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Main Errors in Understanding the Message

Nassin Nicholas Taleb, 2007, The Black Swan, Penguin Books: 331

  1. Mistaking the Black Swan (capitalized) for the logical problem.
  2. Saying the maps we had were better than having no maps.
  3. Thinking that a Black Swan should be a Black Swan to all observers.
  4. Not understanding the value of negative advice ("Don't do")
  5. Not understanding that doing nothing can be much more preferable to doing something potentially harmful.
  6. Applying to my ideas labels (skepticism, fat tails, power laws) off a supermarket shelf and equating those ideas with inadequate research traditions
  7. Thinking that The Black Swan is about the errors of using the bell curve, which supposedly everyone knew about, and that the errors can be remedied by substituting a number from the Mandelbrotian in place of another.
  8. Claiming that "we knew all this" and "there is nothing new" in my idea during 2008, then, of course, going bust during the crisis.
  9. Mistaking my idea for Popper's notion of falsification - or taking any of my ideas and fitting them in a prepackaged category that sounds familiar.
  10. Treating probabilities (of future states) as measurable, like the temperature of your sister's weight.
  11. Spending energy on the difference between ontic and epistemic randomness - true randomness, and randomness that arises from incomplete information - instead of focusing on the more consequential difference between Mediocristan and Extremistan.
  12. Thinking I am saying "Do not forecast" or "Do not use models," rather than "Do not use sterile forecasts with huge error" and "Do not use models in the Fourth Quadrant."
  13. Mistaking what I say for "S**t happens" rather than "this is where s**t happens."