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  • Writer's pictureNishant Mittal

4th book of 2020: Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Taleb

After finishing #MidnightsChildren, I cried for hours and days without a pause. It gave me joy to imagine an alternate reality where I was born Russian (or even Chinese) and didn't know how to read English. For a long time, all I did was imagine possibilities of not knowing how to read, just to have avoided reading that piece of shit.

But I'm redeemed now. I'm happy with this current reality of being a middle class (but extremely ambitious) Indian guy with average looks and above average vocabulary (and style). I'm super stoked to take on the world with my (unreliable) intelligence, and quite importantly - flair for spoken and written English. What changed, you might ask? I've read Taleb.

This is the book which I picked up in 2012 and left mid-way. It was my introduction to Nassim Taleb and I was left quite offended and distraught. So much that I couldn't read beyond the first 50 pages. Why? Because it told me to "take one's knowledge less seriously", and telling me that in 2012 was like asking Pope to convert to Islam. I dropped it and started reading something else which told me what I wanted to hear. I don't remember what that was, though.

Fooled by Randomness is Taleb's first and my least favourite amongst his all. Yet, it'd easily be on my highest shelf. No doubts about that. It talks about how we misjudge randomness and how it plays out in a lot of places including financial markets of the world. It's an extremely smart and demanding book which could potentially be life changing for a lot of us.

Taleb asks you to not predict, but here's a prediction I'm willing to put real money on: Taleb's thoughts and ideas will gain even more importance than that of Karl Marx in times to come. He's already the ideological fountainhead of so many greats. It's just a matter of time that he reaches our textbooks, directly or indirectly.

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