antifragile

Review From User :

Taleb seems constitutionally angry, dismissive, and contrarian--sometimes to the point of being an asshole. However, one cannot deny his talent of conveying crucially important concepts in a clear and entertaining fashion. I would rather have every one of my biases and heuristics kicked around so I will reconsider where they came from--and whether to keep them--than be coddled and comforted.

Perhaps the best heuristic reminders I received from this book: 1/ Invest (trust) in people, not plans. 2/ Favor broad diversification so as to reduce negative exposure to any given event. 3/ Look for optionality; rank things according to optionality, preferably with open-ended payoffs. 4/ Options that benefit from volatility, disruption, and entropy are the best--but keep your "skin in the game;" never transfer your fragility to someone else. 5/ Eschew intervention unless it is completely obvious that lack of intervention in a given critical case is much more dangerous. 6/ If you generate more than one* reason to do something, you're trying to convince yourself; this is a strong sign to wait or even reject the plan; that said, if you have a single excellent reason, go for it and don't be afraid of failure. 7/ You learn more from failure ("subtractive knowledge") than success anyway.

(* My personal threshold is three reasons.)

Favorite quote from this book: "The worst problem of modernity lies in the malignant transfer of fragility and antifragility from one party to the other, with one getting the benefits, the other (unwittingly) getting the harm, with such transfer facilitated by the growing wedge between the ethical and the legal."

My own aphorisms inspired by this book: 1/ To add is folly; to abstain, wise; subtract, divine. 2/ All models have at least one too many degrees of freedom, and all models have at least one wrong premise. Therefore, every model can be optimized to a single-variable function that doesn't work.


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