Five words from the blurb: prediction, errors, immune, social, economic
A few years ago I read The Black Swan and was impressed by the number of thought provoking ideas it contained; so I jumped at the chance to read a review copy of Taleb’s new book, Antifragile, which is more impressive in many ways.
‘Antifragile’ is a term invented by Taleb to refer to things that improve with stress. He uses numerous examples to show how everything from human health to financial markets can benefit from small amounts of damage. He explains how the old saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is true and how people can benefit from embracing this knowledge.
Many sections of this book were eye-opening and they helped to change my perception of certain events. I particularly liked the thought that women who carry items on their head have better posture and bone density than those that don’t:
Some of the ideas, especially the thought that small wars are good for the population as a whole, are controversial, but I found them thought provoking and enjoyed the little arguments they created in my head!
Unfortunately there were several problems with this book. The first was that I felt Taleb was being overly provocative. In the book he states that authors are antifragile and any negative media about a book/author will only help sales. I felt that he was trying to maximise negative publicity by deliberately naming people he disagreed with and being quite arrogant and rude on several occasions.
Many sections of the book were also unnecessarily complex. Obscure words and a difficult sentence structure meant that some paragraphs were almost incomprehensible. I frequently re-read passages and remained unsure of the point he was trying to make.
Luckily the genius of this book outweighs the problems. I love the way Taleb has created a new way of looking at the world and even though I don’t agree with him entirely I feel as though my mind has become richer as a result of his challenging thoughts.
This video interview with him will give you a good idea of his style:
Recommended to anyone who likes new ways of looking at the world.