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Fooled by Randomness

The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets
Written by: Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Narrated by: Sean Pratt
Length: 10 hrs and 3 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (43 ratings)

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Publisher's 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 members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Great storytelling, good outline,not as much depth

Really enjoyed this book. a fun, smooth read.

The storytelling and narrative is great. The author gives a good outline of what is wrong with our decision making framework, hints at reasons behind the same, exemplifies it.

Although some techniques are mentioned on bypassing those impulses yet there is much to be desired in terms of depth. In the end I'm afraid this may end up being a book whose summary is much needed and remembered, but the details are forgotten like those self-help books that the author rightly derided.

But I did end up taking away many concepts and writers I'd like to read up on. Seneca the stoic, Mandelbrot's mathematics, Popper and the general idea of probability-vs-risk and how the former is a misfit in today's economic estimation.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Insightful

I strongly disagree with a lot of the reviewers who call Taleb pompous/arrogant. On the contrary he is someone who knows and acknowledges his limitations. In fact his closing words in the book about how one should conduct themselves with dignity just shows how wise the man is. Also, he always backs his claims with compelling arguments. For e.g lot of people complained about his claim that many millionaires become so by pure luck. He even gives you a thought experiment to show why that is true.
Only thing you may have to get used to is his style of writing and Nassim clearly calls this out at the beginning. If you are looking for a flow you may be disappointed. Look at it as tidbits of information interspersed across the book. Once you get over that and if you read this with an open mind, there is a wealth of information you will find in this book. Without a doubt one of the better books I have read written by an extremely intelligent, intellectual and wise man. A must read!

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    4 out of 5 stars

A completely radical perception of Life itself.

It is more of a spiritual dose rather than a scientific or a mathematical models of probability and randomness. A much needed work for current information age.!!!

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A seminal work of our age

The book is brilliant beyond words recommended for everyone who likes to think, and the narration is award-worthy.

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An engaging perspective

The book through its many short narratives within each chapter gives a remarkably different but logical perspective on life, events around and on people's behaviour. Light shed on impact of randomness on success and black swan on failure is thought provoking

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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.

29 of 33 people found this review 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.

26 of 30 people found this review 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.

25 of 29 people found this review helpful

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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

4 of 4 people found this review 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

4 of 4 people found this review 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.

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Ken Premo
  • 26-03-14

Great information but...

I really enjoyed the ideas put forward in this book and I think it is very important that randomness and statistics be better understood in society. That said, the author of the book is long-winded, imperious, and extremely self focused. "I" is the most common word used throughout the book while the author disdains his fellow traders on Wall Street, his fellow MBA's, and his fellow academics.

If you can get past the author, the ideas and information of the book is worth the effort.

7 of 8 people found this review 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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Francis
  • 27-03-19

Fooled by Baloney

A condescending and contemptuous book, of little to no value, written by an arrogant and envious man and read by an exceptionally talented reader. Another book that should have been an article. And a short one at that. I’ll save you some time with this summary (Spoiler Alert): Most successful people were just lucky. The end.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Marink
  • 08-03-11

interesting book

An interesting book from a very cocky author. Taleb hits important points. I believe if I had read this book earlier in my life, it could have saved me from some of the mistakes that I made. The book is a must for any trader given that it works like a medicin to desinflate one's ego. Still, I believe that the author overestimates the impact of randomness, but just by making the reader aware of its presence and importance, makes it worthwhile the read!!!!!

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Phil
  • 31-12-18

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Ben Stubbens
  • 21-02-17

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

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Ritam
  • 09-09-18

outstanding!

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

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-11-19

Brilliant!

This is definitely the best book I’ve read/listen this year. The recording has many jumps, blank gaps and issues though. So I had to buy the hard copy version to read along, which turned to be a good decision.

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  • Sarah Ray
  • 31-07-19

Incredible book

Very thought provoking and applicable to situations far beyond that of the market. might be worth understanding the concept of MCMC.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 21-07-19

Oh come on.

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

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  • nat
  • 20-04-19

Absolutely must - read

This book is very well written, tapping the most important and relevant issues of logic science. The author addresses the probability issues from many perspectives, starting with reviewing existing philosophy and adding his own interpretation bucked up with multiple examples. It took me a while to listen to this book and I think for this deep analytic thinking one would benefit of printed version. So I definitely recommend!

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  • Joseph Vose
  • 27-02-19

Great book

This book is massively insightful and entertaining, anyone with an interest in finance or evne the sciences should listen to this

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  • Chris
  • 22-02-19

Amazing

An amazing insight into randomness and statistics a must for anyone doing anything!! Plus some great examples that anyone can understand

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  • Chris
  • 24-10-18

good book but some irritating aspects

the central theme of people retrofitting narrative to random events was fascinating and chimed with what you hear in the news, at work and following sport. There was plenty I had heard in other books particularly around irrational behaviours which is a taking interesting area. what detracted somewhat from the book was the first person ranting of person who clearly has a number of chips on their should and who comes across rather arrogant and socially awkward. This shouldn't really affect the listen however I found the style of writing made it difficult to ignore and I almost have up somewhere in the middle. glad I finished it though.

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  • James
  • 18-10-18

Great book BUT...

I really enjoyed this book, but unfortunately the chapters are not in the correct order on Audible.
The Audible recoding start around chapter 4, goes through to the end of the book and then starts the beginning of the book.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Cam Liston
  • 10-07-17

Arrogance & Interest

The supreme arrogance of NNT in this audiobook is nauseating but the content is very interesting.

The recording is great quality but the chapter breakdown is poor (long silences).

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-05-18

Toi much rambling

Some good thoughts here and there, but his style is too rambling and he puts others down too much. A book written by a person who likes to be smarter than everybody else.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 14-01-17

best audio book i use for motivation !

I perhaps admire taleb a bit more than others. i like his honesty , polymath view of world , mainly from philosophy maths .. a joy to listen over and over again

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 22-01-19

Good Read, take your time with it

Very nice, only qualm is the large silent pausea between chapters - unless that's intended so the beginning the next chapter is... unpredictable

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Thomas Michl
  • 19-10-18

inflated story by an unlikeable storyteller

The book contains some well thought through ideas but presents little to no hard evidence as most ideas are thought experiments. Furthermore, the author gives out unsolicited personal opinions which come across as very arrogant and single minded. Overall, this book could be easily shortened to a fifth of its volume without losing any of its content.

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  • Cedric Hodges
  • 30-08-18

Some good stuff

Some real gems in here and the performance is good, but in typical NTT fashion there is a bunch of rubbish annecdotes and petty swipes at people.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 29-07-18

Amazing insights on markets, economy and humans

Incredibly insightful and powerful commentary - a must for business and ordinary people. This will challenge your thinking and push you to re-evaluate your biases.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Foad Amini
  • 19-05-17

Great book

Any additional comments?

Some great advice's.
The narrator was easy to listen to; personally i found that it was better on 1.25x speed.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful