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  • Fooled by Randomness

  • The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets
  • Written by: Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  • Narrated by: Sean Pratt
  • Length: 10 hrs and 3 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (211 ratings)

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Fooled by Randomness

Written by: Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Narrated by: Sean Pratt
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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 listeners say about Fooled by Randomness

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9 hours of mindless blabbering

Absolute junk. Don't even bother wasting your time. Total of 3 sentences of useful information

4 people found this helpful

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  • Ses
  • 2021-12-25

not good enough

If to think about it. The whole book could be explained in 3 sentences. I would recommend buying a real school book about probably theory.
The whole thing could be explained to 9 y.o. child in 10 minutes, and he/she will able to understand it.

3 people found this helpful

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Harsh, brutal, but Brilliant and funny

If you have the patience to listen to his repetitive stories, showing off his knowledge and life styles, insults across many different reputable professions, and random personal feelings, this book will offer you something deep to think about and some funny bits to laugh out loud.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Insightful yet insufferable

Taleb's works require a distillation. He has insightful points to make. But most of what you get is him bad mouthing some other person or profession. I can't do that for hours on end. You could get the message in 1/10 the prose.

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Very vague

This book is all over the place. I didn't learn anything from this book. Lots of ideas but no real conclusion.

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Too much bla bla bla

This book is tremendously hard to listen. Neither it carries any knowledge of anything that can be applied in your life. I’ve been fooled by marketing buying this book.

1 person found this helpful

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Great book

I love the way Nassim Taleb thinks and the way he tells his stories. I will eventually read all his book.

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A book about the obvious ...

Good book. Interesting unpopular view points that i doubt many within the "matrix" would agree with even though the observations and conclusions are highly plausible.

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brilliant set of pseudorandom rambling

I disagree with some of the conclusions discussed and suspect that the author is pompous and annoying in person. But the book is great for stimulating thought around many topics and is very enjoyable. Actually listened to it twice!

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Crazy fun book

Not what I expected. Thoroughly enjoyable book that challenged my preconceptions about who wins in business.

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  • Wade T. Brooks
  • 2012-06-25

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.

43 people found this helpful

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  • Kazuhiko
  • 2013-02-10

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.

36 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2013-02-15

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.

29 people found this helpful

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  • Michael
  • 2009-04-09

Fooled by Random House

After nearly 2 hrs of listening I had to give up. There are endless teasers about "what's to come" but very little is ultimately delivered. What little there is comes capped by unbelievable shoddiness: "and I imagine that few of those people today are . . ." How about doing a little investigating and THEN writing a book? Random House published this "outline for a book" and fooled us all.

19 people found this helpful

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  • William
  • 2019-03-02

an author high on his own ego.

The narration is excellent but the book itself is poor. The author seems to think that his own original thoughts are superior to published research anywhere the argument is remotely possible. The only thing more annoying in reading such is the faux humility he attempts to dress it in while he argues that he should not be responsible for covering conventional literature, and simultaneously dismissing it

17 people found this helpful

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  • Igor
  • 2019-03-28

useless rant

general observation of life on level of teenager mindset. what was the point to state trivial baseless assumptions? pointless blablabla

16 people found this helpful

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  • Robyn
  • 2014-02-04

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.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Oldtimer
  • 2009-02-22

Disappointing! Get Black Swan Instead.

In this book, among other things, Taleb tries too hard to prove that he's personally made it, perhaps, as an evidence of his "hyper conservative" approach to investing. I'm sure he knows that had he started his carrier in early 1930s, he would be broke before he had the opportunity to write a book about hyper conservatism. His obsession with randomness to the point of elevating it to "the reason" for almost anyone's success is border line absurd. He argues that a group of incompetent investors (20% win, 80% loss) can produce a few winners by pure luck, but he seems to ignore the other side of the argument. A group of highly competent investors (80% win, 20% loss) will produce the same results over time. The end result can not be used to label everybody a lucky fool. A competent investor will be the victim of own success since everybody will imitate his strategy causing opportunists to diminish hence requiring ever greater risk taking to match previous earnings. This endless re-use of the same formula for success is what ultimately will do him in.

In another example, he sees Microsoft vs. Apple dominance in personal computers as another random luck. Perhaps he despises economists so much he's forgot to apply basic economics to the situation. Apple didn't succeed not because people didn't know how great it was, it didn't because it was too expensive and people, myself included, couldn't afford it.

If you see randomness everywhere you look, stop looking. Making fun of business people because they're too uptight is not too convincing when it comes from somebody who has the luxury of pondering philosophical points while sipping latte in a cafe near by a Swiss ski resort. He just needs to be thankful for how lucky he is, period.

14 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • PugFamily
  • 2008-02-03

The Author Thinks He Is Great!

The book has some good points and interesting thoughts but it is difficult to get by how much the author clearly thinks he is better then anyone else. This book is not worth the listen.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Hardik
  • 2018-04-02

Taleb Fooled by his Own Randomness

As someone who reads a lot of books on this and other subjects, I found this to be a waste of time and not deserving of the praise it received.

At first I thought I could appreciate its appeal to those not well versed in the rhetoric of randomness and the inherently faulty mechanisms of human decision making but not all the ideas expressed in the book are accurate and thoroughly vetted, resulting in a lot of misleading conclusions.

As an aside, I personally didn’t enjoy the forced bouts of arrogant condescension towards an unnecessary broad range of professionals. Taleb's Black Swan is a much better read and probabaly his best work (from what I've read)

If you want someone with true mastery to comprehensively guide you through better decision making, read Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow.

10 people found this helpful