Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets. Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Random House.

Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets Book Cover Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Random House
October 14, 2008

Now in a striking new hardcover edition, Fooled by Randomness is the word-of-mouth sensation that will change the way you think about business in the world. Nassim Nicholas Taleb – veteran trader, renowned risk expert, polymathic scholar, erudite raconteur, and New York Times bestselling author of The Black Swan – has written a modern classic that turns on its head what we believe about luck and skill.

This book is about luck – or, more precisely, about how we perceive and deal with luck and life and business. Set against the backdrop of the most conspicuous form in which luck is mistaken for skill – the world of trading – Fooled by Randomness provides captivating insight into one of the least understood factors in all our lives. Writing in an entertaining narrative style, the author tackles major intellectual issues related to the influence of happenstance on our lives.

The book is populated with an array of characters, some of whom have grasped, in their own way, the significance of chance: the baseball legend Yogi Barra; the philosopher of knowledge Karl Popper; the ancient world’s wisest man, Solon; the modern financier George Soros; and the Greek voyager Odysseus. We also meet the fictional Nero, who seems to understand the role of randomness in his professional life but falls victim to his own superstitious foolishness.

However, the most recognizable character of all remains unnamed – the lucky fool happens to be in the right place at the right time, and who embodies the “survival of the leased fit.” Such individuals attract devoted followers who believe in their gurus insights and methods. Unfortunately, what has been obtained by chance cannot be replicated.

Are we capable of distinguishing the fortunate charlatan from the genuine visionary? Must we always try to uncover nonexistent messages and random events? It may be impossible to guard ourselves against the vagaries of the goddess Fortuna, but after reading fooled by randomness we can be a little better prepared.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb is the author of The Black Swan. He has devoted his life to immersing himself in problems of luck, uncertainty, probability, and knowledge. Part literary essayist, part empiricist, part researcher, part no-nonsense businessman, he spent eighteen years as a mathematical trader, and was the Dean’s Professor in the Sciences of Uncertainty at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Taleb lives mostly in New York.