The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

The Black Swan

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, Second Edition
By Nassim Nicholas Taleb

There are events in life, whether positive or negative, that emerge out of improbability and have massive, irreversible effects on the continuum of human history. These events are known as black swans;  while the events cannot be predicted, their causation and effects can be studied in an attempt to gain better knowledge of world happenings as a whole.

Author Nassim Nicholas Taleb is a former quantitative trader who became a philosophical essayist and academic researcher, he is currently a professor of Risk Engineering at New York University’s Polytechnic Institute. He looks to shape the known through musings on the unknown in The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable.

  • Chapter 1 introduces the concept of a black swan, its anatomy and impact, as well as the importance of it in the marketplace and the world as a whole. This chapter also serves as Nassim’s thesis statement on his theory of opacity, which aims to give readers tools for living in an unpredictable world.
  • Chapter 2 contains an allegory on a writer whom is unsuccessful in the publishing world, only to become successful in the world of web publishing; inadvertently causing a shift in the publication market.
  • Chapters 3-6 discuss the problems with validation in the modern world and how to avoid being victimized by black swan events as they occur. The chapters offer advice on the nature of globalization and improbability on a world wide scale, negative empiricism, and the fallacy of infinite precision.
  • Chapters 7-9 voices improbability from a philosophical standpoint and offers insight onto the nature of human kind to affect it even further. The chapters work to illustrate the gamble inherent in the market and all walks of life, giving the reader a look at how to play the game with the right dice.
  • Chapter 10 focuses on the Scandal of Prediction, which implies that there is a fallacy which is unavoidable in all prediction of future events. The author stresses that information can not be gathered about that which is unknown, inferences must instead be made from collected data.
  • Chapters 11-13 posses information pertaining to operation without knowledge of the improbable. Nassim highlights improbability as solutions that are in fact waiting for problems.. The section ends with valuable advice on how to proceed when one cannot predict, and how to prepare yourself for the inevitability which may follow.
  • Chapters 14-17 decry the nature of probability training and outcomes as a perceived exact science. The author delves into the chaos which may be inserted into many situations thought to be constants, defying outcomes. Nassim presents situations, in both anecdotes and theoretical musings which will enlighten the reader.
  • Chapters 18-19 wrap up the book and offer valuable information on avoiding analytic research which may be inefficient, as well as tips on how you can gain the upper hand over the black swan.

Reviews on the book have been highly positive, with readers finding the book to be an enlightening look at the improbable events which alter our world entirely. Don’t fear the unknown, learn from it -pick up  The Black Swan, today.

Reviewed by: William Oscar Updyke

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