The black swan

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THE

B L A C K SWAN

The

I mpact

of

the

HIGHLY

IM

PROBABLE

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

U.S.A. $26.95
Canada $34.95

is a highly improbable event with three principal characteristics: It is unpre­ dictable; 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 astonishingsuccess of Google was a black swan; so was 9 / 1 1 . For Nassim Nicholas Taleb, black swans underlie almost everything about our world, from the rise of religions to events in our own personal lives.
A BLACK SWAN

Why do we not acknowledge the phenomenon of black swans until after they occur? Part of the answer, according to Taleb, is that humans are hardwired to learn specifics when they should befocused on generalities. We concentrate on things we already know and time and time again fail to take into consideration what we don't know. We are, therefore, unable to truly estimate oppor­ tunities, too vulnerable to the impulse to simplify, narrate, and categorize, and not open enough to rewarding those who can imagine the "impossible." For years, Taleb has studied how we fool our­ selves intothinking we know more than we actually do. We restrict our thinking to the irrelevant and inconsequential, while large events continue to surprise us and shape our world. Now, in this reve­ latory book, Taleb explains everything we know about what we don't know. He offers surprisingly simple tricks for dealing with black swans and ben­ efiting from them. Elegant, startling, and universal in itsapplica­ tions, The Black Swan will change the way you look at the world. Taleb is a vastly entertaining writer, with wit, irreverence, and unusual stories to tell. He has a polymathic command of subjects ranging from cognitive science to business to probability theory. The Black Swan is a landmark book—itself a black swan.

has devoted his life to immersing himself in problems of luck,uncertainty, probability, and knowledge. Part literary essayist, part empiricist, part no-nonsense mathematical trader, he is currently taking a break by serving as the Dean's Professor in the Sciences of Uncer­ tainty at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. His last book, the bestseller Fooled by Randomness, has been published in twenty lan­ guages. Taleb lives mostly in New York.
N A S S I MNICHOLAS TALEB

Jacket design: Thomas Beck Stvan Jacket art: £ Photodisk/Getty Images Join our nonfiction e-newsletter by visiting www.rh-newsletters.com Random House New York, N.Y. c 2007 by Random House, Inc.

Advance praise for The Black Swan
"A masterpiece."
—CHRIS ANDERSON,

editor in chief of Wired, author of The Long Tail "Recalls the best of scientist/essayists like Richard Dawkinsand Stephen Jay Gould." — M I C H A E L S C H R A G E , author of Serious Play "A beautifully reflective and opinionated book, illustrated with Calvinolike fables, about the inevitable failure of attempts to reduce the complex­ ity of the real world to simple black-and-white formulas."
— EMANUEL DERMAN,

author of My Life as a Quant "A fascinating and challenging critique . . . I thoroughlyenjoyed this remarkable author's outside-the-box mix of thought experiments, stories, and epistemology." —El) W A R I ) 0 . T H O R P , author of Beat the Dealer "Nassim Taleb challenges us, his readers, to be as fearless as he is in punc­ turing phony expertise. . . . Read this book."
— P H I L I P E. TETLOCK,

author of Expert Political

Judgment

"There's more about the ways of the realworld between the covers of The Black Swan than in the contents of a dozen libraries." — T O M P E T E R S , author of M Search of Excellence

Praise for Fooled by Randomness
"[Fooled by Randomness] is to conventional Wall Street wisdom approxi­ mately what Martin Luther's ninety-five theses were to the Catholic Church." — M A L C O L M G L A D W E L L , author of Blink "Fascinating . . . Taleb...
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