Reading report

I just wanted to report that I started to read Nassim Taleb’s brilliant book The Black Swan. A Black Swan, as he defines it, has three attributes:

“First, it is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility. Second, it carries an extreme impact (unlike the bird). Third, in spite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable.”

A good example of a Black Swan is 9/11. I first heard about The Black Swan when I read Dan Kahneman’s latest book Thinking, Fast and Slow. I don’t know why I put it off for so long, perhaps because I thought it would be a dull read concerning probability theory. But Taleb is far from a boring mind. In fact, he is overflowing with interesting insights and his work has a deep, theoretical angle that reveals his familiarity with philosophy. It’s a breath of fresh air, told in narrative form, and given the nature of what a Black Swan is, a highly gripping yarn. Taleb also has a new book coming out called Antifragility, which I will have to pick up when I finish The Black Swan.

In other news, I will be speaking at a conference dedicated to Julian Jaynes next spring, but the paper I submitted to the Central States Philosophical Association  was not accepted. I have also been slacking on my blog writing lately, being consumed with (1) reading (2) chess and (3) working on my qualifying paper. I have some ideas for posts, but I have just been lazy lately and haven’t felt like writing them up. Hopefully my motivation will return before the school year starts, because then I will be even more busy.


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