Friday, March 29, 2013


The Black Swan was one of the most influential books on my thinking. I am not sure if this is because it was such a great book, or it just came at the perfect time in my life. I was in graduate school, about to drop the PhD program to take the masters degree, dating an economics PhD student so I was around a lot of economists and the economy was collapsing around me when I read it.

I had taken enough economics to realize that at my undergrad school there was no agreement at all on the subject. In the department I got a minor in every single professor seemed to disagree on everything. This wasn't like in Physics where most of the disagreement was in the new stuff. This was having neo-classical free market economists in the same program as Marxists.

Then, here comes Nassim Nicholas Taleb with the guts to say it is all bullshit, and the brains to totally deconstruct why.

Right after reading it, I decided that I agreed. Virtually all the reading I was doing was useless, and worse it was making my life worse. I needed to learn by actually doing things. So, soon after reading it I decided to stop talking to dead people.  This experiment that lasted at least a month or two, and totally altered how I lived my life for nearly two years. Unfortunately now I have completely degenerated to my previous state, but it still made for interesting times and I am not convinced that it is not a better way of living.

Somehow, despite my great respect for his previous book, I had a really difficult time purchasing his new book, Antifragile. I decided that I could not say no though and gave in and bought it.

My first impression was that his ego must have grown. Or maybe I just had completely forgotten his literary style over the years. He struck me as pompous to the point of being almost impossible to take seriously.

He then proceeded to make brilliant point after brilliant point.

Maybe I better stop talking to dead people again.

He made a pretty good case that I should actually do the opposite though. Only read what dead people wrote and ignore new books/newspapers.

No comments: