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

Nassim Nicholas Taleb ·  368 pages

Rating: (35.2K votes)


“Heroes are heroes because they are heroic in behavior, not because they won or lost.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets


“Reality is far more vicious than Russian roulette. First, it delivers the fatal bullet rather infrequently, like a revolver that would have hundreds, even thousands of chambers instead of six. After a few dozen tries, one forgets about the existence of a bullet, under a numbing false sense of security. Second, unlike a well-defined precise game like Russian roulette, where the risks are visible to anyone capable of multiplying and dividing by six, one does not observe the barrel of reality. One is capable of unwittingly playing Russian roulette - and calling it by some alternative “low risk” game.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets


“Probability is not a mere computation of odds on the dice or more complicated variants; it is the acceptance of the lack of certainty in our knowledge and the development of methods for dealing with our ignorance.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets


“Those who were unlucky in life in spite of their skills would eventually rise. The lucky fool might have benefited from some luck in life; over the longer run he would slowly converge to the state of a less-lucky idiot. Each one would revert to his long-term properties.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets


“Never ask a man if he is from Sparta: If he were, he would have let you know such an important fact - and if he were not, you could hurt his feelings.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets


“A mistake is not something to be determined after the fact, but in light of the information available until that point”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets


“We favor the visible, the embedded, the personal, the narrated, and the tangible; we scorn the abstract.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets


“No matter how sophisticated our choices, how good we are at dominating the odds, randomness will have the last word.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets


“When things go our way we reject the lack of certainty.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets


“The observation of the numerous misfortunes that attend all conditions forbids us to grow insolent upon our present enjoyments, or to admire a man's happiness that may yet, in course of time, suffer change. For the uncertain future has yet to come, with all variety of future; and to him only to whom the divinity has [guaranteed] continued happiness until the end we may call happy.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets


“If the past, by bringing surprises, did not resemble the past previous to it (what I call the past's past), then why should our future resemble our current past?”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets


“My lesson from Soros is to start every meeting at my boutique by convincing everyone that we are a bunch of idiots who know nothing and are mistake-prone, but happen to be endowed with the rare privilege of knowing it.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets


“Bullish or bearish are terms used by people who do not engage in practicing uncertainty, like the television commentators, or those who have no experience in handling risk. Alas, investors and businesses are not paid in probabilities; they are paid in dollars. Accordingly, it is not how likely an event is to happen that matters, it is how much is made when it happens that should be the consideration.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets


“There is asymmetry. Those who die do so very early in the game, while those who live go on living very long. Whenever there is asymmetry in outcomes, the average survival has nothing to do with the median survival.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets


“Mathematics is principally a tool to meditate, rather than to compute.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets


“Too much success is the enemy, too much failure is demoralizing.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets


“Mild success can be explainable by skills and labor. Wild success is attributable to variance.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets


“The epiphany I had in my career in randomness came when I understood that I was not intelligent enough, nor strong enough, to even try to fight my emotions.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets


“I will set aside the point that I see no special heroism in accumulating money, particularly if, in addition, the person is foolish enough to not even try to derive any tangible benefit from the wealth (aside from the pleasure of regularly counting the beans).”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets


“People do not realize that the media is paid to get your attention. For a journalist, silence rarely surpasses any word.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets


“Clearly, an open mind is a necessity when dealing with randomness. Popper believed that any idea of Utopia is necessarily closed owing to the fact that it chokes its own refutations. The simple notion of a good model for society that cannot be left open for falsification is totalitarian. I learned from Popper, in addition to the difference between an open and a closed society, that between an open and a closed mind.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets


“This high-yield market resembles a nap on a railway track.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets


“Realism is punishing. Probabilistic skepticism is worse.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets


“One conceivable way to discriminate between a scientific intellectual and a literary intellectual is by considering that a scientific intellectual can usually recognize the writing of another but that the literary intellectual would not be able to tell the difference between lines jotted down by a scientist and those by a glib nonscientist. This is even more apparent when the literary intellectual starts using scientific buzzwords, like “uncertainty principle,” “Godel’s theorem,” “parallel universe,” or “relativity,” either out of context or, as often, in exact opposition to the scientific meaning. I suggest reading the hilarious Fashionable Nonsense by Alan Sokal for an illustration of such practice (I was laughing so loudly and so frequently while reading it on a plane that other passengers kept whispering things about me).”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets


“It certainly takes bravery to remain skeptical; it takes inordinate courage to introspect, to confront oneself, to accept one's limitations--Scientists are seeing more and more evidence that we are specifically designed by mother nature to fool ourselves.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets


