Has anyone read The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb?

I would be interested in seeing feedback regarding the book.

cyhelm's picture
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I listened to the unabridged audio of the book. It changed the way I look at investing, and anything that claims to be based on statistics. There are some analogies to the "Layoff Immunization" podcasts: You never think it'll happen to you, until it does. If you're prepared for the unthinkable, you've got a better chance to survive, or even thrive, when the unthinkable happens. Taleb helps you get your mind around when the law of big numbers applies, and when it doesn't, and what constitutes a truly random event.

MsSunshine's picture

I'm about half way through the book and struggling to continue. The idea is very interesting to me. I've always wondered about some things in the financial area like the analyst at the end of the day saying that the market was down because of "X". (There is no way they can generalize why "everyone" sold/bought stock!) So, the concepts are really interesting.

BUT...I strongly dislike the writing style. In my opinion, he could say the same things in a much less verbose and easy to read manner. He spends a lot of time saying how he came to these thoughts, talking about other people who agreed with him, slamming people he disagrees with and other things I find a waste of time to read. (Kind of funny since one of the things he talks about is people doing things because others are doing them.) Then there are little digs at people that add nothing to my understanding of the topic.

I also find the writing style hard to read. The phrasing is awkward for me. I spend a lot of time going to the dictionary for meanings of words too. I'm okay with that in general. But I often find that he could have used a much more common word with the same meaning. So, I'm not sure what the point of the vocabulary is. I find myself now reading the first lines of a chapter and heads of sections and skipping the rest.

cwcollin's picture

about the Black Swan.  After a while it seemed that he was just making his point over and over increasing complexity.  I put it down.

tomdoepker's picture

I am not even halfway through the book and am completely hooked. The book is dense, but it is engrossing, thought-provoking and completely worth the effort. I would already not hesitate to strongly recommend it.