|Nassim Nicholas Taleb|
|Born||1960 (age 56â€“57)
|Residence||United States, United Kingdom, and Lebanon|
|Nationality||Lebanese (Antiochian Greek Origin) and American|
|Fields||Decision theory, risk, probability|
|Institutions||New York University Tandon School of Engineering (current May 2015), University of Massachusetts Amherst, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences|
|Alma mater||University of Paris (BS, MS)
Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania (MBA)
University of Paris (Dauphine) (PhD)
|Thesis||The Microstructure of Dynamic Hedging (1998)|
|Doctoral advisor||HÃ©lyette Geman|
|Known for||Applied epistemology, Antifragility, Black swan theory|
I'm in favour of religion as a tamer of arrogance. For a Greek Orthodox, the idea of God as creator outside the human is not God in God's terms. My God isn't the God of George Bush.
When I trade, I don't have an agency problem; I have my neck on the line. When a bank or banker trades, it's not his neck on the line.
Corporations take the humanity out of trade – they take the happiness out and replace it with something that is ugly.
Poverty is clearly one source of emotional suffering, but there are others, like loneliness.
If you take risks and face your fate with dignity, there is nothing you can do that makes you small; if you don't take risks, there is nothing you can do that makes you grand, nothing.
We know from chaos theory that even if you had a perfect model of the world, you'd need infinite precision in order to predict future events. With sociopolitical or economic phenomena, we don't have anything like that.
Years ago, I noticed one thing about economics, and that is that economists didn't get anything right.
The world we live in is vastly different from the world we think we live in.
The people I go after are the false experts, those who do not accept the limits of their knowledge.
I lift heavy weights and sprint, but I am so bad at it that I develop severe injuries.
You have family-owned businesses that have been around for 500 years. You cannot name a corporation that survives intact for even a few decades.
In the United States, large corporations control some members of Congress. All this does is delay the corporation's funeral at our expense.
Banking is a very treacherous business because you don't realize it is risky until it is too late. It is like calm waters that deliver huge storms.
Failure saves lives. In the airline industry, every time a plane crashes the probability of the next crash is lowered by that. The Titanic saved lives because we're building bigger and bigger ships. So these people died, but we have effectively improved the safety of the system, and nothing failed in vain.
Economics make homeopath and alternative healers look empirical and scientific.
Never take advice from anyone in a tie. They'll bankrupt you. Don't ask a general for advice on war, and don't ask a broker for advice on money.
We are victims of the post-Enlightenment view that the world functions like a sophisticated machine, to be understood like a textbook engineering problem and run by wonks. In other words, like a home appliance, not like the human body.
People have the problem of denial. This is one of the things I learned in Lebanon. Everybody who left Beirut when the war started, including my parents, said, 'Oh, its temporary.' It lasted 17 years! People tend to underestimate the gravity of these situations. That's how they work.
The key to wealth is that it doesn't matter. Once you've had it, you don't think anything of it; you can wear cheap watches.
I hated school because I liked to daydream and the system tried to stop me from that.
Most people are sceptical about the wrong things and gullible about the wrong things.
A good maxim allows you to have the last word without even starting a conversation.
Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg didn't finish college. Too much emphasis is placed on formal education – I told my children not to worry about their grades but to enjoy learning.
What we do today has nothing to do with capitalism or socialism. It is a crony type of system that transfers money to the coffers of bureaucrats.
Globalization has created this interlocking fragility. At no time in the history of the universe has the cancellation of a Christmas order in New York meant layoffs in China.
Success is about honour, feeling morally calibrated, absence of shame, not what some newspaper defines from an external metric.
We have this culture of financialization. People think they need to make money with their savings rather with their own business. So you end up with dentists who are more traders than dentists. A dentist should drill teeth and use whatever he does in the stock market for entertainment.
The Internet allows the small guy a global marketplace. But technology is harmful in the sense that we get too much information from it. Because of the web we get 10 times the amount of noise we ever got, which makes harmful fallacies far more likely.
I'm a capitalist but one who is smallist and localist, and who favours businesses where owners are still in charge.
There are two types of people: those who try to win and those who try to win arguments. They are never the same.
