Read While Driving

As many of you know, I am in the car many hours each week.  In order to redeem the time, I’ve taken to listening to audio books.  When I finish a book, I copy the cover, write a few notes about what I thought of the book and put it in a file.  The other day I was assembling a bibliography for an Expedition Roundtable and realized I had listened to a bucket load of books.  I figured I’d send out a review once a month by email.  I promise you that the review will be no longer than one paragraph.  And I’ll give you my opinion.   If you are intrigued by my review, you can buy the book.  I’ll provide and Amazon link.

Here goes:

Taleb is a mathematician, commodity trader and all around smart guy. He argues that even though scientists were sure that swans only came in white, it only took one black swan to show that the well-founded theory was wrong.  He argues that applying normal statistics to economics will eventually be the ruin of us.  Why?  Because normal statistics are based on assumptions that don’t apply to the real world of unlikely events.  I’ll admit that the guy is WAY smarter than me.  No contest.  He is also WAY more, uh… “confident.”  He drops names of famous authors you’ve heard other smart people talk about, but weren’t sure you wanted to read,.  He references books that mere mortals can’t pronounce let alone read.  He buddies up to Nobel Laureates (while he disdains the Nobel Prize System). He falls into the trap of writing a long book because he didn’t have enough time to write a short one.  Overall, it will set you on your heels and make you rethink what you know about unlikely events.  My advice:  If you like reading about stock markets, catastrophes and the like, you should read the last third of the book.  In the end, it is a book about how we deceive ourselves.