I have been somewhat obsessed with the writings of Nassim Taleb for last year. Though I’ve been an interested reader in his books and ideas since I was living in China as a college student.
It all started while being disillusioned to the state of academic economics. My major was economics, but while studying in University I realized that something wasn’t right. No economic text-book writer, professor, or academic economist saw the financial crisis of 2008 coming, yet they seemed so sure that all of their theories on how the economy functioned were sound and predictive, so predictive in fact that they regularly advocate for policies to be implemented based on their “sound” economic models. Realizing that my professors didn’t have a clue, I began to scour the internet for people that understood the financial crisis, saw it coming, and had actual solutions for the situation, solutions that made sense without having to take years of “statistical economics”. That’s when I began finding videos of Nassim Taleb. He had written a book called The Black Swan, which tended to get press when people were talking about financial crises.
After listening to Taleb’s interviews I immediately became a fan of his. It was almost exhilarating watching him bash mainstream academic economists, and the Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. He was calling out many economists in the mainstream who did not see the financial crisis coming, and who helped make it worse by advocating for more “efficient” and “fragile” policies which made systems too vulnerable to major unforeseen events(black swans).
At the time I did not understand many of his ideas, but something about them felt right. This feeling was completely counter to the one I was being fed at my University, there I felt like I was being tricked. Since I had my realization about the brilliance of Nassim Taleb’s writings, I have become an avid reader and listener of his books. His writings have helped me realize how much of what has become conventional wisdom in modern society is nearly the opposite of what has made humans successful enough to survive into modernity.
In addition to learning about general societal and economics, I am actively working to apply Nassim Talebs writings to my life, and so far it is going well. I feel more free to judge conventional wisdom and pursue my own interests and goals, and will go into more detail on later posts.
Anyone who is looking to improve their decision making abilities should read Nassim Taleb’s books. I would also recommend reading his writings before taking out your next loan or becoming the CEO of a large corporation.