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Summary

This audiobook is about luck, or more precisely, how we perceive and deal with luck in life and business. It is already a landmark work and its title has entered our vocabulary. In its second edition, Fooled by Randomness is now a cornerstone for anyone interested in random outcomes.

Set against the backdrop of the most conspicuous forum in which luck is mistaken for skill, the world of trading, this audiobook is a captivating insight into one of the least understood factors of all our lives. In an entertaining narrative style, the author succeeds in tackling three major intellectual issues: the problem of induction, the survivorship biases, and our genetic unfitness to the modern word. Taleb uses stories and anecdotes to illustrate our overestimation of causality and the heuristics that make us view the world as far more explainable than it actually is.

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

But the most recognizable character remains unnamed, the lucky fool in the right place at the right time - the embodiment of the "Survival of the Least Fit". Such individuals attract devoted followers who believe in their guru's insights and methods. But no one can replicate what is obtained through chance.

It may be impossible to guard against the vagaries of the Goddess Fortuna, but after listening to Fooled by Randomness we can be a little better prepared.

©2004 Nassim Nicholas Taleb (P)2008 Gildan Media Corp

Critic reviews

"[Taleb is] Wall Street's principal dissident....[ Fooled by Randomness] is to conventional Wall Street wisdom approximately what Martin Luther's ninety-nine theses were to the Catholic Church." (Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker)
"An articulate, wise, and humorous meditation on the nature of success and failure that anyone who wants a little more of the former would do well to consider." (Amazon.com)

What listeners say about Fooled by Randomness

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Excellent book, but patience is required

This book (and much of Taleb’s writing) attract an unnecessary amount of negative backlash. Yes, his books can often steer into being the ramblings of someone socially awkward, with a chip on their shoulder - but don’t let this distraction put you off reading this book.

I found the narration to be okay - though somewhat dry. The editing of this book is also bizarre (it feels like there has been no editing), quite often themes are mentioned out of nowhere, not expanded upon, and then the subject will change before you understand why.

To enjoy Taleb’s style of writing, you should treat it the same as having a long conversation with a friend after a few too many drinks.

4 people found this helpful

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Self righteous rambling

While the book may read well this unfortunately doesn't translate into a good audiobook. It comes across as very self righteous as he sneers at the mere mortals who don't appreciate randomness. Furthermore this book lacks any kind of structure and seems to be a collection of thoughts as they've come into the author's head. I was very disappointed

9 people found this helpful

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Blinded by Randomness

I'll try and restrain myself best I can. This guy has serious delusions of eloquence and should not be an author. I am surprised that the excellent narrator actually managed to get through the book without vomiting from the author's gross verbosity. See, I can also use smart sounding needlessly lengthy sentences to just basically say 'this book was terrible'. Notice how I restrained from using a curse word because I have some sort of appreciation of my potential audience reading this review.... unlike the author's appreciation for his audience. Sadly the poor review is not only for the incoherency of the author but also the content he is trying to convey. I bought this book to explore the other side of the argument for trading through technical analysis. This book has only served to strengthen my belief in that method of trading. He is utterly blinded by his theory of randomness which he completely fails to portray.

3 people found this helpful

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The worst book I have ever had

What I have learned from this book:
1) To aviod unfair trails in courts they should be based on probability not the evidence.
2) The author hates journalists
3) All psychologists and neuroscientists are wrong
4) Research can be based on hypothesis not the evidence
5) and the best one
RUSSIAN LAW IS COMPLICATED AND PROOF OF THAT ACCORDING TO THE AUTHOR? IT IS DIFFICULT TO SPEAK WITH RUSSIAN LAWYERS DUE TO THEIR FOREIGN ACCENT AND VODKA SMELLING BREATHS!!! (the author didn't clariffy if that also applies if the conversation is in their native Russian)

2 people found this helpful

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Pseudo intellectualism

Nassim attempts to criticise other people in his line of work for “scientism” but he himself advocates his idea through this very method. The book at its highest contains high school level knowledge and at its lowest reads like the ranting of a bitter employee jealous that his coworkers are getting ahead of him and waiting for them to fall.

There is very little “rigor” that the author espoused in this book aside from an attempt to cherry pick events from unrelated topics to sell his brand of pseudoscience.

2 people found this helpful

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the most happy arrogant man

a 'story', more an experienced opinion than a thorough argument. There are numerous interesting points raised throught the book. but many of them seem to serve this point; that the 'hords' get rich by chance. and 'the well bred' stay alittle rich by safe investments. With the barely unsaid being, he, the writer, is of value dispite how wealthy people in his life have made him feel.

worth the read, if you after a pithy introduction to math and probability.

but dispite my distaste to his perpective, I appricate some of his insight.

