The Black Swan was written by Nassim Nicholas Taleb- arguably one of the greatest philosophers of this era. Taleb was a former trader who now conducts academic research in probability theory. In this book, Taleb presents the phenomenon he calls a black swan, and how people should benefit from it.
A black swan is a highly improbable event which:
1. Is unpredictable
2. Has a massive impact
3. Retrospectively turns out to be less random and more predictable than we thought.
Taleb argues that much of the world is molded by black swans. Unfortunately, people are hardwired to understand specific events rather than generalized events and do not assume the improbable.
“The inability to predict outliers implies the inability to predict the course of history”
In fact, people learn facts and insist on believing they know more than they actually do, by restricting their thinking outside the box.
“The problem with experts is that they do not know what they do not know”
Taleb presents simple mechanisms of dealing with black swans and teaches the reader to follow and reward those who predict seemingly impossible events, rather than being disappointed when the stability of their surroundings is perturbed by a black swan. He explain the following:
“Missing a train is only painful if you run after it! Likewise, not matching the idea of success others expect from you is only painful if that’s what you are seeking.”
Part of Taleb’s Incerto series (which includes ‘Antifragile’ and ‘Fooled by Randomness’), ‘The Black Swan’ is a stunning revelation and an inspiring read, offering advice which has unlimited possibilities. Filled with witty and unusual stories, the book is highly recommended to all interested in human psychology and the way unexpected events run our world.