Saturday, December 8, 2012

Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

If you know his name, all I have to say is "He's got another book out."  This is the author of "Fooled by Randomness" and "The Black Swan."

I'm not finished with Antifragile yet, but I can tell you that it's a rant.  The good thing about it is that it's his third book. He doesn't have to prove anything and he lets his hair down and just blasts at anything he doesn't like.  And that makes it rather fun.

Despite the fact that he seems to have met Stuart Kauffman, he doesn't seem to realize that 'antifragility' is pretty similar in concept to self-organization and self-assembly.  Self-assembly requires an energy source like the buffeting of random inputs that he describes.  Everything he talks about that is antifragile is really self-organizing--that's how it retains its recognizable shape in a turbulent environment.

Really this manuscript should have been passed through the Santa Fe Institute crowd (not that they've produced anything notable since Langton's Ant), but that would have cut the legs out from under it.

One thing I like about Taleb is that he's the complete reverse of many of the authors whose books I've read about markets.  I've read entirely too many (planning to read more) books by academics about the stock market.  Taleb is a stock market technician who made good, now bailed out of that field and using his one toolbox on the rest of the world.  And he hates intellectuals and philosophers who don't have any experience in the areas that they talk about.  Of course.

I have the feeling that I'd find him quite charming in person, but this book makes me want to shake him and yell "Get over yourself!"