PDF Nassim Nicholas Taleb ï Antifragile Things That Gain from Disorder PDF ☆ ï

From the bestselling author of The Black Swan and one of the foremost philosophers of our time Nassim Nicholas Taleb a book on how some systems actually benefit from disorderIn The Black Swan Taleb outlined a problem; in Antifragile he offers a definitive solution how to gain from disorder and chaos while being protected from fragilities and adverse events For what he calls the antifragile is one step beyond robust as it benefits from adversity uncertainty and stressors just as human bones get stronger when subjected to stress and tensionTaleb stands uncertainty on its head making it desirable and proposing that things be built in an antifragile manner Extremely ambitious and multidisciplinary Antifragile provides a blueprint for how to behave and thrive in a world we don't understand and which is too uncertain for us to even try to understand He who is not antifragile will perish Why is the city state better than the nation state why is debt bad for you and why is almost everything modern bound to fail? The book covers innovation health biology medicine life decisions politics foreign policy urban planning war personal finance and economic systems Throughout the voice and recipes of the ancient wisdom from Phoenician Roman Greek and Medieval sources are heard loud and clear


10 thoughts on “Antifragile Things That Gain from Disorder

  1. says:

    Taleb seems constitutionally angry dismissive and contrarian sometimes to the point of being an asshole However one cannot deny his talent of conveying crucially important concepts in a clear and entertaining fashion I would rather have every one of my biases and heuristics kicked around so I will reconsider where they came from and whether to keep them than be coddled and comfortedPerhaps the best heuristic reminders I received from this book 1 Invest trust in people not plans 2 Favor broad diversification so as to reduce negative exposure to any given event 3 Look for optionality; rank things according to optionality preferably with open ended payoffs 4 Options that benefit from volatility disruption and entropy are the best but keep your skin in the game; never transfer your fragility to someone else 5 Eschew intervention unless it is completely obvious that lack of intervention in a given critical case is much dangerous 6 If you generate than one reason to do something you're trying to convince yourself; this is a strong sign to wait or even reject the plan; that said if you have a single excellent reason go for it and don't be afraid of failure 7 You learn from failure subtractive knowledge than success anyway My personal threshold is three reasonsFavorite uote from this book The worst problem of modernity lies in the malignant transfer of fragility and antifragility from one party to the other with one getting the benefits the other unwittingly getting the harm with such transfer facilitated by the growing wedge between the ethical and the legalMy own aphorisms inspired by this book 1 To add is folly; to abstain wise; subtract divine 2 All models have at least one too many degrees of freedom and all models have at least one wrong premise Therefore every model can be optimized to a single variable function that doesn't work


  2. says:

    The author goes to extreme lengths to make up new words or turn common sense wisdom on its head Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility randomness disorder and stressors Yet in spite of the ubiuity of the phenomenon there is no word for the exact opposite of fragile Let us call it antifragile Really? The word adaptable wouldn't suffice? Antifragile is not the last word he makes up either Instead of writing the word brave for instance he substitutes nonmeek In the future I would suggest the author try using a thesaurus or as he probably calls it an antidictionaryElsewhere the author launches into lengthy diatribes against academia which he tried but found university life filled with petty obsessions envy and icy cold hatreds He says that business in contrast brings out the best in peopleand makes people forgiving honest loving and trusting It was at this point on page 17 that I contemplated throwing the book against the wall for the first but not last time I ultimately never threw it because at nearly 500 pages I was worried about damaging my apartment's drywall


  3. says:

