Famous Quotes & Sayings

Nassim Nicholas Taleb Quotes & Sayings

Enjoy the top 100 famous quotes, sayings and quotations by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

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Nassim Nicholas Taleb Quotes 1147043

Our brain is not cut out for nonlinearities. People think that if, say, two variables are causally linked, then a steady input in one variable should always yield a result in the other one. Our emotional apparatus is designed for linear causality. For — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Statin drugs are meant to lower cholesterol in your blood. But there is an asymmetry, and a severe one. One needs to treat fifty high risk persons for five years to avoid a single cardiovascular event. Statins can potentially harm people who are not very sick, for whom the benefits are either minimal or totally nonexistent. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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I suggest this passage from the German "philosopher" (this passage was detected, translated, and reviled by Karl Popper): Sound is the change in the specific condition of segregation of the material parts, and in the negation of this condition; merely an abstract or an ideal ideality, as it were, of that specification. But this change, accordingly, is itself immediately the negation of the material specific subsistence; which is, therefore, real ideality of specific gravity and cohesion, i.e. - heat. The heating up of sounding bodies, just as of beaten and or rubbed ones, is the appearance of heat, originating conceptually together with sound. Even a Monte Carlo engine could not sound as random as the great philosophical master thinker (it would take plenty of sample runs to get the mixture of "heat" and "sound." People call that philosophy and frequently finance it with taxpayer subsidies! — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Organisms need, to use the metaphor of Marcus Aurelius, to turn obstacles into fuel - just as fire does. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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We build toys. Some of those toys change the world. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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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

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Scientists don't know what they are talking about when they talk about religion. Religion has nothing to do with belief, and I don't believe it has any negative impact on people's lives outside of intolerance. Why do I go to church? It's like asking, why did you marry that woman? You make up reasons, but it's probably just smell. I love the smell of candles. It's an aesthetic thing. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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The French writer Edmond About, who visited Greece in 1832, a dozen years after its independence, reports how peasants struggled with the metric system as it was completely unnatural to them and stuck to Ottoman standards instead. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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The excess energy released from overreaction to setbacks is what innovates! — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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If you want to annoy a poet, explain his poetry. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Scepticism is effortful and costly. It is better to be sceptical about matters of large consequences, and be imperfect, foolish and human in the small and the aesthetic. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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for decades doctors never suspected that this "useless" tissue might actually have a use that escaped their detection. The — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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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

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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

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My principle activity is to tease those who take themselves and the quality of their knowledge too seriously. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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The tragedy of virtue is that the more obvious, boring, unoriginal, and sermonizing the proverb, the harder it is to implement. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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They are born, put in a box; they go home to live in a box; they study by ticking boxes; they go to what is called "work" in a box, where they sit in their cubicle box; they drive to the grocery store in a box to buy food in a box; they talk about thinking "outside the box"; and when they die they are put in a box. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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We can control a function of x, f(x), even if x remains vastly beyond our understanding. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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You know, children philosophize more than adults - and they are critical of adults. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Sometimes people ask you a question with their eyes begging you to not tell them the truth. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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You don't become completely free by just avoiding being a slave; you also need to avoid becoming a master. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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If I ask you to write down the last 4 digits of your social security number, and then take you out to lunch and ask you how many dentists there are in Manhattan, there's going to be a high correlation between those two numbers. What happens is that the number psychologically makes you feel confident. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Many people keep deploring the low level of formal education in the United states (as defined by, say, math grades). Yet these fail to realize that the new comes from here and gets imitated elsewhere. And it is not thanks to universities, which obviously claim a lot more credit than their accomplishments warrant. Like Britain in the Industrial Revolution, America's asset is, simply, risk taking and the use of optionality, this remarkable ability to engage in rational forms fo trial and error, with no comparative shame in failing again, starting again, and repeating failure. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Michelangelo was asked by the pope about the secret of his genius, particularly how he carved the statue of David, largely considered the masterpiece of all masterpieces. His answer was: "It's simple. I just remove everything that is not David. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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(J)ust as we tend to underestimate the role of luck in life in general, we tend to overestimate it in games of chance. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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The worst side effect of wealth is the social associations it forces on its victims, as people with big houses end up socializing with other people with big houses. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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What he likes most about proprietary trading is that it requires considerably less time than other high-paying professions; in other words it is perfectly compatible with his non-middle-class work ethic. Trading forces someone to think hard; those who merely work hard generally lose their focus and intellectual energy. In addition, they end up drowning in randomness; work ethics, Nero believes, draw people to focus on noise rather than the signal — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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The key to wealth is that it doesn't matter. Once you've had it, you don't think anything of it; you can wear cheap watches. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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More data means more information, but it also means more false information. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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To understand how something works, figure out how to break it. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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An idea starts to be interesting when you get scared of taking it to its logical conclusion. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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The classical man's worst fear was inglorious death; the modern man's worst fear is just death — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Marketing is bad manners - and I rely on my naturalistic and ecological instincts. Say you run into a person during a boat cruise. What would you do if he started boasting of his accomplishments, telling you how great, rich, tall, impressive, skilled, famous, muscular, well educated, efficient, and good in bed he is, plus other attributes? You would certainly run away (or put him in contact with another talkative bore to get rid of both of them). It is clearly much better if others (preferably someone other than his mother) are the ones saying good things about him, and it would be nice if he acted with some personal humility. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Modernity widened the distance between the sensational and the relevant. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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But promoting philosophical skepticism is not quite the mission of this book. If awareness of the Black Swan problem can lead us into withdrawal and extreme skepticism, I take here the exact opposite direction. I am interested in deeds and true empiricism. So, this book was not written by a Sufi mystic, or even by a skeptic in the ancient or medieval sense, or even (we will see) in a philosophical sense, but by a practitioner whose principal aim is not to be a sucker in things that matter, period. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Never trust a journalist unless she's your mother. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Is the most antifragile place on the planet; it benefits from shocks that take place in the rest of the world. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Black Swans and tail events run the socioeconomic world — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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The answer is that there are two varieties of rare events: a) the narrated Black Swans, those that are present in the current discourse and that you are likely to hear about on television, and b) those nobody talks about, since they escape models - those that you would feel ashamed discussing in public because they do not seem plausible. I — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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We said that mere judgment would probably suffice in a primitive society. It is easy for a society to live without mathematics - — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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[T]he worst thing one can do to feel one knows things a bit deeper is to try to go into them a bit deeper. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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We favor the sensational and the extremely visible. This affects the way we judge heroes. There is little room in our consciousness for heroes who do not deliver visible results - or those heroes who focus on process rather than results. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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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

