In the shadow of ‘Freakonomics’. The life of 123.3 TALEB

Hi there folk!! It’s Day 3 at A Dewey A Day!

Since you’ve been so faithful I figure I’ll pull the curtain back just a tad on my little operation. Its all about transparency these days right?

OK so I told yall that I get the Dewey numbers from a unique identifier generator and that I choose the 1st 6 digits for my Dewey.  Well sometimes there is no exact match for my number so the library catalog pulls up a list of similar matches.  At that point I choose a book from a list of about 5.  So its not totally random.  But all of the books are similar in nature.  So today’s short list had titles like The four purposes of life : finding meaning and direction in a changing world and Will the circle be unbroken? : reflections on death, rebirth, and hunger for a faith.  Sorry guys, close but no cigar.  No, this title had me at ‘randomness’…

Bibliographic info:

Fooled by Randomness : The hidden role of chance in life and in the markets

Taleb, Nassim.

New York: Random House 2005, c2004.

Summary (Booklist review):

Taleb is a “quant,” or mathematical trader, and an expert on financial derivatives who has made a name for himself in investing circles as a voluble critic of popular theories and conventional wisdom. He is also the author of Dynamic Hedging: Managing Vanilla and Exotic Options (1996). Taleb is fluent in seven languages and a reader of classical literature, an avocation that readily manifests itself in this meandering discourse on the roles of probability, luck, and risk in the markets and in life. Taleb examines how and why the attempt to determine cause and effect is continually hampered by random occurrences and our emotional responses to them. He freely shares his ideas and opinions, finding insights in the funeral of Jackie Onassis, B. F. Skinner’s experiments on pigeons, Solon’s warning, Karl Popper’s work, George Soros, Darwinism, the O. J. Simpson trial, Pascal’s wager, the collapse of Long Term Capital Management, the trading floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, birthdays, taxicabs, and especially the works of ancient Greek philosophers. –David Rouse

My Reaction:

I think I’m actually gonna keep this one and read cover to cover.  I’m riveted.  Who wouldn’t love a book with a chapter entitled “If you’re so rich, why aren’t you so smart?”?  This book takes a kind of irreverent pass at the goings on of the stock market.  I suggested in the title of the post that this book didn’t make as big a splash as the mega hit Freakonomics but it got a co-sign from Malcolm Gladwell so perhaps its not as obscure as I think it is.  The gist in a nut shell—the author suggests that more often than not in the stock arena, luck is mistaken for skill.

Taleb gives several very involved historical examples. This read is not as ADD friendly as Freakonomics.  It’s 290 pages and can be a little overly erudite in some parts but I’d say its worth giving the old college try—a grad school try, not an under-grad try because who actually read in under grad?  Same time tomorrow? 😀


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