Fooled by Randomness – Nassim Nicholas Taleb Book Summary

Fooled by Randomness – Nassim Nicholas Taleb | Free Book Summary

Fooled by Randomness – Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Fooled by Randomness deals with the fallibility of human knowledge, This book is one of the 75 smartest books of all time for its work on the way humans perceive randomness. The author has come up with various ways through which humans assign meaning to a series of independent random events. The World isn’t what it seems. This book provides a glimpse of the hidden green code of the Matrix.

Fooled by Randomness: The Premise

Randomness, chance, and luck influence our lives and our work more than we realize. Because of hindsight bias and survivorship bias, in particular, we tend to forget the many who fail, remember the few who succeed, and then create reasons and patterns for their success, even though it was largely random.

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Mild success can be explained by skills and hard work, but wild success is usually attributable to variance and luck.

Life isn’t fair, Which Is Great

Many systems we use and live by work in linear fashion, meaning in sequential form, usually in one line. With every day of your work, you move closer to your promotion; when you go to school, you move closer to graduation; with every savings you make, you move closer to your retirement lifestyle; and so on.

Because of all these events, we think that life is linear, or sequential, but that’s not the actual fact.Free book, podcast summaries

We need Irrationality

We need irrationality to make certain decisions.

If we make every single one of our decisions based on rational reasoning, then we may not be able to survive or we will cease to exist. Not every decision or choice can be easy; some choices can be indifferent, like those whose outcome will neither make us feel better nor will be able to make us feel worse.

Any Action Has An Irrational Element

If you want to invest money, thinking rationally like the market can go down or up will not allow you to make a proper decision unless you are slightly irrational.

Randomness is not all bad; it’s harmless too. We need to use randomness better so that it can improve our lives. Some fields, such as art, poetry, humour, and books, cannot function without randomness. Without randomness, there will be no beauty in art; there will be no joy or happiness in these things. In some situations, randomness is good. We can’t let randomness fool us, but the right kind of randomness is good.

The Stoic Attitude

We must understand that random irrational thinking can either be helpful or harmful, and that helpful randomness and irrational behavior thinking will help us improve our lives while harmful randomness and harmful irrational behavior attitude will only make our lives worse. We need to learn to be stoic and distinguish between good and bad randomness.

Stand Out Quotes

  • As much as we want to “keep it simple, stupid” … It is precisely the simplification of issues that are actually very complex, which can be dangerous.
  • Mild success can be explainable by skills and labour. Wild success is attributable to variance.
  • Every man believes that he is quite different.

New Vs Old Ideas

It’s better to value old, distilled thoughts than “new thinking,” because for an idea to last so long, it must be good. That is, old ideas have had to stand the test of time. New ideas have not. Some new ideas will end up lasting, but most will not.

The Real Meaning of Randomness

Randomness means there are some strategies that work well for any given cycle, but these cycles are often short- to medium-term successes. The strategies that work for a given cycle in the short term may not be the best in the long run. They are suboptimal strategies that win over a randomly beneficial short-term cycle.


The same can be said for setting big goals, following a fad diet, chasing an extreme training protocol, and so on. unsustainable and suboptimal for the long term. 

Evolutionary traits that are undesirable can survive for a period of time in any given population.

The Need For Curating Information

The ratio of undistilled information to distilled is rising. Let’s call information that has never had to prove its truth more than once or twice “undistilled”. And information that has been filtered through many years, counterarguments, and situations is distilled. You want more distilled information (concepts that stand the test of time and rigorous analysis) and less undistilled information (the news, reactionary opinions, and “cutting-edge” research).

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