Monday, April 20, 2015

Impossible Conversations: The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb

Nick Charney
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Honestly, don’t bother reading the book; Kent’s description below is about all you need to know about the theory and George's review was probably way too polite. 

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There are a few interesting nuggets throughout this book, but here’s the major point: let’s imagine a series of events over time, as in the chart below. This could represent hurricanes, financial crises, wars, anything (though it’s more important for things for which the impact scales exponentially, not linearly). The large spike on the right represents an extreme event. If you’re trying to understand the nature of these events from time X0 (the red line), your model will be based on the relatively stable period before, and you’ll be unprepared for the impact of the event that follows. It’s only at time X1 that we’d understand the flaws in our models, but we can never know if and when we’ve reached that point, when dealing with improbable, high-impact events.

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While Taleb has some interesting nuggets as mentioned by Kent, the book is exceptionally long and tediously slogs through irrelevant personal anecdotes and the occasional made-up historical figure to get to those nuggets. It’s tough to like a book so very filled with the author’s arrogance and disdain for his readers.

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