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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

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History is opaque. You see what comes out, not the script that produces events, [ ... ] The generator of historical events is different from the events themselves, much as the minds of the gods cannot be read just by witnessing their deeds. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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The problem is that our ideas are sticky: once we produce a theory, we are not likely to change our minds ... — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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My dream - the solution - is that we would have a National Entrepreneur Day, with the following message: Most of you will fail, disrespected, impoverished, but we are grateful for the risks you are taking and the sacrifices you are making for the sake of the economic growth of the planet and pulling others out of poverty. You are at the source of our antifragility. Our nation thanks you. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Poverty is clearly one source of emotional suffering, but there are others, like loneliness. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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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

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I lift heavy weights and sprint, but I am so bad at it that I develop severe injuries. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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My classical values make me advocate the triplet of erudition, elegance, and courage; against modernity's phoniness, nerdiness, and philistinism ... many philistines reduce my ideas to an opposition of technology when in fact I am opposing the naive blindness to it's side affects - the fragility criterion. I'd rather be unconditional about ethical and conditional about technology than the the reverse. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Characteristically, Samuelson intimidated those who questioned his techniques with the statement "Those who can, do science, others do methodology." If you knew math, you could "do science." This is reminiscent of psychoanalysts who silence their critics by accusing them of having trouble with their fathers. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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One of the most irritating conversations I've had is with people who lecture me on how I should behave. Most of us know pretty much how we should behave. It is the execution that is the problem, not the absence of knowledge. I am tired of the moralizing slow-thinkers who pound me with platitudes like I should floss daily, eat my regular apple, and visit the gym outside of the New Year's resolution. In the markets the recommendation would be to ignore the noise component in the performance. We need tricks to get us there but before that we need to accept the fact that we are mere animals in need of lower forms of tricks, not lectures. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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I figured out that whatever I selected myself I could read with more depth and more breadth - there was a match to my curiosity. And I could take advantage of what people later pathologized as Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) by using natural stimulation as a main driver to scholarship. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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It is a very recent disease to mistake the unobserved for the nonexistent; but some are plagued with the worse disease of mistaking the unobserved for the unobservable. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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I'm a capitalist but one who is smallist and localist, and who favours businesses where owners are still in charge. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Since the Enlightenment, in the great tension between rationalism (how we would like things to be so they make sense to us) and empiricism (how things are), we have been blaming the world for not fitting the beds of "rational" models, have tried to change humans to fit technology, fudged our ethics to fit our needs for employment, asked economic life to fit the theories of economists, and asked human life to squeeze into some narrative. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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The imagination of the genius vastly surpasses his intellect; the intellect of the academic vastly surpasses his imagination — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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If my brain can ttell the difference between noise and signal, my heart cannot. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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In fact their strength, as with over-specialized athletes, is the result of a deformity. I thought it was the same with people who were selected for trying to get high grades in a small number of subjects rather than follow their curiosity: try taking them slightly away from what they studied and watch their decomposition, loss of confidence, and denial. (Just like corporate executives are selected for their ability to put up with the boredom of meetings, many of these people were selected for their ability to concentrate on boring material.) I've — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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If you let markets - in general, my belief is that if you let markets give you information, they'll give you the information rather than artificially prop up everything. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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They had all the means to develop a spinning machine, but "nobody tried" - another example of knowledge hampering optionality. They probably needed someone like Steve Jobs - blessed with an absence of college education and the right aggressiveness of temperament - to take the elements to their natural conclusion. As we will see in the next section, it is precisely this type of uninhibited doer who made the Industrial Revolution happen. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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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

