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Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder Paperback – 6 Jun 2013
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Really made me think about how I think (Mohsin Hamid Guardian)
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Wall Street's principal dissident (Malcolm Gladwell)
A guru for every would-be Damien Hirst, George Soros and aspirant despot (John Cornwell Sunday Times)
Nassim Taleb, in his exasperating but compelling book Antifragile, praises "things that gain from disorder" - people, policies and institutions designed to thrive on volatility, instead of shattering in the encounter with it (Oliver Burkman Guardian)
More than just robust or flexible, it actively thrives on disruption (Julian Baggini Guardian)
Modern life is akin to a chronic stress injury. And the way to combat it is to embrace randomness in all its forms. . . Taleb is the great seer of the modern age (Guardian)
Something antifragile actively thrives under the impact of the unexpected...to embrace randomness rather than trying to control it (The Sunday Times)
Enduring volatility is one thing; what about benefiting from it? That is what Taleb calls 'antifragility' and he thinks that it is the ultimate model to aspire to - for individuals, financial institutions, even nations. . . May well capture a quality that you have long aspired to without having quite known quite what it is. . . I saw the world afresh (The Times)
About the Author
Nassim Nicholas Taleb is an uncompromizing no-nonsense thinker for our times. He has spent his life immersing himself in problems of luck, uncertainty, probability, and knowledge, and he has led three high-profile careers around his ideas, as a man of letters, as a businessman-trader, and as a university professor and researcher. He is currently Distinguished Professor of Risk Engineering at New York University's School of Engineering. He is the author of the 4-volume INCERTO (Antifragile, The Black Swan, Fooled by Randomness, and The Bed of Procrustes). Taleb refuses all awards and honours as they debase knowledge by turning it into competitive sports.
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What is Anti fragile? Many things/institutions/individuals are fragile to volatility. Like a vase which is fragile and breaks if it falls. What is the opposite of fragile? Many think that the opposite of fragile is robust. (Things which are unaffected by volatility). But Taleb says things which gains from volatility is the opposite and he calls it Anti Fragile. We may be intellectually blind to it not organically blind. Example: Hormesis, favourable response to small dose of toxins.
Below are some interesting insights from the book.
In Book one:
Domain independence is domain dependence. Meaning one may be aware X is true in a specific domain and completely blind to the same X in a different domain.
Stress is information. Information is anti fragile. Therefore stress is anti fragile. It is said that best horses lose when they compete with slower ones. If you want something to be done give to the busiest or second busiest person in work.
Touristification of life: Eliminating randomness in life by trying too much to control life makes us fragile. You may find people who do well in academica to be boring. Hence erudition is anti fragile and academia is fragile.
In Book two:
Bottom up design is anti fragile because it has a lot of median variation. Top to bottom design is fragile because it has extreme variation. Therefore some form of volatility is good.
The Great Turkey problem: fooled by the properties of the past and getting the story backward. Turkey is fed everyday by the butcher; everyday it confirms its staff analyst that the butcher loves turkey. Then comes a day when it's not a good idea to be a turkey. Therefore ABSENCE OF EVIDENCES IS NOT EVIDENCE OF ABSENCE.
Modernity is the systematic extraction of humans from the randomness of life. Like a lion in bronx zoo.
Intervention causes iatrogenics. Go for intervention only when the benefits outweighs the cost. Therefore only for extreme scenarios.
In Book three:
Having a library is anti fragile.
Introduces Stoicism, Seneca the practical stoic and the domestification of emotions.
Barbell strategy is the domestic of uncertainty. Instead of going for mid risk options, use 80% conservative risk and 20% extreme risk. In the event of black swan, you will be protected from fragility.
In Book four:
Make use of optionality. Option= asymmetric + rationality.
Negatives of Soviet-Harvard types knowledge. Debunks some common misconceptions of Academia. Example wealth creates knowledge and not the other way around.
Book five is for those who are technically inclined.
In Book Six:
Less is more. Importance of Subtractive knowledge. You get rich by not going bust.
In Book Seven:
Being ethical makes you anti fragile.
Modernity provides talkers (Journalists and Economists)free option. Example Thomas Friedman openly advocate the war on Iraq (2003) .Despite all his predictions and advocacies were spectacularly wrong, he doesn't face any consequences of his action. The ancients were aware of the talker's free option and advocated skin in the game.
Hammurabi code written in 1750BC Mesopotamia advocates skin in the game.
You don't need to read the other two books to appreciate the message that Taleb is giving in this book. I highly recommend this book.
This book is also light on references. Again, in my opinion, many books depend/give too many references to their sources in fact in each line. That is one way good for accuracy, but it also take away the charm of the writer. In my opinion a good writer-in this case Taleb-should be confident enough to say what he wants to say without bothering the reader much about the accuracy of his statements. It should be the reviewer/critic/reader's worry to go look for any errors in the facts if they feel that way.
Taleb also come out as a philosopher, as usual, rather than a social scientist who quotes or refers to the various research studies in scientific literature. Taleb is that rare type of philosopher who comes very close to nailing the workings behind the modern age. For example, in the book he categorically mentions how much is today's world a complicated place as compared to its older times. I think this is one fact we all must come to grasps instead of clinging to the notion that we are masters of this world as we had been for the past few thousand years.
Thanks to Taleb to shout at the highest intensity of his voice.each cell of my body got this.love for the book
An interesting book with lot of practical insights , thought provoking and gripping .
Taleb kicks right under the belt of economist and physiologist .
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