Summary: Antifragile is a standalone book in Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s landmark Incerto series, an investigation of opacity, luck, uncertainty, probability, human error, risk, and decision-making in a world we don’t understand. The other books in the series are Fooled by Randomness, The Black Swan, and The Bed of Procrustes.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the bestselling author of The Black Swan and one of the foremost thinkers of our time, reveals how to thrive in an uncertain world….Read more.
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Nassim Nicholas Taleb: Antifragile Audio Book Summary
Part philosophical treatise, part mathematical essay, part economic study and part business management guide, Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder, is a book written by author Nassim Nicholas Taleb and published in November of 2012. The work is the fourth volume in a four-part series on uncertainty by Taleb, title Incerto. The other works include Fooled by Randomness, The Black Swan, and The Bed of Procrustes.
According to Taleb, Antifragile is a term coined to represent the set of things that are not only resistant to uncertainty, chaos, or external shocks that might otherwise be destructive, but actually benefit by them. He notes that he believes it odd we have a word, fragile, to express the set of objects that deteriorate from chaos, but not one from those that are strengthened by it. He argues that this class of objects is not simply a form of resilience or robustness, since those terms imply withstanding potentially destructive actions, but not augmenting themselves from it.
Taleb defines the term in a mathematical context as well, referring to a convex response to a source of harm resulting in positive, rather than negative increase, and since its inception the concept has been applied to physics, biology, engineering, software, and risk analysis.
To illustrate and apply the theory, some of the concepts explored in the book include the idea of having “skin in the game,” Via Negativa, the Lindy Effect, the Barbell Strategy, and the Green Lumber Fallacy.
The work received mixed reviews when it was published, with The New York Times deriding it with a slew of epithets, including the label of “erudite and reductive,” to which Taleb responded that the reviewer was so crude as to review a technical topic without seeking specialist advice or even looking up context in Google.
Rave reviews were written by a number of more technical business and economic journals, including The Harvard Business Review, Forbes, The Economist, and Forbes. The book quickly became a bestseller within its niche, and, as stated above, has led to various applications across multiple industries.
Regardless of whether or not the author is correct in his assertions, the book has certainly raised eyebrows in a number of fields, particularly those devoted to finance, economics, and other forms heavily dependent upon risk analysis to achieve profitability. The principal negative reviews of the book have, to a large extent, cited the writing style and near-indecipherability of the text as points against it, rather than engaging the primary theses purported by the author.