Things that gain from disorder
Author: Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Publisher: Penguin Books
Antifragile is not what you call easy material. Neither to read, nor to summarize. This book is many things and definitely not what you expected. But at least, I can promise you won't get bored because the author is not fooling around spending 500 pages for some 50 pages ideas. Each paragraph is rich in information and pretty useful. Taleb explains the ethics of Fragility and Antifragility, answering a lot of questions like: how we missed the word antifragility in classrooms, where do we find overcompensation, why death is a necessity for life, which are the benefits of error for the collective, how antifragility of the whole often depends on the fragility of the parts, which are the flaws of intellectualism. He goes on with many other questions that people are too afraid to ask, or have no one to talk about with. He even dares to say that obsessive love is the most antifragile thing outside the economics.
Taleb, this superhero of the mind, a harsh man with a sharp wit and no shy tongue, forces you to think about all the things in the world that might have an influence on you. You might feel mentally exhausted even after only a few pages, but if you don't want to be a 'sucker' slave to a career that makes you feel crappy rather then happy, keep on reading. If I ask you what antifragile means perhaps your answer would be strong or something similiar. But you are wrong. Think about it, if fragile implies something that is negatively impacted by mishandling, would not the opposite be something that benefits from shock, neglect, abuse? If you get the idea, well, your evolution might come in handy.
Aren’t you tired of running away from randomness, uncertainity and chaos? If so, Antifragile is the reading you were searching for because it shows you how to stop hidding from bad things and start turning them in your favor. This is a wonderful journey, at the end of it you will be able to domesticate and dominate the unseen. First it teaches you to use a simple test of asymmetry in order to detect antifragility: anything that had more upside then downside from random events(or certain shocks) is antifragile; the reverse is fragile. This is important because the process of discovery itself depends on antifragile tinkering, agressive risk bearing rather than formal education. So stop avoiding interference with the things you don’t understand. Stop following the fragilista( medical, economic, social planner) who makes the modern society blind. Stop engaging in artificial actions in which the benefits are small and visible, and the side effects potentially severe and invisible.
For me, one of the most challenging chapters is the one called When two things are not the same thing. Have you ever asked yourself if knowledge is really what generates wealth, and if so what kind of knowledge? Taleb is quite aggressive when it comes to studying, he claims that classroom education does not lead to wealth, it only comes from wealth. Just like evolution does not rely on narratives, humans do. Evolution does not need a word for the color blue. So this is how one often mistakes a source of necessary knowledge for another, less visible from the outside, less tractable, less narratable. He moves on to saying that less is more in action: the more studies , the less obvious elementary but fundamental things become. So you don’t go to school to learn optionality but the reverse: to become blind to it.
This is such an awesome book, you can learn a lot only by reading its chapter summaries. Then, there are a lot of quotes from ancient wisdom explained in a really interesting way. So I guess I could say this is a must for any reader because it delves into every major area of our life – finance, culture, business, medicine, politics, making you doubt everything you think you might know. And then it offers a completely different view of how the world works, helping you to cope with the inevitable Black Swan events. You want to be Antifragile, so you must be aware of the things that gain from disorder!
A revolutionary message
You might find this easier than his other famous book- The Black Swan
A little too much criticism on those Taleb doesn’t like
For those who want to learn how to live in a world that is unpredictable, chaotic and full of shocks and how to thrive during periods of disaster