-Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (New York: Random House, 2007), p. 234.
- “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.”
- “Mediocristan is where we must endure the tyranny of the collective, the routine, the obvious, and the predicted; Extremistan is where we are subjected to the tyranny of the singular, the accidental, the unseen, and unpredicted. As hard as you try, you will never lose a lot of weight in a single day…If you are subject to Extremistan-based speculation, however, you can gain or lose your entire fortune in a single minute.”
- “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.”
- “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.”
- “The narrative fallacy addresses our limited ability to look at sequences of facts without weaving an explanation into them, or, equivalently, forcing a logical link, an arrow of relationship, upon them. Explanations bind facts together. They make them all the more easily remembered; they help them make more sense. Where this propensity can go wrong is when it increases our impression of understanding.”