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Nassim Nicholas Taleb – The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

Posted by StepTb su settembre 9, 2016

Random House, 2007
401 pages

Nina’s review is spot-on.
I’m a big supporter of “contrarian thinking”, but I think Taleb is an intellectual hack, and the amount of credit he gets leaves me speechless.
Everything he does is:
1. Re-packaging and re-marketing well-known concepts (mainly from Complexity and Behavioral Finance) people started to introduce in the 1980s as something he himself discovered/defined, creating a personal jargon in an attempt to make them sound new (and as a rethorical trick to beat opponents in discussions, since that way he’s the one defining the playing field, instead of any actual discipline);
2. Re-packaging and re-marketing them as “paradigm shifters” that, as he “demonstrates”, easily “destroy” entire disciplines… that is, the same disciplines that actually *introduced* them, or that have already been discussing/analyzing/rejecting/absorbing them for years, if not decades;
3. In the process, insulting and mocking entire fields, completely rejecting the concept of intellectual humility – the most important trait a philosopher, scientist or thinker must have. I’ll repeat myself, but Apology is a book everyone should read, understand and apply to their lives – we’d avoid so many problems, including people falling for cult leaders and scammers (ironic, since Taleb enjoys citing Roman and Greek thinkers – probably just because, superficially, he sees them as an opposite to a contemporary world he doesn’t like);
4. Using a self-contradicting, aggressive, “prophetic” rethoric typical of cult leaders and scammers:
A. Nobody knows anything! [them]
B. …But I know everything! [us]
C. (so here’s the solution I’m selling you: myself and my books) [come join us]

Shameless.

If you find Taleb’s books brilliant and/or insightful, I recommend you Rational Choice in an Uncertain World and The Logic of Scientific Discovery (Taleb’s “turkey fable” and all his observations about historicism are stolen from Popper and Russell), for starters.

5/10

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