NOTE.  I enclosed “Management” in the title of this post in quotes. That was deliberate.  If I had used a more appropriate term, say “Epistemology,” or “Theory of Knowledge,” you probably would not be reading this now.  


After recently reading Nassim Nicolas Taleb’s fine new book “Antifragile.” I decided to re-read his earlier book written in 2007, “The Black Swan.”  This time I bought the Second Edition (2010), and spent a part of each day of my recent vacation reading it in depth.

I read it the first time much too quickly.   Let me say first I found an unexpected kindred spirit in Taleb, and I am in awe of his erudtiion and logical clarity. It is a powerful and important work, and deserves reflection on almost every page.   I now plan to read it a third time.

It hasn’t been since I read Dawkins “The Greatest Show on Earth” that I could almost feel my cortex creating new networks and associations, even though I was reading this each morning after evenings in The French Quarter in New Orleans.  Of course, the savory, dark N.O. coffee and Beignes may have helped considerably.

First let me tease you with a few quotes:

“The entire statistical business confused absence of proof with proof of absence.”  – p 281

“This idea that in order to make a decision you need to focus on the consequences (which you can know) rather than the probability (which you can’t know) is the central idea of uncertainty.” – p 211

” The traditional Gaussian way of looking at the world begins by focusing on on the ordinary, and then deals with exceptions or so-called outliers as ancillaries. But there is a second way, which takes the exceptional as a starting point and treats the ordinary as subordinate.” – p 236

“To paraphrase Danny Kahneman, for psychological comfort some people would rather use a map of the Pyrenees while lost in the Alps than use nothing at all.”   – p 367

“The problem of the unknown distribution resembles, in a way, Bertrand Russell’s central difficulty in logic with the “this sentence is true” issue–a sentence cannot contain its own truth predicate…a probability distribution needs to be subordinated to a metaprobability distribution giving, say, the probability of a probability distribution being the wrong one.” – p 353 (footnote)

In subsequent posts I will attempt to summarize the connections and lessons I  think apply to my day-to-day practice of Agile Knowledge Management and Business Intelligence.


Posted by Owen Dall

Founder and CTO

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