The Black Swan

Further on the Cosmological Cabbage Book Club (CCBC) I am finally reading "The Black Swan" in its entirety". It is tough slogging and hard to read. This was because of a highly technical style of writing that is sometimes ornate. Not really ornate, but rather disruptive. While stressing a point over a whole chapterette, there are various segues and detours drawn from history and philosophy. The anecdotes are clever, however their connections to Taleb's points are rather abstruse.

The premise of the book is that human history and events are fraught with "Black Swans" or highly random unpredictable events which cannot be forecast. Examples include 9/11 and various stock market crashes -- indeed the entire human history.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb was a quant -- a person who works in finance using numerical or quantitative techniques. He really wants to be a philosopher, and couches his writing in philosophical terms such as "the Platonic fold" and epistomology and stuff.

I found myself simultaneously agreeing vigorously with him and getting mad at him. Perhaps it is akin to the atheist throwing off the whole frame of reference of a devout theist. Perhaps it is jealousy because it is the kind of book that I would have liked to write. I have about a tenth of the book left to read.

The single biggest point that I got out of the book so far, is that it is not a bad strategy to buy lottery tickets. Don't expect to win, but to put yourself in the game that you might win if the high improbable happens -- which it does every day according to Taleb.

Update: Instead of Black Swans, my contention that it is possible to have observant turkeys. If you are at all interested in this concept, click on the label "The Observant Turkey" or click HERE.

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