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Nassim Nicholas Taleb Podcasts

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28 of The Best Podcast Episodes for Nassim Nicholas Taleb. A collection of podcasts episodes with or about Nassim Nicholas Taleb, often where they are interviewed.

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28 of The Best Podcast Episodes for Nassim Nicholas Taleb. A collection of podcasts episodes with or about Nassim Nicholas Taleb, often where they are interviewed.

Updated daily with the latest episodes

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Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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In this episode, Erik Rostad discusses book 27 of 52 from his 2020 Reading ListAntifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

Show Notes

The post Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb appeared first on Books of Titans.

Sep 11 2020 · 39mins
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23 : Nassim Nicholas Taleb – Randomness and the world around you

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Yes, we are returning to the author we mention in almost all episodes to discuss his first-ever book. A quick note to apologise about the gaps between us speaking, our internet connection was pretty unstable when we were recording this.

Today’s episode is inspired by book Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

[[1S]] What Taleb recommends you avoid - We talk about some advice from Nassim Nicholas Taleb about what you should avoid...

 [[2S]] Dentists vs Stockbrokers We talk about different types of random environments and how it relates to careers.

 [[3S]] The birthday paradox - We talk about why things that seem completely random are not quite as they seem.

As with each episode, we pluck out what most resonated from the book and how we would like to bring it into our lives.

Show notes, books mentioned and all episodes can be found at: http://abstractable.co/

We hope you enjoy.


Subscribe to receive new episodes weekly. Watch video of episodes on our YouTube channel - Abstractable

Aug 23 2020 · 1hr 13mins

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Nassim Nicholas Taleb on the Pandemic

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Nassim Nicholas Taleb talks about the pandemic with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Topics discussed include how to handle the rest of this pandemic and the next one, the power of the mask, geronticide, and soul in the game.
Jul 27 2020 · 1hr 7mins
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The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb | Summary | Free Audiobook

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The Impact of the Highly Improbable.

Just because you haven’t seen something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, right? Well, Nassim Nicholas Taleb uses this exact logic to explain the Black Swans that happen in our society. A Black Swan is an improbable or highly unlikely event that has three principal characteristics. The first two are that it is unpredictable and it carries a massive impact. The third is the ability to construct an explanation after the fact to make it appear less random, and more predictable. Think of events like 9/11 or the invention of Google. These Black Swans, while unpredictable and impactful, could easily be explained in the moments following the event. Black Swans like these underlie almost everything about the world. But why can’t we acknowledge them until after they occur? Well, according to Taleb, humans are simply hardwired to focus on the details rather than see the big picture. We concentrate only on what we know and understand; therefore, we are unable to conceptualize the impossible. As you read, you’ll learn that we can learn a thing or two from turkeys, you'll see how a casino's greatest threat isn't high-rolling gamblers, and how focusing on what we don't know is critical for making informed decisions.


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Jul 25 2020 · 21mins

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12. Skin in the Game - Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life, is a 2018 nonfiction book by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a former options trader with a background in the mathematics of probability and statistics.

Taleb's thesis is that skin in the game -- i.e., having a measurable risk when taking a major decision -- is necessary for fairness, commercial efficiency, and risk management, as well as being necessary to understand the world. The book is the last part of Taleb's multi-volume philosophical essay on uncertainty, titled the Incerto.


Another classic book from Taleb. He makes a sound argument for alignment of inscentives and why many problems in the world come from people not having skin in the game.

Key Idea

If an actor pockets some rewards from a policy they enact or support without accepting any of the risks, economists consider it to be a problem of "missing incentives". In contrast, to Taleb, the problem is more fundamentally one of asymmetry: one actor gets the rewards, the other is stuck with the risks.[1]

Taleb argues that "For social justice, focus on symmetry and risk sharing. You cannot make profits and transfer the risks to others, as bankers and large corporations do... Forcing skin in the game corrects this asymmetry better than thousands of laws and regulations."

The centrality of negative incentives
Actors - per Taleb - must bear a cost when they fail the public. A fund manager that gets a percentage on wins, but no penalty for losing is incentivized to gamble with his clients funds. Bearing no downside for one's actions means that one has no "Skin In The Game", which is the source of many evils.

