Book Review

The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb- A book Description

In the book “The Black Swan,” the author explains the impact of the highly improbable events, namely- The Black Swans- in everyday life. Through numerous accounts and events of the past and several theories and explanations, the reader is acquainted with the black swans in the past and recent histories. The book contains a set of terminologies that the author has put up to make the reader better understand his explanations and conclusions. Though there are chances of the reader getting lost in slightly complicated explanations and theories, most of them call for pausing and having a more profound thought and relate them to the happenings around us.

There are enough evidence and explanations to prove why the future cannot be predicted by taking the information from history and how many of the predictions proved wrong. Many events that are presumed to be insignificant and ignored play an essential role. Those so-called insignificant events are getting ignored even today by the experts, leading to faulty predictions and assumptions.

Though there are many theories explained with relevant evidence and citations, the few that might be pretty interesting are given below.

  • What are Black Swans, and what is their relevance in our daily lives?
  • The faulty belief that the world we live in is more understandable, more explainable, and therefore more predictable than it is.
  • Our minds are wonderful explanation machines, capable of making sense out of almost anything, capable of mounting explanations of all manner of phenomena, and generally incapable of accepting the idea of unpredictability.
  • Do people really fall in love with the works of art, or are they doing it for something else when they appreciate creations in the field?
  • When the sample is large, no single instance will significantly change the aggregate or the total. The largest observation will remain impressive, but eventually insignificant, to the sum.
  • How can we go from specific instances to reach general conclusions? How do we know what we know? How do we know that what we have observed from given objects and events suffices to enable us to figure out their other properties?
  • How can we know the future, given the knowledge of the past; or more generally, how can we figure out properties of the unknown based on the known?
  • We react to a piece of information not on its logical merit but based on which framework surrounds it, and how it registers with our socio-emotional system.
  • Seeing white swans does not confirm the non-existence of black swans.
  • Our propensity to impose meaning and concepts blocks our awareness of the details making up the concept.
  • We will tend to more easily remember those facts from our past that fit a narrative, while we tend to neglect others that do not appear to play a causal role in the narrative.
  • We learn from repetition – at the expense of events that have not happened before. Nonrepeatable events are ignored before their occurrence and overestimated after.
  • Things that move are often black swan–prone.
  • The major problem with the experts is that they do not know what they do not know.
  • Our problem is not just we do not know the future; we do not know much of the past either.

The above are just a very few points of discussion that will relate to the incidents in our neighborhood.  However, the book is an immense vault of many theories which we believed and about which we will not have the same perception after reading it. A word of caution- do not expect to have a smooth reading till the end. There are speed breakers and be prepared for them. Overall a good read which will put us in a different mode of thinking.

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32 thoughts on “The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb- A book Description

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