1 person found this helpful

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Not Much Useful for Value Investors

The only thing that could be useful in this book for value investors is its emphasis of trying to estimate the probability of future (independent of the past) expectations of the prospective security.

In my opinion, it's a waste of time and money to buy this book for value investors. There are much better books, such as Invest Like a Guru, that deliver high-quality content, both theoretical and practical.

1 person found this helpful

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Oh come on.

Nothing new. Some interesting perspectives, but having listened to it, I feel I’ve been conned. One great truth poorly illustrated.

1 person found this helpful

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outstanding!

outstanding book. great narration. loved each idea. the book is an eye opener for everyone.

1 person found this helpful

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typical Nassim style and clever writing. i

great book on a difficult topic .

It's hard to follow sometimes but if you have read Nassim before, "the black swan" then you will expect it. reader must be clever too lol

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  • Igor
  • 28-03-19

useless rant

general observation of life on level of teenager mindset. what was the point to state trivial baseless assumptions? pointless blablabla

16 people found this helpful

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  • William
  • 02-03-19

an author high on his own ego.

The narration is excellent but the book itself is poor. The author seems to think that his own original thoughts are superior to published research anywhere the argument is remotely possible. The only thing more annoying in reading such is the faux humility he attempts to dress it in while he argues that he should not be responsible for covering conventional literature, and simultaneously dismissing it

15 people found this helpful

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  • Hardik
  • 02-04-18

Taleb Fooled by his Own Randomness

As someone who reads a lot of books on this and other subjects, I found this to be a waste of time and not deserving of the praise it received.

At first I thought I could appreciate its appeal to those not well versed in the rhetoric of randomness and the inherently faulty mechanisms of human decision making but not all the ideas expressed in the book are accurate and thoroughly vetted, resulting in a lot of misleading conclusions.

As an aside, I personally didn’t enjoy the forced bouts of arrogant condescension towards an unnecessary broad range of professionals. Taleb's Black Swan is a much better read and probabaly his best work (from what I've read)

If you want someone with true mastery to comprehensively guide you through better decision making, read Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Wade T. Brooks
  • 25-06-12

Pass on this one and read The Black Swan

Taleb's master work and must read is The Black Swan (not the movie) and it's amazing. This is a sparse shadow of that book.

43 people found this helpful

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  • Kazuhiko
  • 10-02-13

Fun to listen to

Many reviews of this book point out that the author is arrogant, and I agree, but
this arrogance probably comes from his insecurity of, after all, still being in the
financial industry that he seems to despise. He cannot get out of it.
The issue of "fooled by randomness" applies to so many aspects of life,
not just financial industry. There are some insightful comments in the book.
If you expect to learn many things from this book,
you may be disappointed. For the first couple of hours, his snideness and arrogance
bothered me, but then I began to enjoy listening to this frustrated flawed character
who occasionally speaks truth in a tragicomedy style.

35 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 15-02-13

An Excellent and Worthwhile Book

An interesting book that is enlivened by stories of various traders and insults targeted at journalists, economists, MBAs, and philistines in general. He comes off as kind of arrogant and condesending but since I'm too thick to understand that he's talking about me, I find the irreverent tone rather enjoyable. He does a great job on a difficult topic.

29 people found this helpful

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  • Jack
  • 04-02-14

Commentary too random and disjointed

What disappointed you about Fooled by Randomness?

The theme was both disorganized and too narrowly focused on financial traders? It lacked specific real world cases and examples.

16 people found this helpful

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  • M. Blake
  • 28-05-12

very entertaining and eye opening

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

This is not only entertaining, but enlightening because it illustrates with easily understandable examples, how randomness affects all of us whether we realize it or not. By applying the principles to our own lives, we may be able to understand our behavior and behavior of others better while giving us an advantage over others who do not understand these things. The author is clever in using illustrations to depict some complex statistical ideas and he does so in a very practical and understandable way that even non-math people can understand.
This is not a dry mathematical book but a very enjoyable read/listen. I kept coming back to it again and again just like any good book that keeps you going until it is finished. I enjoyed The Black Swan and this book is no disappointment - definitely recommend.

If you could give Fooled by Randomness a new subtitle, what would it be?

Things you might not realize were randomness and how you deal with it in your life.

3 people found this helpful

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  • M.
  • 15-10-19

An Author I'd Love to Meet...

As an Evolutionary Biologist by training, and a person ruled by chaos; on purpose mind you (I recognized the value randomness early on), this book was as validating as it was fascinating. Taleb is an author I would love to meet. I look forward to reading/listening to all his other books.

2 people found this helpful

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  • m
  • 19-03-19

Content is Obvious-Often Better Lucky then Good.

This book is appropriately titled although the content is obvious and boring. If you have ever said, "Sometimes better lucky then good." then you already read the book. Disappointed as a investor friend had recommended the book. Going to ask to my money back.

2 people found this helpful