The Black Swan
Before the discovery of Australia, all the world had never seen a black swan before. An impossible accomplishment in someones life before this time was referred to as “ a black swan.” The mere sight of one black swan after the discovery of Australia negated the thousands of years of sightings of white swans and thinking they were the only species of swan. This generalization that was put on the term “black swan” before the british occupation of Australia is just an example of the illustration of the human mind and how one sighting can alter the mindset of thousands of years of thinking.
The author Nassim Taleb has donated his whole life to philosophy, uncertainty, probability and finance. Starting as a chauffeur, Nassim worked his way up to become a businessman trader and later a university professor. By using his theory of Mediocristan and Extremistan, Taleb explains how the impact of the highly improbable affects all of us and personally each person has a handful of “black swans” which alter our lives for the better , or the worse. Mediocristan are easy to predict events that are easy to mentally compute, while extremistan are events that are unpredictable and affect the world in a major way.
The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb is a nonfiction philosophy book that expresses one mans theory on rare human events that happen without warning, yet greatly impact the world as we know it. This book can be seen as a memoir of Taleb’s life and how his research has been his black swan, and has driven him to take risks and go greater distances than he would have without the incentive.
The purpose of this book is to inform the reader of the impact of the highly unpredictable. A black swan , in terms of an event has 3 properties, 1. It is hard to predict based on historical information, 2. Low predictability – High consequence , 3. The events are perspectively unpredictable yet retrospectively predictable. The black swan events happen in everyones lives, or at least “affect” everyone lives. For example one of the most famous black swans in recent history is the invention of the computer and world wide web. Originally seen as a stock bubble by intel, is now a multi trillion dollar industry and a large part of the world are in contact with it.
The book embarks on many peoples journeys and encounters with black swans, all encounters were unexpected but altered the peoples lives in a major way. The book takes place in Lebanon but mostly New York, where ironically many of the black swans happen. Having to do with different mathematical formulas, Taleb’s book hits the major focal points of rare events and that everyone encounters them making all people black swans in there own way.
This book should be read by anyone interested in philosophy or the stock market. Although people don’t see it this way, but the stock market is directly affected by black swans and such things mentioned in the book as Gaussin’s bell curve or mediocristan and extremistan. These formulas and theory’s affect the market and affect the life of people. This book was very interesting and after reading it, the reader gets a different view on life and how major events in there life time, ex. ( 9/11, invention of the computer…) affect there life and impact there day to day progress as a human being.