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Learnings from reading the Incerto

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Well, it took me a year, but, I’m finally done with every part of the Incerto apart from the technical companion ( which I intend to read )

I think I’m going to do this in two parts because there’s just so much that I’ve taken away from reading the books in the series.

I read the books in the order of my interest in them.

The context is quite important to understand my motivations for reading the work.

As I had detailed in living with loss, I had been dealing with multiple personal Black Swans in a short period of time. The events were : unpredictable, uncertain, random, highly impactful, negative, and wiped out all previous gains.

So, imagine my surprise when I read a book written by a trader, mathematician, flaneur that talked to me about exactly what I was going through. I was hooked.

In some sense I was searching for meaning in the book, hoping it would help me explain the events. Taleb quickly flipped the world in a few chapters and prevented me from making that mistake.

Black Swan was a real eye opener for me, what I gained personally out of it is fantastic.

What the books are about

The truth is, the books are about several things, far too many to put into a single post.

But, on a fundamental level, the books are about 5 concepts.

Bear in mind, this is my take on it, i.e what I took away from the books, these might not be authors stated concepts themselves.

  1. Our fragile understanding of probability and the pitfalls of putting this understanding into practice
  2. A take on Stoicism that enables one to be a person of action ( I found echoes of this in the Gita )
  3. Cognitive biases, Scienticism ( the pretend sciencing of everything ) without allowing for the Scientific method to take root and, the people who take advantage of it
  4. The concept of ‘Skin in the Game’ and, how to identify and protect yourself/use leverage in situations where there is an asymmetry in upside vs downside
  5. Finally, the concept that spoke to me the most, Antifragility : The opposite of fragility is not robust, but, Antifragility. Here’s what I’ve learned from the Incerto.

I’ve been hugely impacted by reading this series of books. I think I’ve finally gone from ‘Nerd’ to ‘Non-Nerd’, I was somewhere in between for the longest time. Not that being a nerd is bad, it’s just not good — for me, right now.

Much like the book Black Swan explains, it was chance encounter that led me to pick up the book itself that led me down this path. I consider it a huge positive Black Swan. I’ve maximised my gains in the last year.

Thank you for reading