“Everybody is a genius. but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid” – – Albert Einstein

All the notes were taken directly from the source mentioned.

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Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty.

Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better.

The Black Swan problem—the impossibility of calculating the risks of consequential rare events and predicting their occurrence.

This is the tragedy of modernity: as with neurotically overprotective parents, those trying to help are often hurting us the most.

The largest fragilizer of society, and greatest generator of crises, absence of “skin in the game.” Some become antifragile at the expense of others by getting the upside (or gains) from volatility, variations, and disorder and exposing others to the downside risks of losses or harm.

Life is more, a lot more, labyrinthine than shown in our memory—our minds are in the business of turning history into something smooth and linear, which makes us underestimate randomness.

The rarer the event, the less tractable, and the less we know about how frequent its occurrence—yet

In short, the fragilista (medical, economic, social planning) is one who makes you engage in policies and actions, all artificial, in which the benefits are small and visible, and the side effects potentially severe and invisible.

I have only written, in every line I have composed in my professional life, about things I have done, and the risks I have recommended that others take or avoid were risks I have been taking or avoiding myself.

It does not mean that one’s personal experiences constitute a sufficient sample to derive a conclusion about an idea; it is just that one’s personal experience gives the stamp of authenticity and sincerity of opinion.

Students pay to write essays on topics for which they have to derive knowledge from a library as a self-enhancement exercise; a professional who is compensated to write and is taken seriously by others should use a more potent filter. Only distilled ideas, ones that sit in us for a long time, are acceptable—and those that come from reality.

If you see fraud and do not say fraud, you are a fraud.

Compromising is condoning. The only modern dictum I follow is one by George Santayana: A man is morally free when… he judges the world, and judges other men, with uncompromising sincerity. This is not just an aim but an obligation.

The record shows that, for society, the richer we become, the harder it gets to live within our means.

Mental effort moves us into higher gear, activating more vigorous and more analytical brain machinery.

Risk management professionals look in the past for information on the so-called worst-case scenario and use it to estimate future risks—this method is called “stress testing.” They take the worst historical recession, the worst war, the worst historical move in interest rates, or the worst point in unemployment as an exact estimate for the worst future outcome. But they never notice the following inconsistency: this so-called worst-case event, when it happened, exceeded the worst case at the time. I have called this mental defect the Lucretius problem, after the Latin poetic philosopher who wrote that the fool believes that the tallest mountain in the world will be equal to the tallest one he has observed.

My favorite intellectual opponent (and personal friend) Aaron Brown:

Some thoughts are so antifragile that you feed them by trying to get rid of them, turning them into obsessions.

Criticism, for a book, is a truthful, unfaked badge of attention, signaling that it is not boring; and boring is the only very bad thing for a book.

With complex systems, interdependencies are severe. You need to think in terms of ecology: if you remove a specific animal you disrupt a food chain: its predators will starve and its prey will grow unchecked, causing complications and series of cascading side effects.

Loss of bone density and degradation of the health of the bones also causes aging, diabetes, and, for males, loss of fertility and sexual function.

It is the systematic removal of uncertainty and randomness from things, trying to make matters highly predictable in their smallest details. All that for the sake of comfort, convenience, and efficiency.

I myself, while writing these lines, try to avoid the tyranny of a precise and explicit plan, drawing from an opaque source inside me that gives me surprises. Writing is only worth it when it provides us with the tingling effect of adventure, which is why I enjoy the composition of books

All life was random stimuli and nothing, good or bad, ever felt like work.3 Dangerous, yes, but boring, never. Finally, an environment with variability (hence randomness) does not expose us to chronic stress injury, unlike human-designed systems. If you walk on uneven, not man-made terrain, no two steps will ever be identical—compare that to the randomness-free gym machine offering the exact opposite: forcing you into endless repetitions of the very same movement.

In a system, the sacrifices of some units—fragile units, that is, or people—are often necessary for the well-being of other units or the whole. The fragility of every startup is necessary for the economy to be antifragile, and that’s what makes, among other things, entrepreneurship work: the fragility of individual entrepreneurs and their necessarily high failure rate.

Restaurants are fragile; they compete with each other, but the collective of local restaurants is antifragile for that very reason.

And someone who has made plenty of errors—though never the same error more than once—is more reliable than someone who has never made any.

Nietzsche’s famous expression “what does not kill me makes me stronger”

For there is no such thing as a failed soldier, dead or alive (unless he acted in a cowardly manner)—likewise, there is no such thing as a failed entrepreneur or failed scientific researcher,

My dream—the solution—is that we would have a National Entrepreneur Day, with the following message: Most of you will fail, disrespected, impoverished, but we are grateful for the risks you are taking and the sacrifices you are making for the sake of the economic growth of the planet and pulling others out of poverty. You are at the source of our antifragility. Our nation thanks you.

One has the illusion of stability, but is fragile; the other one the illusion of variability, but is robust and even antifragile.

We humans scorn what is not concrete. We are more easily swayed by a crying baby than by thousands of people dying elsewhere that do not make it to our living room through the TV set. The one case is a tragedy, the other a statistic. Our emotional energy is blind to probability.

A turkey is fed for a thousand days by a butcher; every day confirms to its staff of analysts that butchers love turkeys “with increased statistical confidence.” The butcher will keep feeding the turkey until a few days before Thanksgiving. Then comes that day when it is really not a very good idea to be a turkey. So with the butcher surprising it, the turkey will have a revision of belief—right when its confidence in the statement that the butcher loves turkeys is maximal and “it is very quiet” and soothingly predictable in the life of the turkey.

Mistaking absence of evidence (of harm) for evidence of absence, a mistake that we will see tends to prevail in intellectual circles and one that is grounded in the social sciences.

A donkey equally famished and thirsty caught at an equal distance between food and water would unavoidably die of hunger or thirst. But he can be saved thanks to a random nudge one way or the other. This metaphor is named Buridan’s Donkey, after the medieval philosopher Jean de Buridan,

What scientists call phenomenology is the observation of an empirical regularity without a visible theory for it.

When I wrote Fooled by Randomness, which argues—a relative of this message—that we have a tendency to underestimate the role of randomness in human affairs, summarized as “it is more random than you think,”

The best solution is to only look at very large changes in data or conditions, never at small ones.

The more data you get, the less you know what’s going on, and the more iatrogenics you will cause. People are still under the illusion that “science” means more data.

Our track record in figuring out significant rare events in politics and economics is not close to zero; it is zero.

There are ample empirical findings to the effect that providing someone with a random numerical forecast increases his risk taking, even if the person knows the projections are random.

Focus on exposure to failure—making

Stoics look down on luxury: about a fellow who led a lavish life, Seneca wrote: “He is in debt, whether he borrowed from another person or from fortune.”

When you become rich, the pain of losing your fortune exceeds the emotional gain of getting additional wealth, so you start living under continuous emotional threat. A rich person becomes trapped by belongings that take control of him, degrading his sleep at night, raising the serum concentration of his stress hormones, diminishing his sense of humor,

Go through mental exercises to write off possessions, so when losses occurred he would not feel the sting—a way to wrest one’s freedom from circumstances.

My idea of the modern Stoic sage is someone who transforms fear into prudence, pain into information, mistakes into initiation, and desire into undertaking.

Wait at least a day before beating up a servant who committed a violation.

Seneca went beyond. He said that wealth is the slave of the wise man and master of the fool.

If I have “nothing to lose” then it is all gain and I am antifragile.

The first step toward antifragility consists in first decreasing downside, rather than increasing upside;

If a gambler has a risk of terminal blowup (losing back everything), the “potential returns” of his strategy are totally inconsequential.

A plane that has a high risk of crashing, the notion of “speed” is irrelevant, since we know it may not get to its destination,

You put 90¬†percent of your funds in boring cash (assuming you are protected from inflation) or something called a “numeraire repository of value,” and 10¬†percent in very risky, maximally risky, securities, you cannot possibly lose more than 10¬†percent, while you are exposed to massive upside.

Someone with 100¬†percent in so-called “medium” risk securities has a risk of total ruin from the miscomputation of risks.

Letting children play a little bit, not much more than a little bit, with fire and learn from injuries, for the sake of their own future safety.

This is what Seneca elected to do: he initially had a very active, adventurous life, followed by a philosophical withdrawal to write and meditate, rather than a “middle” combination of both. Many of the “doers” turned “thinkers” like Montaigne have done a serial barbell: pure action, then pure reflection.

Georges Simenon, one of the most prolific writers of the twentieth century, only wrote sixty days a year, with three hundred days spent “doing nothing.” He published more than two hundred novels.

I can take all manner of professional and personal risks, particularly those in which there is no risk of terminal injury.

The teleological fallacy the illusion that you know exactly where you are going, and that you knew exactly where you were going in the past, and that others have succeeded in the past by knowing where they were going.

The error of thinking you know exactly where you are going and assuming that you know today what your preferences will be tomorrow has an associated one. It is the illusion of thinking that others, too, know where they are going, and that they would tell you what they want if you just asked them.

Authors, artists, and even philosophers are much better off having a very small number of fanatics behind them than a large number of people who appreciate their work.

All you need is the wisdom to not do unintelligent things to hurt yourself

We cannot change humans as easily as we can build greed-proof systems,

Mistaking the merely associative for the causal, that is, if rich countries are educated, immediately inferring that education makes a country rich,

Entrepreneurs are selected to be just doers, not thinkers, and doers do, they don’t talk, and it would be unfair, wrong, and downright insulting to measure them in the talk department.

The same with artisans: the quality lies in their product, not their conversation—in fact they can easily have false beliefs

In one of the rare noncharlatanic books in finance, descriptively called What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars,

We are fooled into overestimating the role of good-sounding ideas.

Cooking seems to be the perfect business that depends on optionality.

As Dan Ariely once observed, we cannot reverse engineer the taste of food from looking at the nutritional label. And we can observe ancestral heuristics at work: generations of collective tinkering resulting in the evolution of recipes.

Evidence of absence is not absence of evidence.


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