Things That Gain From Disorder

Book - 2012
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Taleb takes a next big step with a deceptively simple concept: the "antifragile." Like the Greek hydra that grows two heads for each one it loses, people, systems, and institutions that are antifragile not only withstand shocks, they benefit from them. In a modern world dominated by chaos and uncertainty, Antifragile is a revolutionary vision from one of the most subversive and important thinkers of our time.
Publisher: New York : Random House, c2012
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781400067824
Branch Call Number: 003.54 T14a
Characteristics: xxi, 519 p. : ill. ; 25 cm


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Jan 30, 2018

If you want to feel better about the (calculated) risks you take in life read this book. It can be quite technical at times but there is usually a disclaimer and sometimes an encouragement to skip over these technical sections.

The philosophical arguments are very difficult to ignore and the examples he uses for his arguments are concise and well researched.

The ending to the book was satisfying because "every sentence in the book [is] a derivation, an application, or an interpretation" of fragility.

Nov 24, 2016

The various reviews that have been posted reveal a fascinating breadth of separation; readers either embrace Taleb's argument wholeheartedly as breakthrough thinking and brilliant insight -- or they condemn the entire book as outrageously pretentious nonsense; there seems to be little or no middle ground. My take on all that is that it should probably be regarded as quite a valuable piece of philosophic discourse, the point of philosophy surely being a contest of ideas.
I found Taleb's central premise quite engaging and hard to challenge -- as far as it goes. The idea that subjecting organisms and those systems composed of organisms to stress makes them stronger, whereas inanimate things are weakened by stress is pretty hard to refute, and surely not a revolutionary insight. My quibble begins when Taleb (I believe) runs afoul of a notion that he himself espouses, that of non-linearity: He proceeds to extrapolate his model of how things work (or fail) beyond all rational limits, seemingly choosing to ignore the fact that the reliability of any prediction diminishes geometrically with the degree to which it is extrapolated.
Despite all of that (and Taleb's tendency to decorate his text with rambling references that add bulk without strengthening the argument) and despite my lifelong adherence to the ideas of people like Joseph Juran who abhorred entropy and spent his life attacking it as the enemy of progress, I still found this book a highly absorbing read.

Jun 22, 2016

I especially enjoyed the commenter below, libraries_are_fun.
Taleb provides a cognitive feast for the mind, an exhausting read, but well worth the effort.
I recall with great mirth that in 2008, on the Koch brothers' financed show, The Takeaway [on NPR, most of which is also Koch brothers' financed], Prof. Taleb exclaimed: // The bankers have taken over the White House! \\ I believe that was the last time they had him on that show!
A cerebral nine-course meal, fit for an empress or emperor!
[And pay CLOSE attention to his comment on Gerard Karsenty's paper!]

Apr 08, 2015

5 Stars for a book that is full of petty insults, leaps of logic, and an unpleasant and arrogant author who dishes out self-serving comments? Yup. This book has made me so happy. I did not understand how everyone around me could be so confident and secure when I thought everything was going to hell in a hand-basket, even before 2008. Now I know: they were all delusional. Thanks, Taleb, for your amazing and mind-bending insights, and for your attempts to come up with solutions to our fragility.
One thing: this is not a quick and easy read.

Oct 28, 2014

I'm pretty sure there's a brilliant book hiding in here. But I'm unwilling to wade through the asides and 'cleverness' to mentally edit this down to what it could be. So much for immortal fame!

AnarchyintheLC Jun 06, 2014

The central idea of this book is very interesting, but it was almost unreadable because of Taleb's constant sniping at academics and other professionals (often in very petty ways, such as describing someone as "pear-shaped" in the middle of a retelling of an argument for no apparent reason).

Personally, I find him unbearable.

The concept of antifragility is very interesting, and some of his basic descriptions and strategies are useful, but the bulk of this book is Taleb talking about how smart he is in a way that lacks any subtlety or grace.

Jan 08, 2014

An most interesting read, especially if I could have understood all of it. I found it a bit of "heavy go" to read, but also fascinating. Just the same, I think Taleb could have got his point across in 25% less pages.

Feb 10, 2013

See "Foucaults Pendalum", Umberto Eco writes much the same....detailed honing in on mundane topical ideas.

Uncertainty is the game, education is not good, and its good, big companies are good, and are not good, these seems the pattern Taleb gets down and mean with his education assertions...... The real surprise is in learning the historicity of the industrial revolution as being not a result of scientists, but as a result perhaps of those with lots of liesure time. Prescient for our times where 'liesure time" is equated with laziness, not insight and genius as of old. There seems an agenda, and its very complex to unravel. Compexities where there should be none. Ho Joon Chang is a radical economist, no he is not.!! I would warn this book is not all it seems. Barbs here and there, and no real historical content, excepting for the 'industrial revelution as having some innnovators. After reflection, my feeling is, its a waste of time.

Dec 31, 2012

Unlike his prior two best sellers on economics, "Fooled by Randomness" and "Black Swan", Antifragile is more like a collection of philosophical social science essays on the difference between "Fragile - Please Handle with Care" and "Antifragile - Please Mishandle" (two ends of a bar-bell or the tails of a "normal" distribution of black swan events. While you may not agree with some of Taleb's "insights", it is nonetheless filled with many interesting views that are worthy for readers to ponder. The "glossary" and "additional notes, afterthoughts and further reading" included in the end of the book are great for "food for thoughts". (Tabeb appears to have contradicted himself that he detested writing op/eds but yet he has just written one published in NY Times on 12/24/2012 )

Dec 16, 2012

"The Vancouver Sun" of December 15, 2012 included "Antifragile" in its list of 'intriguing reads from the world of business'. "Taleb seemed almost prescient with his 2007 [book] 'The Black Swan' about how economies are more likely to be disrupted by big, unexpected events that we later try to explain away. By extension, his followup offering ['Antifragile'] theorizes that successful economic systems will be ones that are resilient to shocks and volatility - not those that seek to keep chaos at bay.'


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AnarchyintheLC Jun 06, 2014

I want to live happily in a world I don't understand.

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