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January 7, 2013

Unknown, Uncertain, Unpredictable, Unexpected Part 2 of 10

I am interested in the unknown, the unknown unknown, the uncertain, the unpredictable, the surprises, the black swans, the unexpected, the blindsides, the blinders etc. I'm writing a series on this topic where this post is the second part. All these are related to personal effectiveness.

Now let me discuss a book that I read a few days ago : Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in the Markets and in Life by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Though my summary is going to be very short, it is a marvellous book, I admire his insight, research, data and his prose too.

  1. Life is random. We need proof. When collecting proofs, our biases will orient us to the existence of what we expect to exist and to the absence of what we expect to be absent. I believe that Professor Taleb is free from such biases, and that when he did look for non-randomness, he could find only randomness in Life.
  2. Life is unpredictable. Does "unpredictable" necessarily means "random." And do we need to bother about unpredictability? 
  3. His solution : Retain your/human dignity at all times. Like Hemmingway's "code hero" who lives by a code of conduct. I agree, but the code should and can go beyond just dignity and cool.

Conclusion: Real Issuses Left Unanswered


We cannot predict Life. This inability can have many causes e.g.
  1. Life is really random. 
  2. It is not random, but we lack capacity to understand its Rule Book.
Should we try to predict?

If we should, how do we increase our ability to predict?

If we should not, how do we go on living with joy de vivre, confidence, courage and meaning?

I'm posting on Black Swans, 2nd edition, very soon. It is also a seminal, great book.

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