Nobody reads the disclosures that roll down your computer screen. You click 'I agree' but you don't know what you're agreeing to.
I don't know anyone on Wall Street who goes to work every day thinking of anything but how to increase their bonus.
I drive a hybrid, moving into an electric car. I only drink tap water, never consume food that's travelled.
Writing is sacred, other activities are profane, and I don't want them to corrupt my writing.
You will get the most attention from those who hate you. No friend, no admirer and no partner will flatter you with as much curiosity.
It might be useful to be able to predict war. But tension does not necessarily lead to war, but often to peace and to denouement.
Individuals should think about the worst-case scenarios and plan for them. The world will be crazier than you think it will be. Put money away, and then you can live with much more freedom.
When you write, you don't have the social constraints of having people in front of you, so you talk about abstract matters.
Capitalism is about adventurers who get harmed by their mistakes, not people who harm others with their mistakes.
The American people will eventually get hurt by this accumulated deficit. That's the problem. We have too much deficit. We have to find a solution.
I don't read the papers; I stopped reading the papers. I read the papers only during periods of crisis, and I think papers are too long on a regular day and too short days when we have a crisis.
When you ask people, 'What's the opposite of fragile?,' they tend to say robust, resilient, adaptable, solid, strong. That's not it. The opposite of fragile is something that gains from disorder.
Never think that lack of variability is stability. Don't confuse lack of volatility with stability, ever.
Deficits are like putting dynamite in the hands of children. They can get out of control very quickly.
The track record of economists in predicting events is monstrously bad. It is beyond simplification; it is like medieval medicine.
The mortgage crisis is a clear instance of consumers who needed protection. There was predatory lending to people who didn't know what they were doing.
If you are in banking and lending, surprise outcomes are likely to be negative for you.
For many people, commuting is the worst part of the day, and policies that can make commuting shorter and more convenient would be a straightforward way to reduce minor but widespread suffering.
We should ban banks from risk-taking because society is going to pay the price.
Nature builds things that are antifragile. In the case of evolution, nature uses disorder to grow stronger. Occasional starvation or going to the gym also makes you stronger, because you subject your body to stressors and gain from them.
Poverty is clearly one source of emotional suffering, but there are others, like loneliness.
I select a very small number of things to be sceptical about, such as markets, and on these I am hypersceptic. But I want to be fooled by randomness in art. I want the ceremonial of religion; we are made for it.
If I ask you to write down the last 4 digits of your social security number, and then take you out to lunch and ask you how many dentists there are in Manhattan, there's going to be a high correlation between those two numbers. What happens is that the number psychologically makes you feel confident.
You are rich if and only if money you refuse tastes better than money you accept.
I no longer care about the financial system. I gave them my roadmap. OK? Thanks, bye. I've no idea what's going on. I'm disconnected. I'm totally disengaged.
You know, children philosophize more than adults – and they are critical of adults.
I am happy everywhere except in places where I see glitz and rich farts. I am happiest in Brooklyn, where the concentration of rich farts is minimal.
In social policy, when we provide a safety net, it should be designed to help people take more entrepreneurial risks, not to turn them into dependents. This doesn't mean that we should be callous to the underprivileged.
A country's assets reside in the tinkerers, the hobbyists, and the risk-takers.
The best philosophers were not academics, but had another job, so their philosophy was not corrupted by careerism.
Being an economist is the least ethical profession, closer to charlatanism than any science.
I don't go to the doctor except when I'm very ill, and when I go to India, I drink a drop of local water.
We humans lack imagination, to the point of not even knowing what tomorrow's important things will look like.
People employed in financial institutions are rarely interesting and even more rarely likable.
Most so-called writers keep writing and writing with the hope, some day, to find something to say.
The next time you experience a blackout, take some solace by looking at the sky. You will not recognize it.
If you are an Arabic-speaking, Greek-Orthodox going to a French school it makes you deeply sceptical if you have to listen to three different accounts of the Crusades – one from the Muslim side, one from the Greek side and one from the Catholic side.
I've been telling anyone willing to listen that banks have a tendency to sit on time bombs while convincing themselves that they are conservative and nonvolatile.