Black Swan. Nassim Nicholas Taleb. A brief content of the book

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Black Swan

Under the sign of unpredictability


As the literary critic Harold Bloom, Hamlet's misfortune was not that, that he thought too much, but, he thought too well and therefore lost the opportunity to entertain illusions. То же самое можно сказать о философе, writer and floor trader Nassim Nicholas Taleb. He is very skeptical about the overconfident financial guru, investment analysts, Presidents of hedge funds, bankers on Wall Street, Nobel laureate in economics and other authorities, claims the ability to predict the future. According to Taleb, mistake of all these people is, they do not take into account the "black swans" - This term refers to the author of an extremely important, but it is extremely unlikely events, the onset of which is almost impossible to foresee. Bright, personal style and the author's literary talent could not overshadow all the unorthodoxy of his views. The result was an exciting, disputable, etched in my memory book about the role of randomness and unpredictability of human life. Taleb has created a potent cure for gullibility, прием которого рекомендует читателям даже несмотря на то, that someone it may seem unbearably bitter.

From the brief content of the book you will learn:

  • Why do people underestimate the role of "black swans" - crucial, but unpredictable events;
  • Why in the interpretation of these people are hard fall into the same error;
  • How to learn to take into account the factor of chance and the appearance of "black swans".

The main ideas

  • "Black swans" - it is extremely important, but it is extremely unlikely events, which can be explained only after, they happened.
  • That "black swans" determined the course of technological development, science, Economy and Culture.
  • The closer communication in the modern world, the more important the role of "black swans".
  • The human mind is in the grip of many ignorant ideas, illusions and prejudices.
  • One of the most damaging stereotypes - the incorrect use of statistical tools, as the normal distribution curve, ignoring the emergence of "black swans".
  • For the simulation of many important phenomena much better fit such statistical tools, as a power-law distribution.
  • expert advice is often meaningless and useless.
  • Most forecasts - no more than a pseudo-scientific speculation.
  • Rebuild your thinking so, to overcome prejudice and always remember the random factor, - hard, but feasible task.
  • Человек может научиться ограждать себя от воздействия негативных “черных лебедей” и получать выгоду от позитивных событий такого рода.

about the author

Nassim Nicholas Taleb - a former floor trader, torhovavshyy derivatives, now professor of the theory of uncertainty in the University of Massachusetts. Also teaches at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University. The author of another book - "Fooled by Randomness".

Brief contents

When all swans were white

To 1697 year school teachers across Europe confidently asserted disciples, что все лебеди – белые. In those days, to hold otherwise would not reason, because all the swans, ever come to the attention of scientists, really we had a snow-white plumage. Но однажды голландский мореплаватель Виллем де Фламинг высадился в Австралии и среди удивительных представителей местной фауны обнаружил настоящих черных лебедей. Now, when they appeared before the eyes of the Europeans, doubt their existence was as foolish, as before - is to admit the existence of.

"Modern world… develops thanks to the unusual, extremely rare event ".

If you've never seen a black swan, this does not mean, that there are no black swans. Unlikely events seem impossible only until, пока о них рассуждают с теоретической точки зрения. But when these events do occur, all sorts of "experts" like the venerable political analysts and financial analysts bite elbows because, that were able to predict things, which today seems so obvious as, as yesterday seemed unbelievable. Suffice it to recall the "sudden" the beginning of the two world wars, terrorist acts 11 Sep 2001 years and the collapse of the dot-com in the late 1990s. Examples of other events, had a revolutionary impact on the world, - an internal combustion engine, the personal computer and the Internet, the release of the cult of literary works such as the Harry Potter books. All of these events, about which no one knew in advance, in retrospect, seem natural and inevitable. But why?

"We see only what, what happened, not thinking about, what would happen ".

The human mind has an amazing ability to simplify all the information, colossal amount of which comes from all sides. In the end, Our mind is a product of evolution, and no fundamentally new knowledge of the mechanism in the course of this evolution does not appear. Initially, the mind was a means of survival for primitive people, wandered two hundred thousand years ago on the African savannah. By thinking only needed help in reaching reproductive age. Thus, simplification, generalization, bias and self-deception - this is not the flaws of human cognition, and supporting factors, allow a person to focus on solving a particular problem, racking information in the endless flow. However, the ability to simplify has its price. Take, for example, History and stories.

"People - the phenomenally successful creatures… In us by nature to love to take risks, and to the foolish ".

The deceptive nature of the tales

Stories and stories help people remember the past and understand it. How does a typical biographical sketch, dedicated to some businessman? The story begins with present time, when the hero has already made a fortune. The author then takes us back, to the origins of the life path of the hero. Of course, he starts his business from scratch and longed to make money - this is it, so to speak, "Vital motivation". One obstacle to the hero grows by one, and on his way, possible, standing rival antagonist. But our hero always takes bold, visionary solutions, no matter what the skeptics caution. Achieving success after success, in the end he is making capital, early retires, Centerfolds marries and becomes the father of gifted children, which play Chopin and blindly enter the prestigious universities. HERO discussed in business schools, and MBA students reverently look to him, when he read them a lecture, touting his latest book. he superman, he is the perfect role model.

"We love to hear stories about the past, because we like to generalize and simplify, ie. reduce the scale of the phenomenon ".

But let's look at this story from a different point of view. What if our hero ... just lucky in life? His alleged merits had nothing to do with his success. In fact, he pulled a lucky lottery ticket. although the surrounding, seeing the unexpected success of the human, We invented the whole story about his unmatched talents, in fact, he simply was in the right time in the right place. Such is the nature of "Player of delusion": people tend to underestimate the role of a lucky chance in life, а в азартных играх они ее, on the contrary, переоценивают. Даже сам герой-бизнесмен становится жертвой ошибочного умозаключения. Рассматривая свой успех, он делает далеко идущие выводы: “Если это сделал я, то сумеет сделать и любой другой!". Он мог бы сказать то же самое, просто купив выигрышный лотерейный билет: “Да я просто гений – ведь я вытянул номер 3293927! Мне долго не везло в лотерею, но в конце концов я добился своего!".

“Я ничего не имею против тех, кто использует в рассказе сюжетные упрощения для привлечения внимания читателя… It is something else - these simplifications can be disastrous, if you resort to it is not there, where necessary ".

Not every success is due to a happy coincidence. In some professions (for example, Dentist) play a key role and skills. However, in many other professions is extremely important factor of success. Consider the case of succeeding businessman in the context of his social group. Where are all those people, who started as, he, and they had the same personal qualities? They are also rich - or rummaging through garbage cans? As a rule, such facts reliably establish virtually impossible. An excellent example of this is the success in the art. Today, everyone knows the writer Balzac, but it is likely, that at the same time it worked no less talented writers. However, their products irretrievably lost, because these people were not destined to succeed. It is thanks to their "defeat" Balzac earned a reputation as one of a kind great master, but silent evidence of this long-buried in the graveyard of history.

"It is remarkable, that a couple of hundred years ago, people just idealize their past, we idealize today its ".

Property of consciousness to simplify the reality is often pushed to the wrong conclusion. For example, when a person has a certain idea, He starts looking for the facts, confirming its. The bias of this kind is called "epistemological blindness": a person becomes overly confident in the correctness of his ideas, and discounting the random factor. That idea seemed consistent, People tend not to notice the contradictory facts or events, trying to find (and finding) patterns, which is really no. The boundaries of perception while narrow - a phenomenon called "tunnel thinking". To overcome their bias, many have resorted to the advice of various experts, but expert opinion is often just as valuable, result than tossing a coin or throwing darts in graph stock quotes trained chimpanzee.

"I know, that the future course of history will be determined by the onset of the extremely unlikely event; я только не знаю, what it will be ".

"Country usual" and "Country of the exclusive"

So, the human mind tends to smooth out the rough edges of reality. The significance of this fact depends on, where you currently are - in the "normal country" or "exclusive Country". These two countries - a metaphor, allow to distinguish between two fundamentally different class of phenomena. In the "Land of the usual" focus phenomenon, which can be described using traditional statistical concepts, such as normal probability distribution. In the "Land of the exclusive" collected individual events and phenomena, far beyond the normal distribution.

"The real measure of our understanding of reality is not the interpretation of the past, and forecasts of the future ".

Проиллюстрируем это различие на примерах человеческого роста и количества билетов, продаваемых кинотеатрами. В первом случае выборка может включать в себя гигантов двухметрового роста и карликов с ростом ниже 70 inches, но среди них все равно не найдется никого, чей рост достигал бы, say, 500 метров или не превышал бы трех сантиметров. Предельные значения здесь ограничены самой природой. А теперь обратимся к количеству билетов, продаваемых кинотеатрами. Сборы от одного блокбастера способны настолько превысить средний объем продаж, that the simulation of the sample using a bell curve in this case, it is obviously incorrect, а само понятие “среднее значение” – бессмысленным. Для анализа данных такого рода лучше использовать другие инструменты – например, power distribution curve, razrabotannuyu Vylfredo Pareto (author of the famous "80/20 principle"). In this model, exceptional events are not considered as anomalies - on the contrary, they actually define the shape of the curve.

"I am outraged, that we continue to confidently make forecasts on the basis of methods, do not take into account the possibility of rare events ".

Social processes are not amenable to modeling using the normal distribution, because they manifest "contagion effect" - the ability to self-empowerment. For example, your desire to watch another cult film due, among other things, the fact, thing about this movie is spoken by all the surrounding. In such situations,, as they say, "Stick the money to the money" - a popular blockbuster is becoming even more popular, yet it will not look huge number of spectators. Similarly, it is with wealth. The wealthiest people of the planet is not just richer than the "ordinary" rich people - they are richer than them so, which does not fit into the normal distribution curve. If you suddenly find yourself in the same car with Bill Gates, the average size of the state of the vehicle passengers exceeds 25 billions of dollars. But in this case, the distribution is not normal, because you are already in the "Land of the exclusive"!

"It is not important, how often do you find yourself right, and then, how big is the total price of your mistakes ".

Fake forecasts shine

To live in the "Land of the exclusive" it would be easy, if we were able to accurately predict the time of occurrence of anomalies and their scale. But this can not nobody. Screenwriter William Goldman once said, that no man is able to tell in advance, whether there is one or the other Hollywood the film blockbuster. Similarly, no one could foresee, what fate awaits the book about the boy wizard with a bizarre birthmark, written by a housewife. With stock quotes situation is similar. all, who declares, that can predict the dynamics of the value of shares in the next few years, It can safely be considered a charlatan. Not better is the situation with the forecasts of technological development. Nobody knows, what will be the next revolutionary invention. Experts predict, as a rule, systematically overlooked by those "black swans", that move the story forward.

"Create your situation, beneficial effects that far outweigh the adverse ".

Errors of this kind we owe "the blind" and "seeing eye". "Blind man" conditionally called people, who can think only in those categories, who have invested them in the head. If everyone, that you have - is a hammer, then around you, you will inevitably see only some nails. If you operate only with such concepts, like a normal probability distribution and standard deviation, you will everywhere haunt the bell curve, and you will discard any ambiguous data, writing off their to "artifacts". А “поводыри” – это эксперты, in councils where people need. In some areas, experts can not be determined, as the phenomenon, which must understand this expert, absolutely unpredictable. This fact is often possible to mitigate - such as, convince yourself, that the world is much more rational, it seems. This consolation runs until, until the stock market crash occurs or acts of terrorism 11 Sep 2001 year (negative anomalies), or projection screens do not go "Star Wars" and does not appear online (positive anomalies).

"We misunderstand the nature of strong deviations from the norm".

How to make friends with "Black Swan"

However, do not despair - "black swans" can be tamed, if you follow certain "epistemic virtues".

"In the end, an accident - it's just our ignorance. peace opaque, and the outer side of deceptive phenomena ".

  • Be prepared for a meeting with the "black swan". Always remember, где вы находитесь – в “Стране обычного” или “Стране исключительного”. If you watch the "contagion effect", you should know, что вы в “Стране исключительного”.
  • Вы должны быть хозяином своих убеждений. Будьте готовы пересмотреть свои взгляды, если столкнетесь с опровергающими их фактами. Не бойтесь говорить “Я не знаю”, “Я ошибался” или “Этот метод не сработал”.
  • Научитесь тонко чувствовать, где можно ошибаться, а где – нельзя. Что вы пытаетесь предсказать: какой торт попросит ваша дочь на день рождения, или какая будет цена на нефть через 17 лет после того, как вы вложили все свои сбережения в нефтяные фьючерсы? Никто не застрахован от ошибок и глупостей, but if in some cases harmless stupidity, in others it can be a deadly.
  • Remember, in many cases, nothing can be known for sure.Strive to go beyond their thought patterns. Instead of searching for the correct version better eliminate obviously wrong.
  • C increase in the forecast horizon the number of errors increases exponentially. Недоверчиво относитесь к слишком точным прогнозам – приблизительная картина может оказаться гораздо полезнее. Often it is more important to focus on predictions of the consequences, rather than their accuracy.
  • Strive for a positive "black swan". Одновременно ограждайте себя от воздействия негативных событий такого рода. Look for asymmetrical situation, in which the beneficial effects substantially outweigh the adverse. Try to increase the likelihood of a happy event (for example, live in a big city, have a wide circle of friends and acquaintances).
  • analyze unobvious. Придумав теорию, look for the facts to refute it, rather than engage in collection of evidence. If your theory or idea can be proved, it does not mean, that it is correct.
  • Beware of credulity. К рассказам о событиях из прошлого относитесь критически – эти рассказы нередко тенденциозны. they often just play the role of psychological armor, helping to take down "arrows hitting the warring fortune". Learn to think independently. Avoid the "blind" and "guide".

"Every morning the world seems to me even more unpredictable and deceptive, than he was yesterday ".

No matter how improbable it may seem the emergence of the universe, Planet Earth and your own life, These events have already taken place, поэтому наслаждайтесь своим везением и помните, that you, too, "Black Swan".

Learning stock trading on the NYSE, Nasdaq, Amex

The best posts of the month


The most interesting