Nassim Nicholas Taleb excerpts from Antifragility


The avoidance of small errors makes the large ones more sever.

No true stability without volatility.

Focus on actions and avoid words which can lead to a health eroding dependence on external recognition. People are cruel and unfair in the way they confer recognition, so it is best to stay out of the game. Stay robust to how others treat you.

A man is honorable in proportion to the amount of downside he is exposed to for acting on his opinions.

Possession makes us worry about downside, this acting as a punishment as we depend on them. Success brings asymmetry: you now have a lot more to lose than gain. You are hence fragile.

When you have nothing to lose, you are anti-fragile at best, robust at worst.

Nothing can be done hastily and safely – almost nothing.

Anti-fragility is the combination of paranoia and aggressiveness.

Prepare for the worst, the best can take care of itself. Yiddish proverb

Being reviewed or assessed by others matters if and only if one is subjected to judgement by future – not just present – others.

A free person does not to win arguments – just win.

Anything that smacks of a competition is a destruction of knowledge.

The most convincing statements are those in which someone stands, ones in which one has maximal skin in the game; the most unconvincing ones are those in which one patently ( but unknowingly) tries to enhance one’s status without a tangible contribution. Show off if fine, it is human, as long as the substance exceeds the showoff content.

Stay human, take as much as you can, under the condition that you give more than you take.

It is easy to scam people by getting them to complication.

Some things can be, simply, to large for you heart.

Skepticism has traditionally been of expert knowledge rather than abstract entities like God.  Skeptic fideists like the Sufi El Ghazali were part of this tradition.

Avoidance of boredom is the only worthy mode of action.

When it comes to sustaining healthy and ethical activity, the trick is to be bored with a specific task rather than give up the whole project.

‘What is the payoff?’  – negative or positive – is often a better question than ‘what is true ?’ The answer to the former depends on the fragility continuum. Modify your exposure according – adjust your targets. Learn to get out of trouble. Vastly more effective.

Precautionary principle: if we don’t understand something and it has a systemic effect, just avoid.

Ask yourself how many things you need to disregard in order to act.

Just worry about Black Swan exposures, and life is easy. Exploit the positive one and protect against the negative ones.

Robust to error decisions require no more than a single reason.

One small observation can disprove a statement, while millions can hardly confirm it.

What we know to be right today may turn out to be wrong but what we know to be wrong cannot turn out to be right, at least not easily.

It’s not about what to do, but having a way to remove the bad.

Innovation is saying no to 1000 things. Steve Jobs.

It doesn’t matter how often you are wrong, just that you are right when it counts. Suckers try to win arguments, non-suckers try to win. We know we will be wrong most of the time when we check people for weapons at an airport. One side has larger consequences than the other. It is rather a good thing to lose arguments.

Never put your enemy’s back to the wall. Hope your enemies, your circumstances, put your back against the wall. Back against the wall folks tap all their resources, ones they didn’t know they had.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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