I read the first positive review by Aaron C. Brown that came up on Amazon for Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s new book Anti-fragile: Things That Gain from Disorder, and captured few points not just about the new book but how this book builds on Taleb’s popular book The Black Swan. Just as others probably do when browsing on the net, you go from one review to other or one blog post to another, until you believe you have quality and quantity of information that is consumable now, or bookmark them for possible use for tomorrow. My son shared this with me earlier today that he likes to connect his life events to something happening in the world – connect the dots and make it more story like – his blog posts are here. And I like to connect too to stitch a good story – but it is little more effort than it for him I think. But the outcome is the same – connect the dots to weave a story – that helps us move along the journey to future – everybody’s appetite to consume & relate stories is different.
Most people don’t really think much about how they learn. Generally you assume learning comes naturally. You listen to someone speak either in conversation or in a lecture and you simply absorb what they are saying, right? Not really. In fact, I find as I get older that real learning takes more work. It takes time for me to stitch because I belabor the implications of putting my thoughts in public forum. The more I fill my brain with facts, figures, and experience, the less room I have for new ideas and new thoughts. Plus, now I have all sorts of opinions that may refute the ideas being pushed at me. Like many people I consider myself a lifelong learner, but more and more I have to work hard to stay open minded. Black swan, Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, Anti-fragile are the kind of books I have to read to get new ideas, test my assumptions in the changing world where new ideas pop up every day; and incorporating them into life & business keeps me engaged and relevant.
Reading to Learn is the method I use to stay open and impressionable. Now coming back to Black Swan & Anti-Fragile.. As I started reviewing the blogs & review of Black Swan & Anti-Fragile – I noted the following -
“Black swan advice is about avoiding predictable disaster caused by unpredictable events, and keeping yourself open to positive outcomes from improbable events.
Anti-fragile complements The Black Swan by celebrating systems that gain from disorder, trading away short-term predictability and micro-rationality for long-term success exploiting macro-unpredictability. It’s a bold attitude, amply supported by argument and example from many fields. ….. On one level, the universe (at least as perceived by humans) is ruled by disorder, but on another level, the crucial elements are those that gain from disorder as eventually these are fitter for survival than any element, however strong, that requires order.”
David Aldous review of The Black Swan is here. Taleb’s summary (also captured in David’s review) of themes related to Black Swans:
- We focus on preselected segments of the seen and generalize from it to the unseen: the error of confirmation.
- We fool ourselves with stories that cater to our Platonic thirst for distinct patterns: the narrative fallacy.
- We behave as if the Black Swan does not exist; human nature is not programmed for Black Swans.
- What we see is not necessarily all that is there. History hides Black Swans from us [if they didn't happen] and gives a mistaken idea about the odds of these events: this is the distortion of silent evidence.
- We "tunnel": that is, we focus on a few well-defined sources of uncertainty, on too specific a list of Black Swans (at the expense of others that do not come so readily to mind).
How do you learn to stay open, engaged & relevant? Do you get drawn to the error of confirmation, and the narrative fallacy? How do you mine and use the silent evidence?