The Black Swan

SnakPhilosophy and Theory

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The Black Swan

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maj 12, 2007, 4:20 pm

I'm interested in others' opinion of this book about what we think we know and don't know. Did you find it profoundly enlightening, fatally flawed, or somewhere between, and if so, why?

maj 12, 2007, 4:37 pm

a little more description about the book would help.

maj 12, 2007, 7:35 pm

I believe that danellender is referring to Nassim Taleb's The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. Therein he claims that almost all consequential events in history come from large-impact, hard-to-predict, and rare events. We then convince ourselves that these events are explainable in hindsight.

Basically, it is in the same vein as his Fooled by Randomess-- humans (including, and maybe especially, experts) are more ignorant than they know.

Redigeret: maj 12, 2007, 8:22 pm

Denne meddelelse er blevet slettet af dens forfatter.

maj 12, 2007, 8:21 pm

If the book under discussion is indeed Kaleb's, I submit that, amusing and thought provoking as it is, everything in it has been better addressed by other books. Taleb has a gift for self promotion and, apparently, money making, but he is not the lone maverick genius he plays in his books. The modeling assumptions he rails against (like normality) have long been criticized; the folly of experts is well known; and the role of randomness, uncertainty and risk in prediction and decision making have been more substantively addressed.

For problems of uncertainty and prediction in the markets, check out A random walk down Wall Street : including a life-cycle guide to personal investing by Malkiel and Fractals and Scaling in Finance by Mandelbrot. And for, respectively, an amusing and deep look at folly of the experts see Cerf and Navasky The Experts Speak and Tetlock’s Expert Political Judgment.

jun 27, 2007, 2:05 am

I thought the book was excellent. And I do believe that he covers territory that isn't covered by Malkiel. The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable is one of my best reads so far of the year.

Redigeret: jun 28, 2007, 7:31 pm


If you have the time, could you summarize Nassim Taleb's uniquely substantive points?

jun 28, 2007, 7:35 pm

It's actually been years since I've read Malkiel. But Malkiel's central thesis is that stock distribution will follow a Gaussian distribution. As such, while individual returns may not be predictable, There should be a rather close band that we can look to find a reasonable range for such things.

Nassim Taleb argues that such thinking will only pertain to things that follow physical limits, like height.

Again, it's been years since I've read Malkiel and I'm going to have to reread The Black Swan, as I read it right before I moved last, but I think that Nassim Taleb's central argument is that by definition, things such as distribution of height will fall under that category of known-unkowns, while the majority of our world is more easily explained by unknown-unknowns, which will, by definition, not be expectable.