Currently Analytically Reading: Antifragile By Nassim Nicholas Taleb

This is most likely the third time I have read this book and there is so much to glean from it that I will most likely read it a fourth time in the future. This time I am reading it for more insight in looking at problems that are presented to me and their solutions (if there is one).

I am learning that I must sharpen my questions if I am going to come to a better understanding of what I am facing and what the world around me is facing. Readers, are you sharpening your questions and becoming your own best teacher.

I have currently started teaching tennis again to juniors from the ages of eight to eighteen. My job is to teach them to be their own best teacher. When you are out on the court alone, you must be able to come up with a strategy and solutions to offset your opponent. This hopefully will carry over for them into life’s everyday problems that we all face.

I highly (once again) recommend this book and I am including a video from the author concerning his thoughts:

Some Thoughts On Black Swans From Nassim Nicholas Taleb

“The writer Umberto Eco belongs to that small class of scholars who are encyclopedic, insightful, and nondull. He is the owner of a large personal library (containing thirty thousand books), and separates visitors into two categories: those who react with “Wow! Signore, professore dottore Eco, what a library you have ! How many of these books have you read?” and the others – a very small minority – who get the point that a private library is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you don’t know as your financial means, mortgage rates and the currently tight real-estate market allows you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menancingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary.”

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

“When you develop your opinions on the basis of weak evidence, you will have difficulty interpreting subsequent information that contradicts these opinions, even if this new information is obviously more accurate.”

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

“The problem with experts is that they do not know what they do not know.”

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

“The Black Swan asymmetry allows you to be confident about what is wrong, not about what you believe is right.”

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

“I know that history is going to be dominated by an improbable event, I just don’t know what that event will be.”

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

More Books Of Interest September 20, 2013

English: Timbuktu seen from a distance by Hein...

English: Timbuktu seen from a distance by Heinrich Barth’s party, September 7, 1853 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick In The Pursuit of Health     Gilbert H. Welch, Lisa M. Schwartz and Steven Woloshin

Argues that more treatment and more diagnosis are not always better. I have not read this yet but it was in the bibilography of Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

Bad Medicine: Doctor’s Doing Harm Since Hippocrates     David Wooton

David Wooton argues that since the 5th century B.C. until the 1930’s that doctor’s have actually harmed more patients than they have helped. The above is from the book description from This book looks especially interesting!!!

A Labyrinth Of Kingdoms:10,000 Miles Through Islamic Africa     Steve Kemper

A true story detailing a 5 and one half year and over 10,000 mile journey in 1849 by Heinrich Barth, a German explorer. All his companions died but he made it alone to the city of Timbuktu. This book looks absolutely fascinating.

Finished Up Antifragile By Nassim Nicholas Taleb

English: This is a photograph from the assortm...

English: This is a photograph from the assortment of freely available pictures at Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s web site. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I finished up analytically reading Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb and I get the sense that I understand his philosophy of volatility and fragility much better. I would be lying if I said that I have a complete understanding of antifragility but what it has done in this reading is make me look around in my corner of the world and look for examples of fragility that are affecting my life. I happily recommend this book on that basis. I have set aside this book for now with the intentions of picking it up again within the next year and hopefully getting an even better understanding. I am determining whether I need to go back and read The Black Swan and Fooled by Randomness based on whether that will help my understanding of these principles. I do feel these principles are very important in understanding our modern world.

I found this quote from page 349 to be quite thought-provoking and I wanted to share it with you:

“Let me phrase the last point a bit differently. If there is something in nature you don’t understand, odds are it makes sense in a deeper way that is beyond your understanding… what Mother Nature does is rigorous until proven otherwise; what humans and science do is flawed until proven otherwise.”

Once again, you are missing a reading experience by not picking up this book and devoting the necessary time in understanding these principles. Make the commitment!!!

Another Quote From Antifragile About The Future

On page 320:

The future is in the past. Actually there is an Arabic proverb to that effect: he who does not have a past has no future.”

Nassim Nicolas Taleb

The Future From Antifragile By Nassim Nicholas Taleb


Innovation (Photo credit: Seth1492)

This is from Chapter 20 from the book Antifragile and comes from Page 314-315 and talks about the future. This quote gave me a entirely different view on how to approach the future and innovation in general. I can’t tell you how many hours I have spent reading about the next great thing or some marvelous innovation that will take over a certain industry. Think about this quote and how it affects you as you deal with innovation in the future.

“To understand the future, you do not need technoautistic jargon, obsession with “killer apps,” these sort of things. You just need the following: some respect for the past, some curiosity about the historical record, a hunger for the wisdom of the elders, and a grasp of the notion of “heuristics”, these often unwritten rules of thumb that are so determining of survival. In other words, you will be forced to give weight to things that have been around, things that have survived.”

This approach is a 180 degree approach to the way I have been viewing the future. I am certainly glad I ran across this.

Subtractive Knowledge From Antifragile

Black swan Nederlands: Zwarte zwaan Français :...

Black swan Nederlands: Zwarte zwaan Français : Cygne noir (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to Taleb the definition of subtractive knowledge is that you know what is wrong more than you know anything else. On page 303 Taleb states this:

“So the central tenet of the epistemology (a branch of philosophy that investigates the origin, nature, methods, and limits of human knowledge)  I advocate is as follows: we know a lot more what is wrong than what is right, or, phrased according to the fragile/robust classification, negative knowledge (what is wrong, what does not work) is more robust to error than positive knowledge (what is right, what works). So knowledge grows by subtraction much more than addition—given that what we know today might turn out to be wrong but what we know to be wrong cannot turn out to be right, at least not easily. If I spot a black swan (not capitalized), I can be quite certain that the statement “all swans are white” is wrong. But even if I have never seen a black swan, I can never hold such a statement to be true. Rephrasing it again: since one small observation can disprove a statement, while millions can hardly confirm it, disconfirmation is more rigorous than confirmation.