An evolutionary process is an additional argument for SITG. Those who err and have SITG will not survive, hence evolutionary processes will eliminate (physically or figuratively by going bankrupt etc) those tending to do stupid things. Without SITG, this process cannot work.

Robert Rubin, a highly-paid director and senior advisor at Citigroup, paid no financial penalty when Citigroup had to be rescued by U.S. taxpayers due to overreach. Taleb calls this sort of a trade, with upside gain but no or limited downside risk, a "Bob Rubin trade."

Intellectual Yet Idiot

Intellectual Yet Idiot (IYI) is a term coined by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his essay by the same name that refers to the semi-intelligent well-pedigreed "who are telling us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think… and 5) who to vote for".

They represent a very small minority of people but have an overwhelming impact on the vast majority because they affect government policy. IYI are often policy makers, academics, journalists, and media pundits.

Some favourite quotes

  • The knowledge we get by tinkering, via trial and error, experience, and the workings of time, in other words, contact with the earth, is vastly superior to that obtained through reasoning, something self-serving institutions have been very busy hiding from us.
  • Bureaucracy is a construction by which a person is conveniently separated from the consequences of his or her actions.
  • Avoid taking advice from someone who gives advice for a living, unless there is a penalty for their advice.
  • Seeing the psychologist Steven Pinker making pronouncements about things intellectual has a similar effect to encountering a drive-in Burger King while hiking in the middle of a national park.
  • Evidence of submission is displayed by the employee’s going through years depriving himself of his personal freedom for nine hours every day, his ritualistic and punctual arrival at an office, his denying himself his own schedule, and his not having beaten up anyone on the way back home after a bad day. He is an obedient, housebroken dog.
  • What we saw worldwide from 2014 to 2018, from India to the U.K. to the U.S., was a rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking “clerks” and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy League, Oxford-Cambridge or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think, and… 5) whom to vote for.
  • People who are bred, selected, and compensated to find complicated solutions do not have an incentive to implement simplified ones.
  • If your private life conflicts with your intellectual opinion, it cancels your intellectual ideas, not your private life.
  • Survival comes first, truth, understanding, and science later.
Jun 07 2020 · 36mins
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11. Antifragile - Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Nassim Nicholas Taleb present a blueprint of how to live in a 'Black Swan' world.

He begins the book:

"Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty. Yet, in spite of the ubiquity of the phenomenon, there is no word for the exact opposite of fragile. Let us call it antifragile. Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better"

He spends the rest of the book explaining how to become antifragile. It is a great resource for anyone wanting to have greater control on a random world and to grow stronger as things go wrong.


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May 20 2020 · 57mins
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9. The Black Swan - Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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The Black Swan focuses on the extreme impact of rare and unpredictable outlier events — and the human tendency to find simplistic explanations for these events, retrospectively.

It was published in 2007, by author and former options trader Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

Coronavirus and Pandemics

This book is extremely poigniant for understanding the Coronavirus pandemic and it's effects. In the book he explains why we would be caught unawares by such an event and why we should build robust systems for events like this. During the discussion on the show we talk through a lot of the ideas he explains in relations to how it can help with the current situation and building robust systems for future events that we can not predict.


A central idea in Taleb's book is not to attempt to predict Black Swan events, but to build robustness to negative events and an ability to exploit positive events. Taleb contends that banks and trading firms are vulnerable to hazardous Black Swan events and are exposed to losses beyond those predicted by their defective financial models.

The book asserts that a "Black Swan" event depends on the observer: for example, what may be a Black Swan surprise for a turkey is not a Black Swan surprise for its butcher. Hence the objective should be to "avoid being the turkey", by identifying areas of vulnerability in order to "turn the Black Swans white".


Taleb has referred to the book as an essay or a narrative with one single idea: "our blindness with respect to randomness, particularly large deviations." The book moves from literary subjects in the beginning to scientific and mathematical subjects in the later portions. Part One and the beginning of Part Two delve into psychology. Taleb addresses science and business in the latter half of Part Two and Part Three. Part Four contains advice on how to approach the world in the face of uncertainty and still enjoy life.

