Antifragile

Antifragile

Things That Gain From Disorder

Book - 2012
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Antifragile is a standalone book in Nassim Nicholas Taleb's landmark Incerto series, an investigation of opacity, luck, uncertainty, probability, human error, risk, and decision-making in a world we don't understand. The other books in the series are Fooled by Randomness, The Black Swan, Skin in the Game, and The Bed of Procrustes .

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the bestselling author of The Black Swan and one of the foremost thinkers of our time, reveals how to thrive in an uncertain world.

Just as human bones get stronger when subjected to stress and tension, and rumors or riots intensify when someone tries to repress them, many things in life benefit from stress, disorder, volatility, and turmoil. What Taleb has identified and calls "antifragile" is that category of things that not only gain from chaos but need it in order to survive and flourish.

In The Black Swan, Taleb showed us that highly improbable and unpredictable events underlie almost everything about our world. In Antifragile, Taleb stands uncertainty on its head, making it desirable, even necessary, and proposes that things be built in an antifragile manner. The antifragile is beyond the resilient or robust. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better and better.

Furthermore, the antifragile is immune to prediction errors and protected from adverse events. Why is the city-state better than the nation-state, why is debt bad for you, and why is what we call "efficient" not efficient at all? Why do government responses and social policies protect the strong and hurt the weak? Why should you write your resignation letter before even starting on the job? How did the sinking of the Titanic save lives? The book spans innovation by trial and error, life decisions, politics, urban planning, war, personal finance, economic systems, and medicine. And throughout, in addition to the street wisdom of Fat Tony of Brooklyn, the voices and recipes of ancient wisdom, from Roman, Greek, Semitic, and medieval sources, are loud and clear.

Antifragile is a blueprint for living in a Black Swan world.

Erudite, witty, and iconoclastic, Taleb's message is revolutionary: The antifragile, and only the antifragile, will make it.

Praise for Antifragile

"Ambitious and thought-provoking . . . highly entertaining." -- The Economist

"A bold book explaining how and why we should embrace uncertainty, randomness, and error . . . It may just change our lives." -- Newsweek
Publisher: New York : Random House, c2012.
ISBN: 9781400067824
Characteristics: xxi, 519 p. :,ill. ;,25 cm.

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r
Ray_Ho
Nov 08, 2019

Third book from his series. Fooled by Randomness, Blackswan, and the last trilogy to his series of Fragilistas, Antifragility in application to everything else. Interesting work.

r
ReaderRy
May 24, 2019

Meh... giving it a couple stars because it does contain an insightful concept (a concept which you can probably glean from the title).
The author could have saved your time and paper and written this in a pamphlet. Theres a lot of mud to wade through to get to the good bits in here.

VaughanPLDavidB Apr 04, 2019

I was intrigued by the concept of "antifragility", but I barely got started with this book. The first thirty pages were filled with the author's sneering contempt, displaying a deep hatred of and bitterness toward the academic community, or indeed anyone with whom he disagrees. That and the author's incessant home-made jargon made this book unreadable. Don't waste your time. I didn't. Half a star because I couldn't give it zero.

b
benjaminmower
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.

w
wyenotgo
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.

s
StarGladiator
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!]

l
libraries_are_fun
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.

k
kimbol
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.

b
bette108
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.

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AnarchyintheLC Jun 06, 2014

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

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