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The Black Swan, Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable: With a new section: "On Robustness and Fragility"

Incerto, Book 2
Written by: Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Narrated by: Joe Ochman
Length: 15 hrs and 48 mins
5 out of 5 stars (7 ratings)
Price: CDN$ 43.86
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Publisher's Summary

The Black Swan is a stand-alone book in Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s landmark Incerto series, an investigation of opacity, luck, uncertainty, probability, human error, risk, and decision-making in a world we don’t understand. The other books in the series are Fooled by Randomness, Antifragile, Skin in the Game, and The Bed of Procrustes.

A black swan is a highly improbable event with three principal characteristics: It is unpredictable; it carries a massive impact; and, after the fact, we concoct an explanation that makes it appear less random, and more predictable, than it was. The astonishing success of Google was a black swan; so was 9/11. For Nassim Nicholas Taleb, black swans underlie almost everything about our world, from the rise of religions to events in our own personal lives.

Why do we not acknowledge the phenomenon of black swans until after they occur? Part of the answer, according to Taleb, is that humans are hardwired to learn specifics when they should be focused on generalities. We concentrate on things we already know and time and time again fail to take into consideration what we don’t know. We are, therefore, unable to truly estimate opportunities, too vulnerable to the impulse to simplify, narrate, and categorize, and not open enough to rewarding those who can imagine the “impossible”.

For years, Taleb has studied how we fool ourselves into thinking we know more than we actually do. We restrict our thinking to the irrelevant and inconsequential, while large events continue to surprise us and shape our world. In this revelatory book, Taleb explains everything we know about what we don’t know, and this second edition features a new philosophical and empirical essay, “On Robustness and Fragility”, which offers tools to navigate and exploit a Black Swan world.

Elegant, startling, and universal in its applications, The Black Swan will change the way you look at the world. Taleb is a vastly entertaining writer, with wit, irreverence, and unusual stories to tell. He has a polymathic command of subjects ranging from cognitive science to business to probability theory. The Black Swan is a landmark book - itself a black swan.

Includes a bonus pdf of tables and figures.

Praise for Nassim Nicholas Taleb

“The most prophetic voice of all.” (GQ)

Praise for The Black Swan:

“[A book] that altered modern thinking.” (The Times, London)

“A masterpiece.” (Chris Anderson, Editor-in-chief of Wired, author of The Long Tail)

“Hugely enjoyable - compelling...easy to dip into.” (Financial Times)

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2010 Nassim Nicholas Taleb (P)2018 Random House Audio

What the critics say

“Engaging.... The Black Swan has appealing cheek and admirable ambition.” (The New York Times Book Review)

“[Taleb writes] in a style that owes as much to Stephen Colbert as it does to Michel de Montaigne.... We eagerly romp with him through the follies of confirmation bias [and] narrative fallacy.” (The Wall Street Journal

The Black Swan changed my view of how the world works.” (Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Laureate)

  “Idiosyncratically brilliant.” (Niall Ferguson, Los Angeles Times

What members say

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    4 out of 5 stars

Worthy of a reread

this was an excellent book, and a much-needed corrective 2 our overconfidence in our own knowledge. the exposition was exceptionally clear and his polemical Style was extremely entertaining.

parts of tellabs social critique we're weaker or misguided, but his Central thesis was highly persuasive. I especially appreciated the essay and Technical discussion at the end of the book. this essay was added to the second edition and was not present in the original text.

this book stands out as one of the few texts worthy of a reread. this is not because the ideas presented were especially difficult, but rather because the illusion of knowledge is particularly difficult to dispel.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Brandon K. Kirkham
  • 2019-03-07

Anti-Statistics

The book poses a real challenge to the current paradigm of risk assessment and consequence prediction. The main idea is that most progress and catastrophes occur in unexpected leaps rather than small incremental changes. I’m still trying to figure out how this is useful to me beyond the awareness of this principle. I’ll get there...

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Jared M. Short
  • 2019-04-10

so cool!

I'm not a technical consumer but it was a fascinating read. I think I understood 50%.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Cameron Dziurgot
  • 2019-03-25

Could not finish.

Listen to books on drive in and home from work. The tone and attitude of this book is condescending and negative. Author seems like someone who walks around thinking about how much better he is than the strangers around him. Got through about 10% and couldn't make it any further.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Leland Meyer
  • 2019-03-18

Listen to it

Listen to this. Download the PDF and Listen to it. I repeat listen to it.