The Black Swan


Nassim Taleb's The Black Swan is the kind of non-fiction that I can't put down: an arrogant, self-important, and unapologetic attempt to show people that the world is not as it seems. But, there is more to it than the much quoted indictments of probability professionals and the predictions about Fannie Mae and the simultaneous failures of interconnected banking interests. Taleb gives us a book that combines a trader's experience with an academic's rigor, leaving us with something not quite math, not quite philosophy, and definitely not common sense, but certainly worth more than all three.

The central premise of Taleb's book is that the world does not move along a slow, predictable continuum. Rather, it moves along a slow continuum of events until seemingly random, unpredictable events come along to make massive changes, upheavals that alter lives, but, for some reason, not perceptions. He calls these events "Black Swans."

Taleb systematically dismantles the silent epistemology of every day life, questions the ways that we choose to spend our time and money, exposes all prediction professionals as frauds, and shows a new way of looking at the world that is both repulsive to our instincts and an accurate description of our world.

Highly recommended reading from the author of Fooled By Randomness.