    Antifragile is a book that is difficult to summarize I'll try to mention a few major ideas If they come out confusing it's my fault read the book Unlike many books of this genre which spend 200 pages padding a 5 page idea Antifragile is a fractal of a book taking it's central ideas and examining and applying them in myriad ways In that way it as rich on page 400 as it is on page 2Taleb is an independent thinker who is almost impossible to categorize In fact he revels in uestion some of the most basic assumptions of modern life There are times I find him pompous and nearly conceited and times when you realize that in going after the people and ideas that he does that he needs a very thick skin a uite a bit of confidence He backs up views with layers of research and technical material When I find him at his best though is when he takes an idea that you've taken for granted and finds a dozen ways to show you why it's farcicalIf you've ever seen him on television or on video do not take that persona as the one in this book Although he defends his style I've found his public appearances on the whole pretty awful I saw him on Fareed Zakaria's show the other day and even though I was 34 through his book I could still barely understand his points Taleb though would say that's by design that by having to work for understanding his viewers are forced to stay for cognitively engaged I don't buy it He is a much better author than he is a speaker and he probably likes it that wayAntifragile is about fragility and it's converse antifragility In fragile systems the benefits are small and visible and the the side effects are potentially severe and invisibleTaleb illustrates the basics of fragileantifragile with the example of package to be shipped If you were to pack glasses in the box even carefully you would still know that the box would not respond well to disturbances like being dropped or mishandled Glasses are fragile If you were to pack a steel cube in the box you would have no such problem Drop it or whatever the cube is robust not changed by disturbances However imagine if there was an item you put in the box that was improved by disturbances that was made stronger or capable by being mishandled That is the true opposite of fragile or as Taleb refers to this property antifragileWhat are real life examples of antifragility? Evolution for one functions better when being put under stress Entrepreneurial ventures too are made better by an uncertain environment because they are organizations designed to learn and change from stresses Sometimes a system is antifragile even though it's components aren't; organisms might die because of stress but the entire ecosystem is made stronger over the long runA key point he makes is that in our rush to help fix or support system in short do something we often make systems fragile in the long run One of his primary examples is medicine In our efforts to make relatively small improvements to peoples lives through intervention our health in the long run becomes fragile subject to the long term effects of drugs and therapies and by the lifestyles that continue to enableHis point is that you bet on the most tested system and the most tested system we know of is Mother Nature and evolution Anything we do needs to be judged against systems that had millions of years of stresses This is not to say that modern medicine is a bad thing because when it is helpful it is very helpful but when it it used for relatively minor improvements the risks outweigh the rewardsBecause of this he is a strong advocate of intervention by subtraction Instead of finding better cures for diabetes modify diets to remove sugary foods Indeed stopping smoking has been one of the most successful medical interventions of the last 40 years He introduced me to the term iatrogrenic making things worse by doing somethingThe essence of the Black Swan the event that is so rare that it's never been observed or maybe maybe never occurred before is the fallacy that the absence of evidence is evidence of absence These are not the same thing However we often treat them as synonymous until something totally unforseen happens And that's part of the point Unforseen events are not failures of prediction they are simply unforseeable We need to ready our systems that we cannot anticipate that is built systems that are at least robust and that are hopefully antifragileFinally he feels that the major cause of fragility in modern life is lack of skin in the game when one set of people become antifragile and transfer the fragility to another set of people Some examples include managers of large corporations who do well no matter how their company does or the effect it has on the general economy Writers and pundits who push views but have are in no way affected no matter if they are right or wrong Politicians who enact complex policies but who are in no way affected by them and who in fact use this complexity to become highly compensated once they leave office This last point should especially be taken to heart Keep an eye out for who is saying and doing things and how much stake they personally have in whether they are correct If the answer is zero or even worse they are betting against themselves then they are not to be taken seriouslyOverall this was a book that made me re evaluate who sets of assumptions I've made about how the world works which for me is the ultimate test of any book of this type It's not an easy read and there is material in there to challenge almost any reader philosophy mathematics business economics to name a few but it is well worth the trip


  4. says:

    Taleb has some great ideas Unfortunately he also has what he calls FU money which allows him to do what he wants without suffering fools Which for Taleb includes pretty much anyone including editors whose help he could useWhen are two similar ideas not really the same? Taleb takes the human immune response and the muscle hypertrophy response to resistance training as examples of the same thing systems responding to stress by getting better able to handle the stress And they do have that in common But they are different and very specialized systemic responses What do they have in common? What can we learn from them apart from the fact that solving problems is good?Taleb later argues that avoiding stress is bad that it prevents the organism from developing the ability to manage the stress that will eventually return in a stronger form But it's not clear how the good system designed to deal with stress differ from the bad ones If exposure to small stresses is good because it allows you to overcome the stress why is overcoming the stress bad? The famously complex immune system with its unfortunate side effects allergies auto immune disease looks a lot like the sort of overengineered over protective solution with unintended conseuences Taleb later mocksMoving on from the organism Taleb's next example is evolution He does acknowledge that the organism and the species have very different views on what is good The species is antifragile and it thrives often when particular organisms do not Selection pressures kill individuals but they strengthen the group argues Taleb But selection pressures also wipe out species And genera And orders And so on And they'll wipe out all of life possibly Meanwhile they do create conditions that result in the magic of evolution but the awards go to the survivors those most successful at avoiding or handling stress not those who subject themselves to the most stress There is no Nature that likes stress one of Taleb's troublesome figures of speech I don't have time to pick apart every example and argument he makes nor would it be possible as each one reappears several times in a vague skein of association that prevents the clear development of any single idea Here is where we most feel the absence of the editor Didn't he already say that? Didn't he define that term before? No? Could this book be boiled down by about 70%?I do have to mention the use of math He often suggests that the reader skip a section would that I had as it is technical But there was no difference that I could see between the technical and non technical parts both were vague and repetitive There's even a technical appendix which I turned to uite avidly hoping for concrete development of Taleb's ideas But no All I found was a brilliant exhibit of how to detect math BS if an author provides an euation that includes variables that are not defined anywhere in the text then the euation is meaningless and the author is blowing smoke In the economic world Taleb is a bit persuasive The law of unintended conseuences is well known and it's no surprise that efforts to protect this market or that industry are usually lobbyist hatched schemes to assist those least in need of assistance Where firms are able to succeed in spite of challenges they have often grown strong enough to challenge firms grown in the hothouse environment of closed markets If Taleb had written about this it might have been as good a book as The Black Swan But with his FU money and his goal of becoming a philosopher he must have decided that was too pedestrian


  5. says:

    This book has been such a disappointmentIt started absolutely great and has an idea antifragility that is worthy and notable and interesting Wait let me back up from the beginning I could not finish this bookWhen I read non fiction I tend to stick to certain rules1 I want to learn from the books I read I tend not to read Mathematics for example except in formal context since normally when I read Math being exposed to the general public I noticed how poorly they are really explaining the concepts2 I don't read books if I agree with the conclusion For example since I am an atheist I seldom read books on the subject of why we should be atheists I enjoy the rest of Richard Dawkins works3 I refused to be bored Despite the previous points I do not read books on astrology for example because I am certain they will not convince me of their truth I won't learn from them but even certain I will find them utterly and completely boringThis book started as an amazing jewel A book where I was reaching for the thankfully virtual dictionary almost in every page When I read the page almost at the beginning of the book that saidNow we aim after some work to connect in the reader's mind with a single thread elements seemingly far apart such as Cato the Elder Nietzsche Thales of Miletus the potency of the system of city states the sustainability of artisans the process of discovery the onesidedness of opacity financial derivatives antibiotic resistance bottom up systems Socrates' invitation to overrationalize how to lecture birds obsessive love Darwinian evolution the mathematical concept of Jensen's ineuality optionality and option theory the idea of ancestral heuristics the works of Joseph de Maistre and Edmund Burke Wittgenstein's antirationalism the fraudulent theories of the economics establishment tinkering and bricolage terrorism exacerbated by death of its members an apologia for artisanal societies the ethical flaws of the middle class Paleo style workouts and nutrition the idea of medical iatrogenics the glorious notion of the magnificent megalopsychon my obsession with the idea of convexity and my phobia of concavity the late 2000s banking and economic crisis the misunderstanding of redundancy the difference between tourist and flâneur etc All in one single and I am certain simple threadI thought I was in for the biggest treat in reading since WittgensteinAlas though the book starts in a wonderful way and the idea of antifragility is an amazing idea at some point you realize something is happening At first the author criticizes pseudo scientificism then stars swearing for Baal That is followed by an exposition of the trivial truth that there are options outside finance that are poorly priced as if that was a hidden previously unknown idea And finally around the middle of the book he dismisses science all together He claims and unfortunately fails to prove that science does not produce most of the technological and others? Not clear innovations through history He does this through the simple method of claiming we got it backwards then claiming that in some cases some people claim we got it backwards then admitting that there may be a few cases where we got it right but that those are not important All this starts with some academicians giving birds lectures on how to fly Before you continue reading this review may I remind you again that I could not finish this book? It became boring Further if you agree with the author I should point out that I am of course a sworn enemy of what he exposes having a PhD in mathematics and all Never lectured birds though just taught some calculus and functional analysis to non flying human beingsCase in point He claims Euclid results aren't used in Architecture Then admits that the Pythagorean Theorem is used somewhat in architecture Who has claim Euclid was central to architecture is not clear But this represents an ignorance of what Euclid did He was formalizing previous knowledge This knowledge was not all original though some was To say that people knew some of the things Euclid did before he wrote his books through trial and error is trivial Before Pythagoras the Chinese and the Babylonians knew examples of Pythagorean Triangles the Chinese may even have known the theorem What we appreciate from Pythagoras is the proof which Euclid wrote not claiming it was being written for the first time To claim that the pythagorean theorem or trigonometry wasn't used in architecture or engineering before the renaissance is just mere blindness Go ahead attempt to build a tunnel or measure a distance or calculating how many stones you need for that door without anything in the books of Euclid I'll wait Yes people didn't cite or knew Euclid but they were using the results not referencing scientific literatureTo say that academic research is not based on trial and error is not just a mistake but not having and inkling of what is involved in any type of academic research at least in the hard sciences Academic research even in mathematics consist of nothing but trial and error Yes afterwards we write the papers as if we knew everything all along but that is not the practice of science but its resultTo then say that academic research has not contributed to innovations in technology and to try to claim that drop outs' have innovated is confusing the business of technology with technology itself is ignoring what cryptography is and how it developed is ignoring the irony of the applicability of Hardy's mathematical results is ignoring the history of the World Wide Web Netscape Sun Microsystems NASA HP and a million others It's simply claiming as true what you wanted to be true without examining it honestly To use the internet as an example of academic research not contributing in technology is to deny a reality that I livedAt the end this book is dishonest and boring Yes it may have something to be learned from it but it is an injustice to try to pass crummy thinking as if it was part of a great idea


  6. says:

    What a frustrating book10% of it was brilliant and original ideas I was very glad to learn about antifragility and optionality as it relates to life and businessUnfortunately the other 90% of it was spent whining I can't describe it any other way and moralizing of the most weaksauce variety UghStill worth reading if you're patient or if you can skim heavily through his modern society sucks the Romans were awesome diatribes


  7. says:

    I've been reading this book Antifragile for almost four weeks I call it reading I've turned all the pages I've read all the words That's reading right?Or is it?I started off pretty well somehow managing to get my brain around the whole idea of antifragile a word the author Nassim Nicholas Taleb admits he made up There is no real word in English that properly names this idea Everyone understands the idea of fragile something that is destroyed when stressed But the opposite of fragile is than just something that survives difficulties Antifragility Taleb tells us is the idea of a phenomenon that goes beyond mere resilience; antifragility is the idea of something that actually improves with difficulties and uncertaintyTaleb gives us lots of great examples of things that are antifragile evolution culture ideas revolutions political systems technological innovation cultural and economic success corporate survival good recipes say chicken soup or steak tartare with a drop of cognac the rise of cities cultures legal systems euatorial forests bacterial resistanceeven our own existence as a species on this planetI'm high five ing him right and leftlove this idea of antifragile TalebThat was the Prologue however Round about the second or third page of Chapter 1 I find that I'm reading along with no idea what Mr Taleb is explaining He tries he really does and now and then I read a paragraph and think I'm back on the highway The Soviet Harvard Department of Ornithology for example How well do I know that department the people who lecture to birds about proper techniues for flying observe and write reports about the birds' flying abilities and then seek funding to ensure that the lectures will continue But soon I'm back driving in the dark againI don't know if I really read this book Can I add it to my 2013 Book Log? Does it count? Please don't ask me to summarize it or outline it or heaven forbid don't test me on itBut if I didn't really read it why did I like it so much? And why can't I stop thinking about it?Maybe what I did when I read Antifragile was antireading Maybe antireading is the kind of reading where you turn the pages and read the words but understand only a smidgen of what's there and then you think about it for weeks and come back to the book again and again and maybe try to reread it and it tweaks your map about this life even through you really didn't understand much of what you read to begin withMaybe antireading is the best kind of reading of all


  8. says:

    The author somehow is able to pull off sounding like an arrogant prick and simultaneously like an insecure whiner The rare examples when the author wrote something that was true or significant do not offset the hundred of pages of unsubstantiated assertions and purely fabricated nonsense


  9. says:

