Thursday, March 19, 2009

Fooled By Randomness - Nissim Nicholas Taleb

Quite loved this one. nn had bought it and recommended it highly, but I'd been resisting reading it, thinking it would be on the lines of freakonomics/tipping point/undercover economist. Not that I didn't like those, but I somehow didn't think I could take in anything related to economics, no matter how well hidden. It was finally started after a strong reco at work from one of the visiting colleagues.

So what a surprise this one turned out to be! Perhaps more than anything because it summarised so well many of my own credos in life. Its not so much just about " the hidden role of chance in life and in the markets" as the cover states. Its also about the acknowledgement of the fallibility of so called "human rationality". And perhaps the most important thing - the recognition of the fallibility.

Some of the things i loved:
- The whole reading too much into a thing-creating theories to fit facts, when one should be able to see that the facts could just as well be random.
- How happiness and the concept of success / achievement is mostly relative. Relative to something else.
- Alternative histories - how easily we forget these!
- The whole bit about comparing markets to the urn with red and black balls. Something I've always felt very instinctively, and been completely unable to explain to anyone, given my total lack of knowledge of them.
- The bit about OJ Simpson, again something I've often been flabbergasted to see in courtroom drama serials/movies/books. How can people forget to multiply probabilities?

Shall reread it some time later. Its that kind of book!


Guruprasad Kini (Guru) said...

Can't wait to start this one. I seem to be hooked such non-fiction. Who would have imagined :|?

Tess said...

hmm.. too bad you didn't like it eventually :)