The Black Swan

The Impact of the Highly Improbable

Ranked #1 in Statistics, Ranked #1 in Patternsee more rankings.

A black swan is a highly improbable event with three principal characteristics: It is unpredictable; it carries a massive impact; and, after the fact, we concoct an explanation that makes it appear less random, and more predictable, than it was.

The astonishing success of Google was a black swan; so was 9/11. For Nassim Nicholas Taleb, black swans underlie almost everything about our world, from the rise of religions to events in our own personal lives.

Why do we not acknowledge the phenomenon of black swans until after they occur? Part of the answer, according to...

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Reviews and Recommendations

We've comprehensively compiled reviews of The Black Swan from the world's leading experts.

Jeff Bezos Founder/Amazon[From the book "The Everything Store: and the Age of Amazon"] “The scholar argues that people are wired to see patterns in chaos while remaining blind to unpredictable events, with massive consequences. Experimentation and empiricism trumps the easy and obvious narrative,” Stone writes. (Source)

Bill Gates CEO/Microsoft[On Bill Gates's reading list in 2012.] (Source)

Vinod Khosla Co-Founder/Sun MicrosystemRecommends this book

Simon Sinek AuthorRecommends this book

Vinod Khosla Co-Founder/Sun MicrosystemRecommends this book

Peter Thiel Entrepreneur, InvestorRecommends this book

Ryan Holiday AuthorRecommends this book

James Altucher Founder/StockPickrAnd throw in “The Black Swan” and “Fooled by Randomness”. “Fragile” means if you hit something might break. “Resilient” means if you hit something, it will stay the same. On my podcast Nassim discusses “Antifragility” – building a system, even on that works for you on a personal level, where you if you harm your self in some way it becomes stronger. That podcast changed my life He discusses Antifragility throughout history, up to our current economic situation, and even in our personal situations. (Source)

Fabrice Grinda I have lots of books to recommend, but they are not related to my career path. The only one that is remotely related is Peter Thiel’s Zero to One. That said here are books I would recommend. (Source)

Bill Liao The human world occurs in language so best get good at it! (Source)

Michael Herrmann Life is governed by chance, even if we humans like to think of ourselves as in control by retroactively explaining things that happened in the past. (Source)

Ola Olusoga Like Charlie Munger once said: “I’ve long believed that a certain system - which almost any intelligent person can learn - works way better than the systems most people use [to understand the world]. What you need is a latticework of mental models in your head. And, with that system, things gradually fit together in a way that enhances cognition. Just as multiple factors shape every system, multiple mental models from a variety of disciplines are necessary to understand that system". You can read this book to start building a "latticework of mental models in your head". (Source)

Gabriel Coarna Nassim Taleb's "The Black Swan" made me completely rethink my understanding of "risk". (Source)

Edward Norton I really like [this book]. (Source)

Bob Carr At Dymocks, a book for a time of plague: Taleb’s Black Swan. How did this thing come to hit us, out of nowhere? Plus, Camus’ The Plague. Great and full of parallels. (Source)

Burton Malkiel Five Books aims to keep its book recommendations and interviews up to date. If you are the interviewee and would like to update your choice of books (or even just what you say about them) please email us at (Source)

Anant Jain The five-book series, "Incerto", by Nassim Nicholas Taleb has had a profound impact on how I think about the world. There’s some overlap across the books — but you'll likely find the repetition helpful in retaining the content better. (Source)

Marie Denis I’m not sure that’s the goal of the book but it helped me understand the random characteristic of entrepreneurship. Although the author applies it more to finance and research, it explains how some very rare events have disproportionate consequences and how we can’t predict them. I think success in entrepreneurship is the result of a lot of factors and not just hard work. So it might not be very positive and motivating but in a way it allowed me to have this perspective at a time where we highlight lots of successful entrepreneurs and don’t necessary see all the failures. (Source)

Liquan Liew The Black Swan - realising that Life happens beyond one's control. But also that serendipitous encounters are real if only we open our eyes to them. (Source)

Darvin Kurniawan "The Black Swan" by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (and basically the others in the series like "Fooled by Randomness" and "Antifragile") are also my favourites. It explained things that I sort of felt existed but unable to articulate. These books explained it well, about the role of chance/probability and randomness, in our lives. (Source)

Audrey Russo Question: What books would you recommend to young people interested in your career path? Answer: Anything by Peter Senge. The Hard Thing About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz Once you are Lucky, Twice you are good – Sara Lacey Revolutionary Wealth – Alvin Toffler Black Swan – Taleb Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change, by Ellen Pao. Creative Class – Richard Florida Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull & Amy Wallace Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis American Government 101: From the Continental Congress to the Iowa Caucus, Everything You Need to Know About US Politics – Kathleen Spears The Tao... (Source)

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