Review of the Black Swan by Taleb, Nassim Nicholas

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The Black Swan is a book about the importance of the unexpected. Taleb used the allegory of the Black Swan to explain how people often expect what is known and seem to forget that an unknown event can happen. The Black Swan metaphor was drawn from earlier beliefs that Black Swans don’t exist. Before the year 1697, no one has ever been reported to have seen a black swan. Consequently, people believed that all swans were white. However in 1697, a Black Swan was discovered which proved original beliefs wrong. This is the basis for Taleb’s argument. People make the mistake of believing that something will not happen because it has never happened, but when it eventually takes place it comes with disastrous consequences.
These events occur more often that we would like to think, and they generally have three attributes. They are outliers that are not within the realm of our general expectation and nothing we have witnessed has prepared us for it. Secondly, they come with great impact and thirdly, people usually come up with explanations for why they happen in hindsight. The book is a critic of society for always failing to expect the unexpected (Black Swan), and feigning surprise when one occurs. In his words, “History does not crawl. They make jumps. They go from fracture to fracture, with few vibrations in between. Yet we (and historians) like to believe in the predictable, small incremental progression.”
He used the Extremistan and Mediocristan province to explain our environment. According to him, an Extremistan environment is a Black Swan prone environment while Mediocristan is a “tame, quiet and uneventful province.”(p. 26) In the Mediocristan environment, the individual does not affect the aggregate while in the E...

... middle of paper ... use of analogies based on fictitious characters did not make him more convincing. Yevgenia Krasnova’s book that became a bestseller cannot be called a Black Swan because events like that are expected in the publishing industry. His rambling also made it impossible to buy into his barbell strategy of safe investment and high risk investment. If he believes experts are frauds then he is also a fraud because he claims to be an expert on making the best of the unexpected
The book offers an insight into the world that is not readily seen by people. It is an interesting read if one is able to organize the jumbled up ideas in the book that indicate an apparent lack of structure. The style of the book makes it almost impossible to understand by mere skimming. It requires dedicating time to go through it chapter by chapter to fully grasped what Taleb is saying. .

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