The book has been described by The Sunday Times as one of the twelve most influential books since World War II. As of 2019, it has been cited approximately 10,000 times, 9,000 of which are for the English-language edition (we can expect a lot more after the Coronavirus event). The book spent 36 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list;17 as hardcover and 19 weeks as paperback. It was published in 32 languages.

May 07 2020 · 40mins
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84. Skin in the Game by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Nassim Nicholas Taleb is a former options trader who noticed that the financial markets were unstable ahead of the crash in 2008, and made a lot of money from shorting the market (betting that it would crash). Since then, he has written a quadrilogy of books on risk and decision-making under uncertainty which he calls the incerto. The books in the series are Fooled by Randomness, The Black Swan, Antifragile, and the one I cover in this episode, Skin in the Game. At least two of his books - The Black Swan and Antifragile - have now made it as concepts and vocabulary of popular parlance. 

Taleb is a very well-read and insightful author. He follows a philosophy of education in the extremes - a combination of long library visits and street fights, to paraphrase his own description. More accurately, he spent much of his teenage years reading stacks of books at home while bombs went off outside, as he was a civilian during the Lebanese Civil War. His writing has generated a following, and his erudition inspired me years ago to try to read as much as I could - something that ultimately influenced my decision to start this podcast.

Taleb's writing is fiery, to say the least, as he pulls no punches to those who he finds morally abhorrent, which seems to be a large section of the population. His favourite targets are economists and journalists, and in a way that is what Skin in the Game is all about - the moral peril of people who don't take risks.

The reason for covering this book on the podcast is quite self-reflective. If education commentators aren't teachers themselves, if they don't have to test their ideas by actually carrying them out and seeing them succeed or fail, if it doesn't hurt them when they are wrong, then what's to stop them blindly commentating with full confidence, even if they don't know what they're talking about? What's to stop them bullshitting their way to fame and fortune? What's to stop them polluting the idea space with worthless junk to make themselves sound good?

This is exactly the sort of trap that I feel that some commentators may have fallen into - and one that I am in danger of falling into myself. As I enter the first year in almost a decade when I am not teaching in any capacity, might I lose contact with reality? Might I not end up selling snake oil? The danger is real.

So, this episode is largely a moral discussion, as well as a personal reflection. I think we should be aware of the effect that risk profiles have on the incentives of people within a particular domain - in this case, education.

Enjoy the episode.

Mar 30 2020 · 25mins
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Risk - Nassim Nicholas Taleb & Rory Sutherland

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Rohan Silva and his guests discuss the idea of 'skin in the game' and how it looks in our modern world. They consider associated economic terms such as incentives, accountability, and transfer of risks. More specifically, they discuss what it is that determines the long-term success of an idea and the often contradictory social and scientific factors at play.
Mar 20 2020 · 29mins
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#2 Nassim Nicholas Taleb - The most important concept of the 2000's - Black Swan Events

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In this episode, Ryan and Lach discuss the book The Black Swan by Nassim Nicolas Taleb. 

A topic that is particularly relevant given what the world is currently dealing with in regards to COVID-19.

 They discuss his formative years growing up in Lebanon and his work in the US working as a "quant" on Wall St. Most importantly, they discuss his Black Swan Theory of extreme random events. 

They believe truly taking the time to understand the concepts he discusses will have a profound effect on how you understand and think about the world around you. Also, these ideas will continue to become more important as the world becomes more interconnected. 


Nassim Nicholas Taleb - The Black Swan (Ep. 002 Abstractable) 

00:00 - Opening remarks  

00:54 - The Book 

01:51 - Reading vs Listen to podcast 

04:58 - Context of the book release 

07:50 - The author: Nassim Nicholas Taleb 

31:24 - The F*** You Money 

34:36 - How Do You Know When You Know Something? 

43:04 - Most sciences come from technology, not technology coming from science. 

44:30 - What is a Black Swan? 

55:16 - How Can We Use The Black Swan? 

1:09:10 - Wrap up 


We hope you enjoy.

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Mar 15 2020 · 1hr 22mins