February 1, 2007
News & Opinion: The Black Swan - Few and Far Between
I just started reading Nassim Nicholas Taleb's The Black Swan and I think it is wonderful. The former Wall Street trader writes about outliers in the world (9/11, 1929 Market Crash, etc). He says Black Swans have three characteristics: rarity, extreme impact, and retrospective (though not prospective) predictability. Taleb says we are not wired for these sorts of events and that concentrating on what we know (rather than what we don't know) makes us even more susceptible to Black Swans.
Taleb gained quite a cult following with his 2003 Fooled by Randomness. You can get spun up on the first book by reading the New Yorker article Malcolm Gladwell wrote called Blowing Up or this Q&A from New Scientist.
For fans who read the original hardcover, you might want to check out the paperback version. Taleb added 75 pages, rewriting an entire chapter and adding extensive endnotes.
More on this one soon...