    I had previously read Nassim Taleb's The Black Swan The Impact of the Highly Improbable; I enjoyed it and this book is definitely better Taleb has a very non traditional style of writing often conversational historical philosophical and scientific all at the same time Taleb's basic thesis is that people and institutions are either fragile robust or antifragile A fragile person is one who thinks he can predict the future and when things go very sour he is sorely hurt usually in a financial way A robust person is one who has set himself up so that he is neutral to downturn episodes An antifragile person knows that he cannot predict the future especially outliers and catastrophic downturns So he has situated himself so that in normal times he may lose a little but when a downturn occurs he stands to gain a lotTaleb writesIn short the fragilista medical economic social planning is one who makes you engage in policies and actions all artificial in which the benefits are small and visible and the side effects potentially severe and invisibleHe writes a lot about the policy fragilista who mistakes the economy for a washing machine that continuously needs fixing by him and blows it up and financial fragilista who makes people use risk models that destroy the banking system then uses them again And the fragile financial people will claim that all is right with the world Then after a financial disaster they will try to rewrite history claiming that they predicted the disaster and tried to avert itTaleb is very outspoken in his opinions When he published The Black Swan he was the recipient of many attacks With this book he should be the recipient of many stronger attacks He is definitely against academics who do not have any skin in the game and comes out heavily in favor of small businesses; he believes that small commerce is door to toleranceTaleb is extremely critical of fragile institutions He considers the Office of Management and Budget to be a bunch of scam artists who are arrogant to believe they can predict the futureTaleb is against much of the scientific basic research as practiced by academics He uses a metaphor of academics using arcane jargon and mathematics lecturing birds on how to fly Then the birds actually fly so the academics take credit for successfully teaching them and get government grants Of course the metaphor sounds silly but replace birds with men and you get the picture Taleb mentions the Yiddish saying If the student is smart the teacher takes the credit Further Taleb criticizes academics who use statistics to prove a hypothesis He accuses them of cherry picking with statistics Sciences that do not use statistics for proofs like physics are not so prone to this approachIt is obvious too that Taleb had a lot of fun writing this book For example he proposed a rather simple financial concept that the experts considered to be too trivial to be true So he writes According to the wonderful principle that one should use people's stupidity to have fun I invited my friend Raphael Douady to collaborate in expressing this simple idea using the most opaue mathematical derivations with incomprehensible theorems that would take half a day for a professional to understand Then the experts started to agree with himTaleb is a moralist and has lots of ethical lessons to give For example he writes that one of the purposes of religion is to protect us from scientism He hates futurists like Ray Kurzweill who he calls the anti me He also detests people who greedily use invisible optionality to get ahead at the expense of others I won't explain optionality here other than to say that it is the use of asymmetry that only has an upside for oneself and no downside except perhaps for others He also hates journalists who help to instigate violence and wars with no negative conseuences when the outcomes are horrificThe two appendices are uite uniue for a book like this The first appendix uses graphs to portray all of the interesting concepts that he introduced throughout the book The second appendix uses some rather technical mathematics to illustrate his ideas At a few places in the book especially with the philosophical topics the writing becomes a bit tedious and sometimes strays off topic But overall this is a marvelous book that is both entertaining and profound


  10. says:

    I sat on this review for a long time because this book bothered me I really disliked both the author and his work The writing is punchy blustery privileged and utterly without charm Taleb barely dips his toe into each topic before asserting that he has proven another point Antifragile is very weak on evidenceYou have to worry about an author that thinks he can vocalize an argument through Tony Soprano that defeats Socrates Further he is on Al Ghazali's side a Spanish Muslim who is the chief evil responsible for Islam falling from its tolerant golden age into its present dark age Big time warning bellsNo serious proof or consideration of counterexamples enters into a discussion of the superiority of city states over today's political arrangements Taleb argues that war is prevalent today for a couple of pages and considers the argument won something Steven Pinker argues against for 832 pages in Better Angels of our Nature He says that there were no dental cavities in the past; Jared Diamond says that primitive man often died because of dental issues Taleb calls the Code of Hammurabi advanced 381 Really? A code of laws that calls for the innocent son of a builder to be killed for the builder's shortcomings is advanced?He argues that in the medical world the iatrogenics of the last century is a detriment acting as if is he unaware of the vast improvements in real world medical results vaccines pregnancy related care life expectancy The uacks that Taleb loves so well have accomplished none of thisWhen Taleb thinks he is making an argument he is usually making a weak excuse instead of a legitimate point Often his arguments take the form of insults he often calls his opponents nerds he uses businessmen is a bad word he uses negative physical characteristics to describe opponents he likes to suggest that they are fat slobsI would not recommend this to anyone Don't read it