- This book felt LONG.
- The main idea in the book, that the bell curve is misleading and its reliance by all types of social scientists (economists, psychologists, financial experts) whom we rely upon, has left us more prone to improbable events that will definitely occur, is well stated. The first half of the book is a good read just to get the author's insights.
- At first, I found the author's completed disdain of journalists, historians, philosophy departments, pundits, and noble prize winners somewhat enjoyable. He writes from a position of superiority and lets the reader in on his viewpoint. But it got old. By the end of the book, the author felt like a know-it-all with a large chip on his shoulder.
- I'm not sure I can really recommend the extended version of the book that I read. The financial crisis of 2008 got the author a lot of attention. There is a section the original book (published in 2006) where he stated his opinion the banking system is weak and had the potential to blow-up. And he was right. But seriously, the additional section added in 2009, reads like an "I told you so". He comes across as arrogant and I found it annoying at best, condescending at worst. Sure, he's a smart guy. Sure, he's made a ton a money with his ideas. Does he have to gloat so much? Does he have to insult everybody all the time?
- In the end, I found that his complete confidence in his own viewpoint was an overcompensation for something. I just had no insight into what. I believe there is a baseline insecurity here that he is covering up.
- I'd only read this book if you wanted to experience what everybody else was talking about. Otherwise, I'd pass.
The Black Swan: Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable: With a new section: "On Robustness and Fragility" (Paperback)
- I have to admit, I was prepared to be disappointed in this book. The preface was written by one of author's colleagues and it seemed like the entire point was trying to make economics sound interesting. I do find economics interesting. So when you tell me that most people think its boring, but this book will make it interesting, I get concerned that the book is going to dumb it down, ironically making the entire subject uninteresting. So, my expectations were lowered.
- The introduction lowered my expectations further when the author made a pejorative statement about democrats. He quickly pivoted to another subject, but at this point, I didn't want to like the author. In fact, I almost put the book down. I was afraid that I had made a mistake and bought a piece of political propaganda. I didn't see myself sitting through 250 pages of being insulted.
- But, my fears were unfounded. It was actually a very entertaining and informative book about economics. The author covered lots of the fun issues like market success, market failure, the role of government, development economics, public goods, taxes, fiscal policy, international trade, and money supply. Really he hit the classical issues in a really common sense way. When he reached an issue that was normative, he would label it as such and then move on. Basically, he took many difficult and varied economic concepts and made them understandable without resorting to math equations and charts. That's fairly impressive.
- I picked this book as a counter to the popular behavioral economic books I've been reading. Instead, it was a good review of the concepts that I had during my college days.
- I've recently read Malcolm Gladwell other popular books: The Tipping Point and Blink. If I had to recommend one, it would be this one. This book is well researched, pointed, and convincing. Each anecdote is interesting, memorable, and useful in illustrating his overall points. This isn't to say the other book are bad, I enjoyed them too! I just think that author is even more convincing here. Moreover, I think he provides a really useful to way to think about success and how it happens.
- A great device that Malcolm uses is telling a success story using a classical explanation; basically that talent, intelligence, and hard work pay off. Then he tears each story apart. We end up understanding that talent, intelligence, and hard work are important; but that practice and arbitrary advantage have a critical role in any success story.
- This is a fun, useful book. And it's a quick read (For me, this is very strong point). If I had a list of 'highest' recommendations, Outliers would be on it.
- This book begins with the premise (that I agree with) that we are not entirely rational. Pretty easy thing to say. Then the writer show us how 'predictable' our irrationality can be. He's very convincing and cites much of his own research to demonstrate our predictability.
- The writing style is not technical and reads well. Often, the writer draws from personal experiences and analogies to connect the results of his experiments to his larger points.
