Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Quotes from the The Black Swan

I finished Nassim Nicholas Taleb's The Black Swan a month ago, and still can't (and do not want to) shake off its influence on my thinking. Here are some quotes from the book:

“What we call ‘talent’ generally comes from success, rather than the opposite.”

“Death is often a good career move for an author.”

“Complicated equations do not tend to happily cohabit with clarity of mind.”

“History is opaque. You see what comes out, not the script that produces events, the generator of history.”

“In the end we are being driven by history all the while thinking that we are doing the driving.”

“Uncertainty is our [Taleb’s] discipline, and that understanding how to act under conditions of incomplete information is the highest and most urgent human pursuit.”

“Perception of causation has a significant biological foundation.”

“We pull memories along causative lines revising them involuntarily and unconsciously.”

“The same condition [impulse] that makes us simplify pushes us to think the world is less random than it actually is.”

“Both the artistic and scientific enterprises are the product of our need to reduce dimensions and inflict some [illusory] order on things.”

“We tend to use knowledge as therapy.”

“Respect for elders in many societies might be a kind of compensation for our short term memory.”

“It is tough to deal with social consequences of the appearance of continuous failure.”

“It is my great hope one day to see science and decision makers rediscover what the ancients have always known, namely that our highest currency is respect.”

“A life saved is a statistic; a person hurt is an anecdote. Statistics are invisible; anecdotes are salient.”

“Gambling is sterilized and domesticated uncertainty.”

“Probability is a liberal art…” [one of the best quotes in the book!]

“One needs to exit doubt to produce science…” [a jab at science, especially scientific theories that dumb down skepticism]

“For many people knowledge has the remarkable power of producing confidence rather than measurable aptitude.”

“That strange activity called the business meeting, in which well fed but sedentary men involuntarily restrict their blood circulation with an expensive device called the necktie.”

“If you hear a prominent economist use the word equilibrium or normal distribution put a rat down his shirt.”

“Capitalism is, among other things, the revitalization of the world, thanks to the opportunity [for some people] to be lucky.”

“We tend to be against religious theories but not economic theories.”

“Luck is far more egalitarian than even intelligence.”

1 comment:

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