Black Swan - Chapter VIII
Series of Summaries on Taleb's work
In this edition, we are looking at Chapter VIII of The Black Swan - ‘Giacomo Casanova's Unfailing Luck: The Problem of Silent Evidence’. Taleb states that silent evidence is hidden from us by Black Swans of history. Ignoring silent evidence furthers our problems when we analyse winner takes all professions.
One major argument that Taleb makes is that when we tend to ignore silent evidence, there is not much value to reading success stories. While courage, curiosity, and character are common qualities in success stories, we cannot imply causation when we have not looked at the thousands of ‘failures’ and seen what roles these qualities played in their life.
He shows how the idea of beginners luck in gamblers is misplaced. Gamblers who have luck when they start are likely to continue gambling, revert to the mean and fail, while people who were unlucky when they started are unlikely to continue and they fade away. This gives us the impression that gamblers are lucky when they begin and their luck reduces with time.