Saturday, January 2, 2010
The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
"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." What a wonderful, thought-provoking book this was. It was recommended as a read-alike for Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point, which I loved. I found Nassim Taleb's style more of an intellectual challenge than Gladwell's, but ultimately every bit as satisfying. Both writers are gifted with interdisciplinary genius, looking at the world with an openness that is coupled with astute analysis. Taleb writes: "understanding how to act under conditions of incomplete information is the highest and most urgent human pursuit." Thankfully, he offers practical suggestions for this quest.