Black Swan - Chapter VII
Series of Summaries on Taleb's work
In this edition, we look at Chapter VII - ‘Living in the Antechamber of Hope’. Imo, this chapter doesn’t carry much weight, and can be skipped.
Taleb summarises Dino Buzzati’s Il Deserto Dei Tartari where the hero spends 35 years waiting for war in a deserted outpost, only to die the moment there is action there. He argues that an important attribute of Black Swan, either positive or negative, is that there is an asymmetry of consequences.
Success is concentrated and you need only a few big wins and not multiple small wins. This causes two problems - society believes that to be successful means to be rewarded regularly and our hormones need tangible and steady results. Further, business bets which lose small yet consistently, but win big though infrequently, are worth making if you have the personal and intellectual stamina. However, due to the psychological difficulty of delayed gratification, it is very hard to place such bets. While making such bets, exposure to high levels of information, such as repeatedly checking your investment portfolio, may poison in your life.
This chapter also contains an unnecessary autobiography of Taleb’s life (although the protagonist here is called Nero) which does not strengthen any argument.
I hope you enjoyed this edition.