“There is a simple test to define path dependence of beliefs (economists have a manifestation of it called the endowment effect). Say you own a painting you bought for $20,000, and owing to rosy conditions in the art market, it is now worth $40,000. If you owned no painting, would you still acquire it at the current price? If you would not, then you are said to be married to your position. There is no rational reason to keep a painting you would not buy at its current market rate—only an emotional investment. Many people get married to their ideas all the way to the grave. Beliefs are said to be path dependent if the sequence of ideas is such that the first one dominates.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets


“Many amateurs believe that plants and animals reproduce on a one-way route toward perfection. Translating the idea in social terms, they believe that companies and organizations are, thanks to competition (and the discipline of the quarterly report), irreversibly heading toward betterment. The strongest will survive; the weakest will become extinct. As to investors and traders, they believe that by letting them compete, the best will prosper and the worst will go learn a new craft (like pumping gas or, sometimes, dentistry). Things are not as simple as that. We will ignore the basic misuse of Darwinian ideas in the fact that organizations do not reproduce like living members of nature—Darwinian ideas are about reproductive fitness, not about survival.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets


“we are not made to view things as independent from each other. When viewing two events A and B, it is hard not to assume that A causes B, B causes A, or both cause each other. Our bias is immediately to establish a causal link.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets


“Veteran trader Marty O’Connell calls this the firehouse effect. He had observed that firemen with much downtime who talk to each other for too long come to agree on many things that an outside, impartial observer would find ludicrous (they develop political ideas that are very similar). Psychologists give it a fancier name, but my friend Marty has no training in behavioral sciences.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets


“The formation of our beliefs is fraught with superstitions—even today (I might say, especially today). Just as one day some primitive tribesman scratched his nose, saw rain falling, and developed an elaborate method of scratching his nose to bring on the much-needed rain, we link economic prosperity to some rate cut by the Federal Reserve Board, or the success of a company with the appointment of the new president “at the helm.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets


About the author

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Born place: in Amioun, Lebanon
See more on GoodReads

Popular quotes

“And how many hours a day did you do lessons?' said Alice, in a hurry to change the subject.
Ten hours the first day,' said the Mock Turtle: 'nine the next, and so on.'
What a curious plan!' exclaimed Alice.
That's the reason they're called lessons,' the Gryphon remarked: 'because they lessen from day to day.”
― Lewis Carroll, quote from The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition


“Let us have gardens, then, and other public places where we may see our friends, and parade our vanities, if you will, before the eyes of the world. Did you ever know anyone who was not delighted with a garden?" - John Sanderson”
― David McCullough, quote from The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris


“Am I invited to this movie night,” Sam interrupted to say, “or were you planning to ignore me sitting right here?” “The ignore one,” Inés answered, quick as a shot. “My heart is broken.” “I bleed for you.” “Cruel.” “It wasn’t my best effort.”
― Nalini Singh, quote from Tangle of Need


“Puede que suene estúpido si digo que su apariencia era de otro mundo, pero es que ella era de otro mundo. Peor aún, suena presuntuoso, ¿no es cierto? Presupone que sé todo lo que es de este mundo, y por ello puedo reconocer cualquier cosa que no lo sea. Por supuesto, no es así. Pero ésa es la impresión que ella dejó en mí.t”
― Caitlín R. Kiernan, quote from The Drowning Girl


“Hear that, Eustace? He wishes we were staying a good long time."
"I expect it will seem a good long time," said Eustace, philosophically.”
― P.G. Wodehouse, quote from The Inimitable Jeeves


Interesting books

Midnight Alias
(2.2K)
Midnight Alias
by Elle Kennedy
Raging Star
(7.3K)
Raging Star
by Moira Young
Tempted
(8.2K)
Tempted
by Megan Hart
The Keatyn Chronicles: Books 1-3
(1K)
The Keatyn Chronicle...
by Jillian Dodd
Marked
(3.9K)
Marked
by Rebecca Zanetti
We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity
(755)
We Real Cool: Black...
by bell hooks

About BookQuoters

BookQuoters is a community of passionate readers who enjoy sharing the most meaningful, memorable and interesting quotes from great books. As the world communicates more and more via texts, memes and sound bytes, short but profound quotes from books have become more relevant and important. For some of us a quote becomes a mantra, a goal or a philosophy by which we live. For all of us, quotes are a great way to remember a book and to carry with us the author’s best ideas.

We thoughtfully gather quotes from our favorite books, both classic and current, and choose the ones that are most thought-provoking. Each quote represents a book that is interesting, well written and has potential to enhance the reader’s life. We also accept submissions from our visitors and will select the quotes we feel are most appealing to the BookQuoters community.

Founded in 2018, BookQuoters has quickly become a large and vibrant community of people who share an affinity for books. Books are seen by some as a throwback to a previous world; conversely, gleaning the main ideas of a book via a quote or a quick summary is typical of the Information Age but is a habit disdained by some diehard readers. We feel that we have the best of both worlds at BookQuoters; we read books cover-to-cover but offer you some of the highlights. We hope you’ll join us.