Nassim Nicholas Taleb Quotes

The best philosophers were not academics but had another job so their philosophy was not corrupted by careerism.

Academia is to knowledge what prostitution is to love.

Academia is to knowledge what prostitution is to love; close enough on the surface but to the non-sucker not exactly the same thing.

The imagination of the genius vastly surpasses his intellect; the intellect of the academic vastly surpasses his imagination

Don't ask the barber whether you need a haircut and don't ask an academic if what he does is relevant.

My best definition of a nerd: someone who asks you to explain an aphorism

...maximize the serendipity around you.

Just as being nice to the arrogant is no better than being arrogant toward the nice being accommodating toward anyone committing a nefarious action condones it.

English does not distinguish between arrogant-up (irreverence toward the temporarily powerful) and arrogant-down (directed at the small guy).

What America does best is produce the ability to accept failure.

I'm in favour of religion as a tamer of arrogance. For a Greek Orthodox the idea of God as creator outside the human is not God in God's terms. My God isn't the God of George Bush.

Suckers try to win arguments nonsuckers try to win.

By all means avoid words"?threats complaints justification narratives reframing attempts to win arguments supplications; avoid words!

If you hear a "prominent" economist using the word 'equilibrium ' or 'normal distribution ' do not argue with him; just ignore him or try to put a rat down his shirt.

There are secrets to our world that only practice can reveal and no opinion or analysis will ever capture in full.

I don't know anyone on Wall Street who goes to work every day thinking of anything but how to increase their bonus.

If you want to annoy a poet explain his poetry.

When you write you don't have the social constraints of having people in front of you so you talk about abstract matters.

Another definition of modernity: conversations can be more and more completely reconstructed with clips from other conversations taking place at the same time on the planet.

We favor the visible the embedded the personal the narrated and the tangible; we scorn the abstract.

Democracies can't handle austerity measures very well.

A verbal threat is the most authentic certificate of impotence.

Information is antifragile; it feeds more on attempts to harm it than it does on efforts to promote it.

Simplicity is not so simple to attain.

People used to wear ordinary clothes weekdays and formal attire on Sunday. Today it is the exact reverse.

Rank beliefs not according to their plausibility but by the harm they may cause.

You don't become completely free by just avoiding being a slave; you also need to avoid becoming a master.

They think that intelligence is about noticing things are relevant (detecting patterns); in a complex world intelligence consists in ignoring things that are irrelevant (avoiding false patterns)

It is a sign of weakness to avoid showing signs of weakness.

Don't cross a river if it is four feet deep on average.

Maximum of an average is necessarily less volatile than the average maximum

The difference between technology and slavery is that slaves are fully aware that they are not free

Read books are far less valuable than unread ones.

Never take advice from anyone in a tie. They'll bankrupt you. Don't ask a general for advice on war and don't ask a broker for advice on money.

Asking science to explain life and vital matters is equivalent to asking a grammarian to explain poetry.

Writing is the art of repeating oneself without anyone noticing.

A system artificially stabilized and of course you have hidden risks under the surface and you don't know where the risks are.

Is the economy something organic or is it something engineered? I think it's closer to the organic. You harm it by artificially suppressing volatility in it.

If you let markets - in general my belief is that if you let markets give you information they'll give you the information rather than artificially prop up everything.

At no point in history have so many non-risk-takers that is those with no personal exposure exerted so much control.

You are rich if and only if money you refuse tastes better than money you accept.

A competitive athlete is painful to look at; trying hard to become an animal rather than a man he will never be as fast as a cheetah or as strong as an ox.

When you beat up someone physically you get excercise and stress relief; when you assault him verbally on the Internet you just harm yourself.

A country's assets reside in the tinkerers the hobbyists and the risk-takers.

Every social association that is not face-to-face is injurious to your health.

The worst side effect of wealth is the social associations it forces on its victims as people with big houses end up socializing with other people with big houses.

Scepticism is effortful and costly. It is better to be sceptical about matters of large consequences and be imperfect foolish and human in the small and the aesthetic.

Aesthetics ethics and many good things in humans are contagious.

Never take advice from someone wearing a tie.

You know children philosophize more than adults - and they are critical of adults.

Success is becoming in middle adulthood what you dreamed to be in late childhood.

Capitalism is about adventurers who get harmed by their mistakes not people who harm others with their mistakes.

Modernity: we created youth without heroism age without wisdom and life without grandeur

When I trade I don't have an agency problem; I have my neck on the line. When a bank or banker trades it's not his neck on the line.

Older people are most beautiful when they have what is lacking in the young: poise erudition wisdom phronesis and this post-heroic absence of agitation.

Let me be more aggressive: we are largely better at doing than we are at thinking thanks to antifragility. I'd rather be dumb and antifragile than extremely smart and fragile any time.

Much of aging comes from a misunderstanding of the effect of comfort.

Things always become obvious after the fact

Procrastination is the soul rebelling against entrapment.

Writing is sacred other activities are profane and I don't want them to corrupt my writing.

I remind myself of Einstein's remark that common sense is nothing but a collection of misconceptions acquired by age 18...

A washing machine needs constant maintenance. It doesn't want any harm. It wants tranquility and you need someone to - you're not going to harm it by continuously monitoring it and adjusting it.

Forecasting by bureaucrats tends to be used for anxiety relief rather than for adequate policy making.

You will get the most attention from those who hate you. No friend no admirer and no partner will flatter you with as much curiosity.

The three most harmful addictions are heroin carbohydrates and a monthly salary.

Suckers think that you cure greed with money addiction with substances expert problems with experts banking with bankers economics with economists and debt crises with debt spending

When you ask people 'What's the opposite of fragile? ' they tend to say robust resilient adaptable solid strong. That's not it. The opposite of fragile is something that gains from disorder.

Anything organic requires some dose of variability so it can adapt all the time and fixing things is not a good idea.

An ad hominem attack against an individual not against an idea is highly flattering. It indicates that the person does not have anything intelligent to say about your message.

Doctors most commonly get mixed up between absence of evidence and evidence of abense

Economics make homeopath and alternative healers look empirical and scientific.

Probability is not about the odds but about the belief in the existence of an alternative outcome cause or motive.

Karl Marx a visionary figured out that you can control a slave much better by convincing him he is an employee.

You never win an argument until they attack your person.

Redundancy is ambiguous because it seems like a waste if nothing unusual happens. Except that something unusual happens-usually .

Success is about honour feeling morally calibrated absence of shame not what some newspaper defines from an external metric.

Alan Greenspan is unskilled; you don't take the unskilled seriously.

Nobody reads the disclosures that roll down your computer screen. You click 'I agree' but you don't know what you're agreeing to.

Don't aim to be perfect! Aim to be antifragile

Failure saves lives. In the airline industry every time a plane crashes the probability of the next crash is lowered by that.

Go to parties. You can't even start to know what you may find on the envelope of serendipity. If you suffer from agoraphobia send colleagues.

You exist if and only if you are free to do things without a visible objective with no justification and above all outside the dictatorship of someone else's narrative.

When we want to do something while unconsciously certain to fail we seek advice so we can blame someone else for the failure.

The next time you experience a blackout take some solace by looking at the sky. You will not recognize it.

The central idea in The Black Swan is that: rare events cannot be estimated from empirical observation since they are rare.

Please don't drive a school bus blindfolded.

Janet Yellen at the FED is equivalent to having a biology schoolteacher who has never seen blood perform brain surgery.

Bitcoin is the beginning of something great: a currency without a government something necessary and imperative.

In economic life and history more generally just about everything of consequence comes from black swans; ordinary events have paltry effects in the long term.

Remember that you are a Black Swan.

Black Swans and tail events run the socioeconomic world

People work out they stress their body and their body gets stronger from stress.

Anything that provides you with very very stable income very stable conditions maybe generally stable that often it masks real risks risks of blow-ups.

Hard work will get you a professorship or a BMW. You need both work and luck for a Booker a Nobel or a private jet.

The rationalist imagines an imbecile-free society; the empiricist and imbecile-proof one or even better a rationalist-proof one.

If my detractors knew me better they would hate me even more.

The best way to learn a language may be an episode of jail in a foreign country.

The best test of whether someone is extremely stupid (or extremely wise) is whether financial and political news makes sense to him.

What fools call "wasting time" is most often the best investment.

My biggest problem with modernity may lie in the growing separation of the ethical and the legal

Bailing out every bank that fails makes the system riskier not safer.

It has been more profitable for us to bind together in the wrong direction than to be alone in the right one.

Steve Jobs Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg didn't finish college. Too much emphasis is placed on formal education - I told my children not to worry about their grades but to enjoy learning.

The characteristic feature of the loser is to bemoan in general terms mankind's flaws biases contradictions and irrationality - without exploiting them for fun and profit

Private equity has absolutely no reason to exist. The private equity holder has all the upside and the banks all the downside.

I've been telling anyone willing to listen that banks have a tendency to sit on time bombs while convincing themselves that they are conservative and nonvolatile.

My nightmare scenario is that the government saves Citibank once again as well as the other banks and business resumes as usual. Then the next time the system breaks it breaks much much bigger.

Bankers they're not harmed by their mistakes. They benefit when things go right and the society pays the price.

The bonus for bankers fragilizes the system. Someone has the upside at the expense of others.

Banks have never made money in the history of banking losing the equivalent of all their past profits periodically - while bankers strike it rich.

Banking is a very treacherous business because you don't realize it is risky until it is too late. It is like calm waters that deliver huge storms.

If you are in banking and lending surprise outcomes are likely to be negative for you.

The twentieth century was the bankruptcy of the social utopia; the twenty-first will be that of the technological one.

To bankrupt a fool give him information.

I am happy everywhere except in places where I see glitz and rich farts. I am happiest in Brooklyn where the concentration of rich farts is minimal.

Someone who says "I am busy" is either declaring incompetence (and lack of control of his life) or trying to get rid of you.

I no longer care about the financial system. I gave them my roadmap. OK? Thanks bye. I've no idea what's going on. I'm disconnected. I'm totally disengaged.

In science you need to understand the world; in business you need others to misunderstand it.

I'm a capitalist but one who is smallist and localist and who favours businesses where owners are still in charge.

You have family-owned businesses that have been around for 500 years. You cannot name a corporation that survives intact for even a few decades.

What we do today has nothing to do with capitalism or socialism. It is a crony type of system that transfers money to the coffers of bureaucrats.

Umberto Eco is the owner of a large personal library of almost 30 000 books that he has not read. [To him] read books are far less valuable than unread ones.

The difference between slaves in Roman and Ottoman days and today's employees is that slaves did not need to flatter their boss.

It was obvious that their profits were simply cash borrowed from destiny with some random payback time.

Debt is a mistake between lender and borrower and both should suffer.

We should ban banks from risk-taking because society is going to pay the price.

In poor countries officials receive explicit bribes; in D.C. they get the sophisticated implicit unspoken promise to work for large corporations

Social science means inventing a certain brand of human we can understand.

What we need to do is break the financial community's grip on society.

Greatness starts with the replacement of hatred with polite disdain.

It is much harder to become independent if you are wealthy than to become wealthy if you are independent.

The curious mind embraces science; the gifted and sensitive the arts; the practical business; the leftover becomes an economist

true humility is when you can surprise yourself more than others; the rest is either shyness or good marketing

Information is bad for knowledge.

The grandchildren should not bear the debts of the grandparents.

Never trust a journalist unless she's your mother.

A mistake is not something to be determined after the fact but in the light of the information until that point

The track record of economists in predicting events is monstrously bad. It is beyond simplification; it is like medieval medicine.

Modernity needs to understand that being rich and becoming rich are not mathematically personally socially and ethically the same thing.

When an investor focuses on short-term investments he or she is observing the variability of the portfolio not the returns - in short being fooled by randomness.

This is the central illusion in life: that randomness is a risk that it is a bad thing ...

