29+ quotes from The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Quotes from The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

Nassim Nicholas Taleb ·  366 pages

Rating: (63.1K votes)


“The writer Umberto Eco belongs to that small class of scholars who are encyclopedic, insightful, and nondull. He is the owner of a large personal library (containing thirty thousand books), and separates visitors into two categories: those who react with “Wow! Signore, professore dottore Eco, what a library you have ! How many of these books have you read?” and the others - a very small minority - who get the point that a private library is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you don’t know as your financial means, mortgage rates and the currently tight real-estate market allows you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menancingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable


“It has been more profitable for us to bind together in the wrong direction than to be alone in the right one. Those who have followed the assertive idiot rather than the introspective wise person have passed us some of their genes. This is apparent from a social pathology: psychopaths rally followers.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable


“Missing a train is only painful if you run after it! Likewise, not matching the idea of success others expect from you is only painful if that’s what you are seeking.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable


“When you develop your opinions on the basis of weak evidence, you will have difficulty interpreting subsequent information that contradicts these opinions, even if this new information is obviously more accurate.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable


“Remember that you are a Black Swan.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable


“It is my great hope someday, to see science and decision makers rediscover what the ancients have always known. Namely that our highest currency is respect.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable


“If you hear a "prominent" economist using the word 'equilibrium,' or 'normal distribution,' do not argue with him; just ignore him, or try to put a rat down his shirt.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable


“We tend to use knowledge as therapy.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable


“Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means, mortgage rates, and the currently tight real-estate market alow you to put there.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable


“The problem with experts is that they do not know what they do not know”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable


“The inability to predict outliers implies the inability to predict the course of history”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable


“I will repeat the following until I am hoarse: it is contagion that determines the fate of a theory in social science, not its validity.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable


“Categorizing is necessary for humans, but it becomes pathological when the category is seen as definitive, preventing people from considering the fuzziness of boundaries,”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable


“Ideas come and go, stories stay.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable


“If you survive until tomorrow, it could mean that either a) you are more likely to be immortal or b) that you are closer to death.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable


“Believe me, it is tough to deal with the social consequences of the appearance of continuous failure. We are social animals; hell is other people.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable


“The strategy for the discoverers and entrepreneurs is to rely less on top-down planning and focus on maximum tinkering and recognizing opportunities when they present themselves. So I disagree with the followers of Marx and those of Adam Smith: the reason free markets work is because they allow people to be lucky, thanks to aggressive trial and error, not by giving rewards or “incentives” for skill. The strategy is, then, to tinker as much as possible and try to collect as many Black Swan opportunities as you can.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable


“Prediction, not narration, is the real test of our understanding of the world.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable


“I propose that if you want a simple step to a higher form of life, as distant from the animal as you can get, then you may have to denarrate, that is, shut down the television set, minimize time spent reading newspapers, ignore the blogs. Train your reasoning abilities to control your decisions; nudge System 1 (the heuristic or experiential system) out of the important ones. Train yourself to spot the difference between the sensational and the empirical. This insulation from the toxicity of the world will have an additional benefit: it will improve your well-being.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable


“If you want to get an idea of a friend's temperament, ethics, and personal elegance, you need to look at him under the tests of severe circumstances, not under the regular rosy glow of daily life.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable


“Consider a turkey that is fed every day. Every single feeding will firm up the bird’s belief that it is the general rule of life to be fed every day by friendly members of the human race “looking out for its best interests,” as a politician would say. On the afternoon of the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, something unexpected will happen to the turkey. It will incur a revision of belief.*”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable


“. . . the world in which we live has an increasing number of feedback loops, causing events to be the cause of more events (say, people buy a book because other people bought it), thus generating snowballs and arbitrary and unpredictable planet-wide winner-take-all effects.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable


“You need a story to displace a story.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable


“This idea that in order to make a decision you need to focus on the consequences (which you can know) rather than the probability (which you can’t know) is the central idea of uncertainty.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable


“Humans will believe anything you say provided you do not exhibit the smallest shadow of diffidence; like animals, they can detect the smallest crack in your confidence before you express it. The trick is to be as smooth as possible in personal manners. It is much easier to signal self-confidence if you are exceedingly polite and friendly; you can control people without having to offend their sensitivity.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable


“I don’t run for trains.” Snub your destiny. I have taught myself to resist running to keep on schedule. This may seem a very small piece of advice, but it registered. In refusing to run to catch trains, I have felt the true value of elegance and aesthetics in behavior, a sense of being in control of my time, my schedule, and my life. Missing a train is only painful if you run after it! Likewise, not matching the idea of success others expect from you is only painful if that’s what you are seeking. You stand above the rat race and the pecking order, not outside of it, if you do so by choice.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable


“I use the example as computed by the mathematician Michael Berry. If you know a set of basic parameters concerning the ball at rest, can compute the resistance of the table (quite elementary), and can gauge the strength of the impact, then it is rather easy to predict what would happen at the first hit. The second impact becomes more complicated, but possible; you need to be more careful about your knowledge of the initial states, and more precision is called for. The problem is that to correctly predict the ninth impact, you need to take into account the gravitational pull of someone standing next to the table (modestly, Berry's computations use a weight of less than 150 pounds). And to compute the fifty-sixth impact, every single elementary particle of the universe needs to be present in your assumptions!”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable


“You can afford to be compassionate, lax, and courteous if, once in a while, when it is least expected of you, but completely justified, you sue someone, or savage an enemy, just to show that you can walk the walk.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable


“We are quick to forget that just being alive is an extraordinary piece of good luck, a remote event, a chance occurrence of monstrous proportions.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, quote from The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable


About the author

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

Popular quotes

“You happened to me," she told him, her voice more fatigued than embittered. "You came out of a grubby sixth-rate farm on a tenth-rate planet, and destroyed my life." - Mara Jade”
― Timothy Zahn, quote from Heir to the Empire


“A good plan isn't one where someone wins, it's where nobody thinks they've lost.”
― Terry Pratchett, quote from The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents


“You idiot!" She spat, flattening her ears. "What are you doing in my territory?"
"Drowning?" Replied Graystripe.
"Can't you do that in your own territory?"
"Ah, but who would rescue me there?”
― Erin Hunter, quote from Fire and Ice


“She had never seen anyone like him before in her life. The clothes he wore, the sound of his voice, the expression in his eys, all made her feel that she had had z moomentary glimpse into another world - and she longed passionately to see it again, if only for a brief while.”
― Kathleen Winsor, quote from Forever Amber


“if you think that a man who is any good at all should take into account the risk of life or death; he should look to this only in his action, whether what he does is right or wrong, whether he is acting life a good or a bad man.”
― Plato, quote from The Trial and Death of Socrates


Interesting books

The Agony and the Ecstasy
(67.8K)
The Agony and the Ec...
by Irving Stone
Opal
(104.7K)
Opal
by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Nausea
(65.6K)
Nausea
by Jean-Paul Sartre
The Two Towers
(562.8K)
The Two Towers
by J.R.R. Tolkien
Christy
(43.5K)
Christy
by Catherine Marshall
The Wedding
(127.5K)
The Wedding
by Nicholas Sparks

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.