Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Fooled by Randomness by N. N. Taleb

  1. Jan 6, 2010 #1
    "Fooled by Randomness" by N. N. Taleb

    Hi everyone.

    I wanted to know what PFers think about https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1...pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=470938631&pf_rd_i=507846". Most of the reviews of the book are by business people (traders, investors, economists etc. -- I don't know the proper collective term), not just on amazon.com, but all the reviews I've seen of the book. I wanted to know what science people thought of the book.

    I've read the book twice; first several years ago, and I just finished my second reading today. I am substantially less impressed than I was after my first reading. I will briefly give what I think of the book, if anyone cares. I'd like to hear what everyone else has to say about it.

    I need to say firstly that I do not like Taleb's writing style. He does not explain ideas well. He prefers to name-drop and use a lot of jargon rather than explaining.
    It's a little bit of everything, he really just scratches the surface of the topics he covers.
    There's a lot of fluff: side stories about how smart, sophisticated and interesting he is; how stupid, uncultured and boring everyone else is; his personal philosophy, which is not very interesting i.m.o; etc.
    He's very arrogant.
    He suffers from "abstractitis" and the-love-of-the-long-word-and-contorted-sentence-structure.
    He uses unexplained jargon in his explanations.
    That's about half the problems I have with Taleb's style.

    Taleb has strange ideas about science and scientists, math and mathematicians. He also sees himself as a defender, expert in, connoisseur, etc. of the following: science, mathematics, philosophy, language, journalism, culture, art, ...
    Did I mention he's very arrogant?
    He says in the book that he thinks trained scientists are not really scientists, but he is a true scientist. He also says Einstein though he was a demigod, and hints that he think otherwise. He believes mathematics is boring, irrelevant to reality, and is about "solving equations".

    Just so I don't bore you, this will be my last paragraph. Other than the stuff about economics -- which I didn't understand, since Taleb never explains anything -- I didn't find much original in the book. Most of the stuff I have read in other pop-science books or studied at university. I bring this up because so many people have said this book is extremely original, ground-breaking etc., and Fortune named it as one of the smartest books ever. I do not see Taleb as an original thinker. What I will give Taleb credit for is that he is widely read.
    I have given roughly a quarter of my ideas on the book, and as you can see, I am not a fan. So, what do you guys and gals think?
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  2. jcsd
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Can you offer guidance or do you also need help?
Draft saved Draft deleted