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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This is a book about luck. More specifically, it is a book about how we perceive luck, twist it around and regard it as intention or purpose. What better setting than the world of trading to invesdtigate the subject? How often has the brilliant trader, who seems to the outside world to have been granted the gift of second sight in the implementation of his strategies, been suddenly wiped out by an unexpected shift in the markets? The book may have its roots firmly in the financial arena, but it also incorporates and explains the effects and repercussions of randomness in many varied fields - ranging from philosophy to literature and science - to create an insight into how randomness cannot be conquered, but can be embraced.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
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