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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
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