Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets

Front Cover
Random House Publishing Group, Aug 23, 2005 - Business & Economics - 368 pages
Fooled by Randomness is a standalone book in Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s landmark Incerto series, an investigation of opacity, luck, uncertainty, probability, human error, risk, and decision-making in a world we don’t understand. The other books in the series are The Black Swan, Antifragile, Skin in the Game, and The Bed of Procrustes.

Fooled by Randomness is the word-of-mouth sensation that will change the way you think about business and the world. Nassim Nicholas Taleb–veteran trader, renowned risk expert, polymathic scholar, erudite raconteur, and New York Times bestselling author of The Black Swan–has written a modern classic that turns on its head what we believe about luck and skill.

This book is about luck–or more precisely, about how we perceive and deal with luck in life and business. Set against the backdrop of the most conspicuous forum in which luck is mistaken for skill–the world of trading–Fooled by Randomness provides captivating insight into one of the least understood factors in all our lives. Writing in an entertaining narrative style, the author tackles major intellectual issues related to the underestimation of the influence of happenstance on our lives.

The book is populated with an array of characters, some of whom have grasped, in their own way, the significance of chance: the baseball legend Yogi Berra; the philosopher of knowledge Karl Popper; the ancient world’s wisest man, Solon; the modern financier George Soros; and the Greek voyager Odysseus. We also meet the fictional Nero, who seems to understand the role of randomness in his professional life but falls victim to his own superstitious foolishness.

However, the most recognizable character of all remains unnamed–the lucky fool who happens to be in the right place at the right time–he embodies the “survival of the least fit.” Such individuals attract devoted followers who believe in their guru’s insights and methods. But no one can replicate what is obtained by chance.

Are we capable of distinguishing the fortunate charlatan from the genuine visionary? Must we always try to uncover nonexistent messages in random events? It may be impossible to guard ourselves against the vagaries of the goddess Fortuna, but after reading Fooled by Randomness we can be a little better prepared.

Named by Fortune One of the Smartest Books of All Time

A Financial Times Best Business Book of the Year
 

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
14
4 stars
15
3 stars
8
2 stars
3
1 star
2

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Paul_S - LibraryThing

Not what it purports to be, it's mostly autobiographical in nature. Some self-aggrandizement is fine given his job but the book is also full of cheap digs at his colleagues and since I don't really ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ffortsa - LibraryThing

I think I picked this up from our building's swap shelves. It's an advance uncorrected proof, and wow does it need corrections. I hope a copy editor and/or the author got hold of this in galley and ... Read full review

Contents

Chapter Summaries
xxxv
PART I SOLONS WARNING
xlvi
T DEPENDS ON THE NUMBER OF MONKEYS
136
Nine IT IS EASIER TO BUY AND SELL
149
AM NOT SO NT ELLIGENT 22 2
223
ON PROBABILITY
234
Fourteen BAC CHUS ABAND ONS ANTONY
245
Postscript THREE AFTER THOUGHTS IN
253
Acknowledgments for the First Edition
263
Notes
269
References
293
Index
307
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2005)

Nassim Nicholas Taleb has devoted his life to problems of uncertainty, probability, and knowledge. He spent nearly two decades as a businessman and quantitative trader before becoming a full-time philosophical essayist and academic researcher in 2006. Although he spends most of his time in the intense seclusion of his study, or as a flâneur meditating in cafés, he is currently Distinguished Professor of Risk Engineering at New York University’s Polytechnic Institute. His main subject matter is “decision making under opacity”—that is, a map and a protocol on how we should live in a world we don’t understand.
 
Taleb’s books have been published in forty-one languages.

Bibliographic information