The Black Swan Summary

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The Black Swan Summary par Mind Map: The Black Swan Summary

1. 1-Sentence-Summary:

1.1. The Black Swan explains why we are so bad at predicting the future, and how unlikely events dramatically change our lives if they do happen, as well as what you can do to become better at expecting the unexpected.

2. Favorite quote from the author:

2.1. "Missing a train is only painful if you run after it! Likewise, not matching the idea of success others expect from you is only painful if that's what you are seeking." - Nassim Nicholas Taleb

3. 3 lessons:

3.1. Black Swans dramatically change the reality of those, who aren’t aware that they’re coming.

3.1.1. Nassim Taleb calls an event a “Black Swan” if it’s unpredictable not because it’s random, but because our outlook on what’s possible was too narrow.

3.1.1.1. The name stems from the fact that up until 1697, mankind believed all swans were white.

3.1.1.2. But when Dutch explorers finally saw black swans for the first time in Western Australia, the term morphed into describing an event that occurred in spite of seeming impossible.

3.1.2. As a logical consequence, those who are the least aware of a Black Swan coming, will suffer the most from its often already extreme consequences.

3.1.2.1. Imagine you’d known about the 9/11 attacks, the 2008 financial crisis or hurricane Katrina in advance. You wouldn’t have been shocked and surprised. In some cases, a Black Swan is only a tragedy for a single person.

3.1.2.2. But what’s a Black Swan for John can be the deal of a lifetime for Tony, the owner of the horse, who’s known in advance that Onyx would protest and bet against his own horse.

3.1.3. However, often Black Swans affect entire societies, or even the whole world.

3.1.3.1. Just think of Copernicus’s discovery that the sun is the center of the universe, not the earth, or when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon.

3.2. Don’t use your past to explain the future.

3.2.1. One of our biggest erroneous behaviors is our tendency to predict what will happen in the future by using our past as an explanation.

3.2.1.1. Based on the only things we can be certain of – what has happened in our lives in the past – we weave a narrative that makes sense and expect that the future simply must unfold this way.

3.2.2. But there are many unknown factors that could change it.

3.2.2.1. A couple of examples:

3.3. Trying to assess real-world risk like you would in a game can lead you to making the wrong choices.

3.3.1. Another fallacy Taleb describes is called the ludic fallacy. This one explains why we do such bad jobs at getting the right insurance policy, for example.

3.3.2. When faced with the task to assess risk in the real world, we usually try to imagine the risk like a game, where there’s a set of rules and probabilities that we can determine up front, in order to then make the right decision.

3.3.2.1. However, very often, this isn’t possible.

3.3.2.1.1. You can’t just add all the probabilities for getting certain diseases or having a particular accident and then say: “Okay, based on this, I’ll get insured for X amount.”

3.3.2.1.2. For example, if you observe a coin flip game, where the dealer tells you the coin is fair (i.e. lands on heads or tails 50:50), but for 99 times in a row it comes up heads, would you really believe the odds are still 50:50 on the next toss?

3.3.3. If unlikely events happen more often than they statistically should, you must question the assumptions of your model.

3.3.3.1. An example:

3.3.4. It’s hard for us to assess risk accurately in the real world, but oversimplifying it only makes it worse.

4. What else can you learn from the blinks?

4.1. How dogmas keep us from learning

4.2. Why you hold on stronger to your false beliefs when presented with countering evidence

4.3. What our brain structure does that makes us determine the wrong causes for events

4.4. How we fail to distinguish between scalable and non-scalable information

4.5. What you can do to find out what you don’t know

4.6. Why you should be wary every time someone says “because”

5. Who would I recommend The Black Swan summary to?

5.1. The 18 year old star of the football team, who think his sports career will continue forever, the 52 year old, who’s lost a big chunk of money in the stock market once, and anyone who likes gambling.