Sunday, July 5, 2015

Review of The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

It's pretty arrogant to write a book of your own aphorisms (rather than letting posterity select them from your body of work), but Taleb is a pretty arrogant guy. He and Donald Trump should be a presidential ticket.

There are a handful of worthwhile aphorisms in The Bed of Procrustes, and since the guy wants to be remembered for them, I'll repeat them:

  • Nothing is more permanent than 'temporary' arrangements, deficits, truces, and relationships; and nothing is more temporary than 'permanent' ones.
  • The test of whether you really liked a book is if you reread it (and how many times)...
  • We ask 'why is he rich (or poor)?' not 'why isn't he richer (or poorer)?'; 'why is the crisis so deep?' not 'why isn't it deeper?'
  • You remember emails you sent that were not answered better than emails that you did not answer.
  • People focus on role models; it is more effective to find antimodels - people you don't want to resemble when you grow up.
  • Only in recent history has 'working hard' signaled pride rather than shame for lack of talent and finesse.
  • Some books cannot be summarized (real literature, poetry); some can be compressed to about ten pages; the majority to zero pages. 
These are good, but at the same time, for a guy who has a book of aphorisms his aphorisms are not quoted that often.



CP said...

Nassim NicholنTaleb
Overcoming my distate for Donald Trump to marvel at how a free man behaves. I wish there was a more attractive/intelligent version.
10:18 AM - 29 Jun 2015

CP said...

Modeled Behavior
‏@ModeledBehavior Modeled Behavior retweeted Nassim NicholنTaleb
Trump/Taleb 2016 ticket

Anonymous said...

Taleb is the worst. He build himself a hammer, then designates everything as a nail.

CP said...

Anonymous said...

"You remember emails you sent that were not answered better than emails that you did not answer."

What is so special about emails? This applies to remember the time someone insulted you better than the time you insulted someone else, you remember a compliment you received better than a compliment that you gave someone, etc etc.