Speaking of uncertainty: read The Black Swan
July 5, 2007
Massim Nicholas Taleb’s new book is insightful and surprisingly entertaining. While it has no predictive value – black swans are by definition “unknown unknowns” – the book’s criticism of the traditional Gaussian models used by all of us strikes a chord.
Taleb’s take on human nature feels dead on. I also appreciated his analysis on the nature of innovation which he ascribes to tinkering more than to grand theorizing.
Despite the arguably serious nature of the book, the book is made highly enjoyable by Taleb’s angry rants against the practitioners of the social sciences, especially financial economists, and against Nobel Prize winners in general.
On a selfish note, I also found comfort in his recommendation not to read daily newspapers or listen to daily news as it provides no valuable information. I limit myself to weeklies like The Economist (though I know Taleb dispenses with those as well).