- Some of conclusions are extremely interesting. A couple of points on cheating stood out to me. On average, people cheat when given the opportunity. But, they tend to only cheat a little bit. Unless you remind them of their honor (Like have them read the ten commandments) right before the opportunity to cheat presents itself. Then, they tend not to cheat. Strangely, people tend to cheat less if real (hold it in your hand - tangible) cash is involved but more if the cash is one step removed.
- The writer does get on a soapbox about the way thing should be and changes we (government/business) could make that would make society better. I wasn't sure I agreed with him on these points, but I was happy to read how he wanted the conclusions of his experiments to be used for the greater good.
- I'm wondering how his theories apply to groups of people. If a group has to make a decision, are they 'predictably irrational' as well? Most of the studies cited related to individual decisions. So I wonder if teams (corporations) wouldn't correct some of the faults of the individual.
- This is the 'how to make a better 401k plan for your employees' book. It's smart. They know that when people are faced with multifaceted decisions, they need help. But they demand that its better to give people as much choice as possible while leading them in the direction that they probably should be taking anyway.
- Tons of great studies and ideas for improving public policy. They are best when they are critical of existing programs (Like Medicare part D).
- At a certain point (late in the book), I think the authors got a little into their overall theory and started pressing it a bit too hard. I didn't really accept their ideas for public education and by the end of the book I felt like their ideas could be very difficult to effectively implement. That said, I'm pretty sure this book is why my firm offers a low-fee mutual fund that is time-stamped to automatically adjust the portfolio away from equities as I get closer to retirement.
Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters: From Dating, Shopping, and Praying to Going to War and Becoming a Billionaire-- Two Evolutionary Psychologists Explain Why We Do What We Do
- The writers bit off more than they could chew.
- The studies in are very interesting, as are the explanations that the authors come up with. It's not too long into the book that you 'get' their idea. Men and woman are different because of the possible number of children they can potentially have. Men can have 'thousands' and woman can have a few dozen. Every conclusion they come from stems from this simple fact. Unfortunately, it just seems too simple to really explain behavior.
- That said, it's neat when you read that every problem comes back to sex. And sometimes they are convincing. Other times they are ridiculous. Its most amusing when they say their theory has 'answered' a bunch of question they posed against it, concluding that alternative views are incorrect.
- The writing style leaves a little to be desired. They claim that most social scientists believe that all human behavior is due to culture (meaning that changing culture can 'fix' problems). Then they use that claim as a straw man to knock over in order to build up their perspective. Weak.
- I will call it a fun read. Great if you like to read critically. Because you'll find lots to be critical about while picking up the studies they site. Enjoyable.
- Really enjoyable book.
- When the book starts out, I found myself questioning how rigorous it would be. I was wrong to think that. The writing style appears unstructured, but is actually very tight and loaded with effective and interesting evidence. The writers do a great job of building their cases and proving out the kind of ways we allow our thinking/actions to be swayed.
- Lots of great case studies illustrate his argument that much of our thought processes and ability to make complex decision/judgments is from our sub-conscious mind.
- Found it much more interesting and well-supported than The Tipping Point.
- Loved the part on the war games for GWB's gulf war. The idea that one group could have so much information that they lost the ability to react effectively to the opposition carries a lot of weight. In my day job, I often wonder when we can stop the analysis and just take a read of our gut and make a decision.
- This a very quick read. The anecdotes are fun and memorable.
- Great history book on bank runs (and bank-like runs).
- Fun writing style. Uses easy to understand analogies to communicate difficult concepts.
- Has a great understanding of alternative viewpoints, their strengths and their weaknesses. Love the way he uses them to illustrate what he thinks are the true root causes of each crash.
- Read this book for a class on real estate development.
- Nice writing style, quick read.
- If you're thinking of doing a real estate deal, and have little to no experience, this book is great way to get some perspective. The author has been teaching real estate business school cases for decades. He's seen and heard a lot, plus has been in more than a few of his deals. He gets the downside. With any luck, he'll talk you out of it. At the very least, you'll get a better understand of some of the roadblocks you'll likely run into.