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...the mental probabilistic map in one's mind is so geared toward sensational that one would realize informational gains by dispensing with the news. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Most people are sceptical about the wrong things and gullible about the wrong things. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Half of the people lie with their lips; the other half with their tears — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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We cannot truly plan, because we do not understand the future-but this is not necessarily a bad news. We could plan while bearing in mind such limitations. It just takes guts. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Never ask a trader if he is profitable: you can easily see it in his gesture and gait. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Go to parties. You can't even start to know what you may find on the envelope of serendipity. If you suffer from agoraphobia, send colleagues. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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What organized dating sites fail to understand is that the people are far more interesting in what they don't say about themselves. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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The appearance of busyness reinforces the perception of causality, of the link between results, and one's role in them. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Success is about honour, feeling morally calibrated, absence of shame, not what some newspaper defines from an external metric. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Much of aging comes from a misunderstanding of the effect of comfort. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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This absence of literary culture is actually a marker of future blindness because it is usually accompanied by a denigration of history, a byproduct of unconditional neomania. Outside of the niche and isolated genre of science fiction, literature is about the past. We do not learn physics or biology from medieval textbooks, but we still read Homer, Plato, or the very modern Shakespeare. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Writing is the art of repeating oneself without anyone noticing. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Two weekends in Philadelphia are not twice as pleasant as a single one - I've tried. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Why do we keep focusing on the minutiae, not the possible significant large events, in spite of the obvious evidence of their huge influence? — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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In science you need to understand the world; in business you need others to misunderstand it. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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...we are too brainwashed by notions of causality and we think that it is smarter to say because than to accept randomness. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Let me be more aggressive: we are largely better at doing than we are at thinking, thanks to antifragility. I'd rather be dumb and antifragile than extremely smart and fragile, any time. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Half of life - the interesting half of life - we don't have a name for. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Procrastination is the soul rebelling against entrapment. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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The worst problem of modernity lies in the malignant transfer of fragility and antifragility from one party to the other, with one getting the benefits, the other (unwittingly) getting the harm, with such transfer facilitated by the growing wedge between the ethical and the legal. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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We have far too many ways to interpret past events for our own good. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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It was obvious that their profits were simply cash borrowed from destiny with some random payback time. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Social science means inventing a certain brand of human we can understand. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Janet Yellen at the FED is equivalent to having a biology schoolteacher who has never seen blood perform brain surgery. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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People feel deep anxiety finding out that someone they thought was stupid is actually more intelligent than they are. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Never think that lack of variability is stability. Don't confuse lack of volatility with stability, ever. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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You will get the most attention from those who hate you. No friend, no admirer and no partner will flatter you with as much curiosity. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Suckers try to win arguments, nonsuckers try to win. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Education makes the wise slightly wiser, but it makes the fool vastly more dangerous. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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When you walk the walk, whether successful or not, you feel more indifferent and robust to people's opinion, freer, more real. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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(I've had a hard time conveying to intellectuals the intellectual superiority of practice.) — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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The consequences are not trivial: It means that rational thinking has little, very little, to do with risk avoidance. Much of what rational thinking seems to do is rationalize one's actions by fitting some logic to them. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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A prophet is not someone with special visions, just someone blind to most of what others see — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Makridakis and Hibon reached the sad conclusion that "statistically sophisticated or complex methods do not necessarily provide more accurate forecasts than simpler ones. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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It hit me right there and then that these antifragile hormetic responses were just a form of redundancy, and all the ideas of Mother Nature converged in my mind. It is all about redundancy. Nature likes to overinsure itself. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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In general, positive Black Swans take time to show their effect while negative ones happen very quickly - it is much easier and much faster to destroy than to build. (During — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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A verbal threat is the most authentic certificate of impotence. — Nassim Nicholas Taleb