Aphorisms of Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Your reputation is harmed the most by what you say to defend it.

Quite revealing of human preferences that more suicides come from shame or loss of financial and social status than medical diagnoses.

They will envy you for your success, for your wealth, for your intelligence, for your looks, for your status — but rarely for your wisdom.

You attribute your successes to skills, but your failures to randomness.

It takes both insight and character to know the value of what you have before you lose it.

My measure of success is how much time you have to kill.

Games were created to give non-heroes the illusion of winning.  In real life, you don’t know who really won or lost (except too late), but you can tell who is heroic and who is not.

You will gain the most attention from those who hate you.  No friend, no admirer and no partner will flatter you with as much curiosity.

Randomness is indistinguishable from complicated, undetected order, but order itself is indistinguishable from artful randomness.

The rationalist imagines an imbecile-free society; the empiricist an imbecile-proof one or even better, a rationalist-proof one.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb describes himself as a “literary essayist and mathematical trader.”  He is known for two books, Fooled By Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets and The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. The aphorisms are from his latest book, The Bed of Procrustes:  Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms (which I haven’t read).

Click on Fooled By Randomness for Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s web site.

Click on Ten Principles for a Black Swan-proof world for more of his sayings.

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