- Series: Incerto (Book 3)
- Paperback: 544 pages
- Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (January 28, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0812979680
- ISBN-13: 978-0812979688
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.1 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,068 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,129 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder (Incerto) Paperback – January 28, 2014
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, December 2012: Fragile things break under stress. But, according to Nassim Nicholas Taleb, there's an entire class of other things that don't simply resist stress but actually grow, strengthen, or otherwise gain from unforeseen and otherwise unwelcome stimuli. Taleb sees degrees of antifragility everywhere, from fasting, mythology, and urban planning to economic, technological, cultural, and biological systems. The wealth of radical thinking in this book astounds; the glossary alone offered more thought-provoking ideas than any other nonfiction book I read this year. That said, Antifragile is far from flawless. As comical as Taleb's rough handling of his favorite targets can be--academics, economists, and tourists, to name a few--his argumentative style boasts gaping holes, non sequiturs aplenty, and at times an almost willfully repugnant tone. Some readers will find Taleb's brashness off-putting; others will embrace it as a charismatic component of the ideas themselves. Either way, no one will finish this book unchanged. --Jason Kirk
Judging by his anecdotes, Taleb interacts with the economic masters of the universe as he jets from New York to London or attends business-politics confabs in Davos, Switzerland. Anything but awed by them, Taleb regards them as charlatans, not as credible experts. Such skepticism toward elites, which imbued Taleb’s The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (2007), continues in this work, which grapples with a concept Taleb coins as “antifragile.” Not readily reducible to a definition (Taleb takes the whole book to develop the idea), suffice to say here that antifragile’s opposites—economic, political, or medical systems that are vulnerable to sudden collapse—tend to be managed by highly educated people who think they know how systems work. But they don’t, avers Taleb. Their confidence in control is illusory; their actions harm rather than help. In contrast, Taleb views decentralized systems—the entrepreneurial business rather than the bureaucratized corporation, the local rather than the central government—as more adaptable to systemic stresses. Emphatic in his style and convictions, Taleb grabs readers given to musing how the world works. --Gilbert Taylor
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You won't agree with everything in this work, but the open minded will find it highly stimulating, even inspiring--a work of tremendous sweep and power.
When looked thru the lens of abstract blindness, one realizes that the bombers that did not return were the ones with holes in them that no one could see. This dove tails into the Antifragile's frequent reminder that absence of evidence (of harm), is not the same as evidence of absence -- meaning (in my view) just because there is 30 years of data that says it has never happened before does not mean it will not happen. This is the turkey's view prior to Thanksgiving Day problem - from Black Swan.
As for Seneca's Asymmetry, if you have more to lose than benefit from fate then you are fragile. Seneca's practical counter to being fragile was to go through mental exercises to write off possessions, so when losses occurred he would not feel the sting. And also use a barbell approach meaning keep the extremes on the ends and therefore avoidance is in the middle. This fine book also has a considerable amount of discussions on health matters that range from Hormesis (think vaccines), medications that we don't need, your private doctor may be your worst enemy, non-linear activity (anti-marathon training), and much more.
If you consider this the 3rd book in the series of Fooled By Randomness and Black Swan, then the Trilogy Was Worth The Wait. All in a worthy book for either the philosopher's, reader's, or investor's book shelf - along with the a few below.
Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Halo Effect),
The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Economic Game Changer),
Ubiquity: Why Catastrophes Happen by Mark Buchanan (Power Laws),
The (Mis)behavior of Markets by Benoit Mandelbrot (A Fractal View of Risk).
Disclosure: I received a free advance copy prior to publication.
Nassim Taleb is a man with strong views on just about everything. He writes a good book. Antifragile is a more personal narrative than his earlier "Black Swan". It is filled with personal examples of what he considers is the proper way to live a life that is in harmony with a volatile and unpredictable world.
In "Antifragile" he presents a consistent contrary or at least an anti-mainstream view of what most would accept as reality. He views the world as a complex adaptive system in which "Black Swans" or unanticipated and unanticipatable events have disruptive effects quantitatively inversely proportionate to their frequency. His views are in tune with Kahneman's in that he sees unpredictability as normal and positive for any system worth having. These `antifragile' systems are not simply robust and able to withstand adversity, they are those that improve by adapting to shocks.
He values `the man in the arena', he who seeks reward with exposure to risk and scorns those who risk others but not themselves. He favors the cab driver over the bank clerk as the latter has sacrificed flexibility and the ability to adapt to change in exchange for a theoretically stable but actually more fragile position.
He dislikes what he considers senseless intervention-what Kahneman sees as the ingrained need to do something-especially in medicine where the legal system favors potentially harmful but defensible action over inaction.
Overall this book is more about life than volatility, but with his other books , especially "Fooled By Randomness" and "The Black Swan" presents a complete view of the importance of viewing existence as a complex adaptive system.
The books bibliography is extensive and useful. Taleb quotes Machiavelli by way of Rousseau in saying `what makes the species prosper isn't peace, but freedom', which also sounds a lot like the message of Acemoglu and Robinson in "Why Nations Fail" and what do you know, there it is in the bibliography.