-Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (New York: Random House, 2007), p.35.
- “In refusing to run to catch trains, I have felt the true value of elegance and aesthetics in behavior, a sense of being in control of my time, my schedule, and my life. 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. You stand above the rat race and the pecking order, not outside it, if you do so by choice.”
- “…Gaussian-bell curve variations face a headwind that makes probabilities drop at a faster and faster rate as you move away from the mean, while ‘scalables,’ or Mandelbrotian variations, do not have such a restriction.”
- “The way to avoid the ills of the narrative fallacy is to favor experimentation over storytelling, experience over history, and clinical knowledge over theories…Being empirical does not mean running a laboratory in one’s basement: it is just a mind-set that favors a certain class of knowledge over others. I do not forbid myself from using the word cause, but the causes I discuss are either bold speculations (presented as such) or the result of experiments, not stories. Another approach is to predict and keep a tally of the predictions.”
- “There are two possible ways to approach phenomena. The first is to rule out the extraordinary and focus on the ‘normal.’ The examiner leaves aside ‘outliers’ and studies ordinary cases. The second approach is to consider that in order to understand a phenomenon, one needs first to consider the extremes—particularly if, like the Black Swan, they carry an extraordinary cumulative effect.”
- “Many people labor in life under the impression that they are doing something right, yet they may not show solid results for a long time. They need a capacity for continuously adjourned gratification to survive a steady diet of peer cruelty without becoming demoralized. They look like idiots to their cousins, they look like idiots to their peers, they need courage to continue. No confirmation comes to them, no validation, no fawning students, no Nobel, no Shnobel. ‘How was your year?’ brings them a small but containable spasm of pain deep inside, since almost all of their years will seem wasted to someone looking at their life from the outside. Then bang, the lumpy event comes that brings them grand vindication. Or it may never come.”