Character is proportionate to N the number of consecutive failures without being discouraged or equivalently the number of successive rejections without being intimidated.

A man without a heroic bent starts dying at the age of thirty.

It is often the mistakes of others that benefit the rest of us and sadly not them ... For the antifragile harm from errors should be less than the benefits.

We cannot truly plan because we do not understand the future-but this is not necessarily a bad news. We could plan while bearing in mind such limitations. It just takes guts.

The fastest way to become rich is to socialize with the poor; the fastest way to become poor is to socialize with the rich.

Heroes are heroes because they are heroic in behavior not because they won or lost.

Meditation is a way to be narcissistic without hurting anyone

The fragile wants tranquility the antifragile grows from disorder and the robust doesn't care too much.

You want to be yourself idiosyncratic; the collective (school rules jobs technology) wants you generic to the point of castration.

Charm is the ability to insult people without offending them; nerdiness the reverse

Experience is devoid of the cherry-picking that we find in studies.

Much of modern life is preventable chronic stress injury.

You will be civilized on the day you can spend a long period doing nothing learning nothing and improving nothing without feeling the slightest amount of guilt.

Mental clarity is the child of courage not the other way around.

The classical man's worst fear was inglorious death; the modern man's worst fear is just death

For the classics philosophical insight was the product of a life of leisure; for me a life of leisure is the product of philosophical insight.

Poverty is clearly one source of emotional suffering but there are others like loneliness.

Being an economist is the least ethical profession closer to charlatanism than any science.

Decomposition for most starts when they leave the free social and uncorrupted college life for the solitary confinement of professions and nuclear families.

I always remind myself that what one observes is at best a combination of variance and returns not just returns.

Ideas come and go stories stay.

You find peace by coming to terms with what you don't know.

Globalization has created this interlocking fragility. At no time in the history of the universe has the cancellation of a Christmas order in New York meant layoffs in China.

Using as an excuse others' failure of common sense is in itself a failure of common sense.

For many people commuting is the worst part of the day and policies that can make commuting shorter and more convenient would be a straightforward way to reduce minor but widespread suffering.

You have a real life if and only if you do not compete with anyone in any of your pursuits.

Switzerland is the perfect place where you have volatility at a municipal level that nothing up top - small units competing with each other.

An idea starts to be interesting when you get scared of taking it to its logical conclusion.

Daily news and sugar confuse our system in the same manner.

Never think that lack of variability is stability. Don't confuse lack of volatility with stability ever.

Injecting some confusion stabilizes the system.

Intelligence consists in ignoring things that are irrelevant.

An erudite is someone who displays less than he knows; a journalist or consultant the opposite.

I drive a hybrid moving into an electric car. I only drink tap water never consume food that's travelled.

The mortgage crisis is a clear instance of consumers who needed protection. There was predatory lending to people who didn't know what they were doing.

If something is going on I hear about it. I like to talk to people I socialise. Television is a waste of time. Human contact is what matters.

The person you are most afraid to contradict is yourself.

The irony of the process of thought control: the more energy you put into trying to control your ideas and what you think about the more your ideas end up controlling you.

A good maxim allows you to have the last word without even starting a conversation.

In the United States large corporations control some members of Congress. All this does is delay the corporation's funeral at our expense.

Corporations take the humanity out of trade - they take the happiness out and replace it with something that is ugly.

The book is the only medium left that hasn't been corrupted by the profane.

There are systems that use failure as fuel for improvement where the cost of failure is small.

It does not matter how frequently something succeeds if failure is too costly to bear.

The traits I respect are erudition and the courage to stand up when half-men are afraid for their reputation. Any idiot can be intelligent.

The opposite of manliness isn't cowardice; it's technology.

Rationalism crashes in the tails.

History doesn't crawl; it leaps.

Individuals should think about the worst-case scenarios and plan for them. The world will be crazier than you think it will be. Put money away and then you can live with much more freedom.

To be completely cured of newspapers spend a year reading the previous week's newspapers.

It is my great hope someday to see science and decision makers rediscover what the ancients have always known. Namely that our highest currency is respect.

I don't go to the doctor except when I'm very ill and when I go to India I drink a drop of local water.

What organized dating sites fail to understand is that the people are far more interesting in what they don't say about themselves.

The more data we have the more likely we are to drown in it.

Inequalities of wealth lead to a dispersion in wealth for all.

You need a story to displace a story.

The opposite of fragile is something that gains from disorder.

Modernity widened the distance between the sensational and the relevant.

If I could predict what my day would exactly look like I would feel a little bit dead.

Weak men act to satisfy their needs stronger men their duties.

I hated school because I liked to daydream and the system tried to stop me from that.

Any system that is deprived of its natural volatility with government up (unintelligible) volatile any system becomes very fragile.

Paul Krugman is a danger to society!

We should probably stop trading derivatives anything more complex than regular options ... I am an options trader and I don't understand options. How do you want a regulator to understand them?

It might be useful to be able to predict war. But tension does not necessarily lead to war but often to peace and to denouement.

I have never had personal debt and never will.

Your reputation is harmed the most by what you say to defend it.

Deficits are like putting dynamite in the hands of children. They can get out of control very quickly.

The American people will eventually get hurt by this accumulated deficit. That's the problem. We have too much deficit. We have to find a solution.

The world we live in is vastly different from the world we think we live in.

[A] theory is a very dangerous thing to have.

I want them poor and they deserve to be poor. You can't have capitalism without punishment.

I lift heavy weights and sprint but I am so bad at it that I develop severe injuries.

But they never notice the following inconsistency: this so-called worst-case event when it happened exceeded the worst case at the time.

Modernity has replaced ethics with legalese and the law can be gamed with a good lawyer.

It takes extraordinary wisdom and self-control to accept that many things have a logic we do not understand that is smarter than our own.

As countries get rich they start increasing education and the very educated people tend to not like trial and error because they think they're obligated to use the body of knowledge they have.

Years ago I noticed one thing about economics and that is that economists didn't get anything right.

Someone bemoaned that there were so few women in economics. But there are also very few men in economics.

Probability and expectation are not the same. Its probability and probability times the pay off.

The payoff of a human venture is in general inversely proportional to what it is expected to be.

The weak shows his strength and hides his weaknesses; the magnificent exhibits his weaknesses like ornaments.

The people I go after are the false experts those who do not accept the limits of their knowledge.

People employed in financial institutions are rarely interesting and even more rarely likable.

Those who do not think that employment is systemic slavery are either blind or employed.

Stoicism is about the *domestication* of emotions not their elimination.

If you're going to fail you'd rather fail early than fail late in general.

Being an entrepreneur is an existential not just a financial thing.

For the robust an error is information.

Learn to fail with pride - and do so fast and cleanly. Maximise trial and error - by mastering the error part.

Life is a tightrope between two errors: generalizing the wrong particular and particularizing the wrong general.

Luck is the grand equalizer.

Never ask anyone for their opinion forecast or recommendation. Just ask them what they have"?or don't have"?in their portfolio.

It's not a good idea to take a forecast from someone wearing a tie. If possible tease people who take themselves and their knowledge too seriously.

Fragility is the quality of things that are vulnerable to volatility.

We learn the most from fools ... yet we pay them back with the worst ingratitude.

If the past by bringing surprises did not resemble the past previous to it (what I call the past's past) then why should our future resemble our current past?

Only the autodidacts are free

If you see fraud and do not say fraud you are a fraud.

A Stoic is someone who transforms fear into prudence pain into transformation mistakes into initiation and desire into undertaking.

Few understand that procrastination is our natural defense letting things take care of themselves and exercise their antifragility.

You want failures to be small and informational. Silicon Valley does very well. It knows how to use failure as a tool for improvement.

If humans fight the last war nature fights the next one.

Most so-called writers keep writing and writing with the hope some day to find something to say.

Only in recent history has "working hard" signaled pride rather than shame for lack of talent finesse and mostly sprezzatura .

My major hobby is teasing people who take themselves and the quality of their knowledge too seriously and those who don't have the guts to sometimes say: I don't know....

