous tone of the writing.
    While these elements are certainly present -exacerbated by the narrator- I feel the author is entitled to present his ideas in whatever style he sees fit and it is moreover an interesting insight into the mind of the man as well as the well presented ideas on the role of randomness in life.
    One of the key messages of this book is that we are not designed to understand randomness because the environment in which we encounter it in the modern world is far removed from our evolutionary roots. This idea when explored, along with other very interesting subject matter is certainly very enlightening.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    9/3/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "First impression IS deceiving (re: bad reviews)"

    The early stages give an impression that the author just wants to laud his intellectual superiority over his 'peers'.
    Don't be put off this is actually just a very reflective, fun and self aware style. This becomes evident quickly.

    The topics covered are illuminating and useful! Practically speaking anyone could use this book to become more competent, either professionally or otherwise.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • SO
    8/31/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "entertaining"

    Entertaining and great read/listen, even if a little impenetrable at times. Well done to the author and the reader.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Andrew Shannon
    Milwaukee, WI, USA
    6/24/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Interesting quick listen"

    Not a huge amount of takeaways, but interesting story and thoughts on how humans compute chance.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • lauren
    12/19/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "for traders, academics and intellectuals."

    my trading has dramatically improved from reading this book, if you want to succeed in trading this book will help..

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Marek
    9/29/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "This book really can shake your view !"

    It will shake your view of the world and make you more aware to randomness! Once you know you can have more comfortable life!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Alan Watt
    1/2/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Traders must adapt to changes in the market "

    Currently half way through chapter 7 of 8. The author goes on and on telling you trading success is largely down to luck by doing the right thing at the right time, until the market changes causing the trader to eventually blow. I think he could have explained this entire book in one chapter.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • J. K. Moon
    UK
    2/28/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very good"

    Met expectations
    Will listen again
    Essential listening for any human being. It's a shame I'll go back to my old behaviour

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ant
    St Albans, United Kingdom
    7/30/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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