A retro review from January 5, 2013.  This review copy came from Amazon’s Vine program.

Review: Anti-Fragile: Things That Gain from Disorder, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, 2012.Antifragile

This is not an investment guide.

This is not a fitness guide.

This is not a diet guide.

This is not a screed against the dismal science.

This is not a call for fundamental economic and political change.

This is not an autobiography.

This is, as Taleb himself has called it, a work of philosophy which touches on all of the above. I’d also call it a field guide to understanding important parts of the natural and social worlds. It finds much inspiration in the ancient texts of the Mediterranean. Taleb says “moderns have severe handicaps when it comes to wisdom”.

We rely, he argues, too much on the illusion of knowledge, too much on false precision, ignorantly intervene, centralize our decisions, try futilely to avoid random risk. Taleb practices “naturalistic risk management” – ways of minimizing bad risk and benefiting from the “Extended Disorder Family”: uncertainty, variability, imperfect knowledge, chaos, volatility, time, the unknown, randomness, error, and stressors”. Weak things are hurt by disorder; robust things are unchanged, and, as the title indicates, Taleb’s coinage “antifragile” designates those things benefitting from disorder. Continue reading