Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in the Markets and in Life

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9781587990717: Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in the Markets and in Life
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In Fooled by Randomness, Taleb takes the reader on a fascinating journey through our perceptions of success, failure and luck. He takes the mathematics and psychology of probability and explains them with reference to the financial markets and life in general. Concepts such as survivorship bias, induction and our genetic lack of fitness for the modern world are laid before the reader in a highly entertaining and accessible narrative that sweeps across the trading rooms of New York and Chicago, passing along the way Solon (the Ancient World's wisest man), the philosophy of Karl Popper and the pronouncements of Yogi Berra ("it ain't over 'till the fat lady sings") amongst others. At the end of the journey, the reader is left with a deep understanding of the role randomness plays in all our lives.

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Review:

If the prescriptions for getting rich that are outlined in books such as The Millionaire Next Door and Rich Dad Poor Dad are successful enough to make the books bestsellers, then one must ask, Why aren't there more millionaires? In Fooled by Randomness, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a professional trader and mathematics professor, examines what randomness means in business and in life and why human beings are so prone to mistake dumb luck for consummate skill. This eccentric and highly personal exploration of the nature of randomness meanders from the court of Croesus and trading rooms in New York and London to Russian roulette, Monte Carlo engines, and the philosophy of Karl Popper. Part of what makes this book so good is Taleb's ability to make seemingly arcane mathematical concepts (at least to this reviewer) entirely relevant in evaluating and understanding everything from the stock market to the success of those millionaires cited in the aforementioned bestsellers. Here's an articulate, wise, and humorous meditation on the nature of success and failure that anyone who wants a little more of the former would do well to consider. Highly recommended. --Harry C. Edwards

About the Author:

Nassim Nicholas Taleb is an essayist principally concerned with the problems of uncertainty and knowledge. Taleb┐s interests lie at the intersection of philosophy, mathematics, finance, literature, and cognitive science but he has stayed extremely close to the ground thanks to an uninterrupted two-decade career as a mathematical trader. Specializing in the risks of unpredicted rare events (┐black swans┐), he held senior trading positions in New York and London before founding Empirica LLC, a trading firm and risk research laboratory. Taleb is a fellow at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences of New York University where he has been teaching a class on the failure of models since 1999. His degrees include an MBA from the Wharton School and a Ph.D. from the University of Paris Dauphine. The author┐s ideas on skeptical empiricism have been covered by hundreds of articles around the world. Since childhood, Taleb has been obsessed with the defects of his own thinking. In addition to his scientific and literary interests, Taleb enjoys cafe lounging and museum hopping.

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