What they call "play" (gym travel sports) looks like work.

Most people are sceptical about the wrong things and gullible about the wrong things.

Never ask a trader if he is profitable: you can easily see it in his gesture and gait.

The only valid political system is one that can handle an imbecile in power without suffering from it

This is the tragedy of modernity: as with neurotically overprotective parents those trying to help are often hurting us the most.

I want to live happily in a world I don't understand.

Randomness works well in search sometimes better than humans.

It's harder to say no when you really mean it.

Wittgenstein's ruler: Unless you have confidence in the ruler's reliability if you use a ruler to measure a table you may also be using the table to measure the ruler.

The psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer has a simple heuristic. Never ask the doctor what you should do. Ask him what he would do if he were in your place. You would be surprised at the difference

An option hides where we don't want it to hide.

They will envy you for your success your wealth for your intelligence for your looks for your status - but rarely for your wisdom.

Wit seduces by signaling intelligence without nerdiness.

I'm a private intellectual not a public one.

If one puts an infinite number of monkeys in front of typewriters and lets them clap away there is a certainty that one of them will come out with an exact version of the 'Iliad.'

When some systems are stuck in a dangerous impasse randomness and only randomness can unlock them and set them free.

What I learned on my own I still remember

The tragedy of virtue is that the more obvious boring unoriginal and sermonizing the proverb the harder it is to implement.

To succeed in life requires a total inability to do anything that makes you uncomfortable when you look at yourself in the mirror.

While in theory randomness is an intrinsic property in practice randomness is incomplete information.

We should reward people not ridicule them for thinking the impossible.

We humans lack imagination to the point of not even knowing what tomorrow's important things will look like.

The inability to predict outliers implies the inability to predict the course of history

Comfort makes you weaker. We need some variability some stressors. Not too much but just enough.

Answer e-mails from junior people before more senior ones. Junior people have further to go and tend to remember who slighted them.

I'd rather have the market tell us what - I'd rather have events precipitate events rather than just sit there like passive people in Washington.

What kills me makes others stronger

We tend to use knowledge as therapy.

Avoid losers. If you hear someone use the words 'impossible' 'never' 'too difficult' too often drop him or her from your social network.

Restaurants get you in with food to sell you liquor; religions get you in with belief to sell you rules.

Political life loves some volatility.

Never never never think - that's one lesson you should have in life. Never think that lack of variability is stability.

Love without sacrifice is like theft

Half of the people lie with their lips; the other half with their tears

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.

But it remains the case that you know what is wrong with a lot more confidence than you know what is right.

Education makes the wise slightly wiser but it makes the fool vastly more dangerous.

People focus on role models; it is more effective to find antimodels - people you don't want to resemble when you grow up

All of technology really is about maximizing free options.

What is nonmeasurable and nonpredictable will remain nonmeasurable and nonpredictable ... no matter how much hate mail I get.

If you take risks and face your fate with dignity there is nothing you can do that makes you small; if you don't take risks there is nothing you can do that makes you grand nothing.

We didn't get where we are thanks to the sissy notion of resilience.

Prediction not narration is the real test of our understanding of the world.

The fool generalizes the particular; the nerd particularizes the general; some do both; and the wise does neither

He who has never sinned is less reliable than he who has only sinned once.

You get pseudo-order when you seek order; you only get a measure of order and control when you embrace randomness.

Realism is punishing. Probabilistic skepticism is worse.

A prophet is not someone with special visions just someone blind to most of what others see

We tend to treat our knowledge as personal property to be protected and defended. It is an ornament that allows us to rise in the pecking order...we take what we know a little too seriously.

To become a philosopher start by walking very slowly.

The sucker's trap is when you focus on what you know and what others don't know rather than the reverse.

Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better.

I don't read the papers; I stopped reading the papers. I read the papers only during periods of crisis and I think papers are too long on a regular day and too short days when we have a crisis.

People are much less interested in what you are trying to show them than what you are trying to hide.

Make sure that you are in a situation where the constant mistakes are small and can be used for something.