The antifragile loves randomness and uncertainty, which also means—crucially—a love of errors, a certain class of errors. Antifragility has a singular property of allowing us to deal with the unknown, to do things without understanding them—and do them well. Let me be more aggressive: we are largely better at doing than we are at thinking, thanks to antifragility. I’d rather be dumb and antifragile than extremely smart and fragile, any time. (Location 327)

guide to nonpredictive decision making under uncertainty in business, politics, medicine, and life in general—anywhere the unknown preponderates, any situation in which there is randomness, unpredictability, opacity, or incomplete understanding of things. (Location 336)

risk is not measurable (outside of casinos or the minds of people who call themselves “risk experts”). (Location 339)

Sensitivity to harm from volatility is tractable, more so than forecasting the event that would cause the harm. (Location 341)

anything that has more upside than downside from random events (or certain shocks) is antifragile; the reverse is fragile. (Location 345)

Technology is the result of antifragility, exploited by risk-takers in the form of tinkering and trial and error, with nerd-driven design confined to the backstage. (Location 406)

Fragility is quite measurable, risk not so at all, particularly risk associated with rare events. (Location 409)

while we cannot calculate risks and probabilities of shocks and rare events, no matter how sophisticated we get. (Location 411)

We can detect fragility, see it, even in many cases measure it, or at least measure comparative fragility with a small error while comparisons of risk have been (so far) unreliable. (Location 415)

but you can state with a lot more confidence that an object or a structure is more fragile than another should a certain event happen. (Location 417)

And—centrally—you can even make the prediction of which one will last longer. (Location 421)

To measure antifragility, there is a philosopher’s-stone-like recipe using a compact and simplified rule that allows us to identify it across domains, from health to the construction of societies. We have been unconsciously exploiting antifragility in practical life and, consciously, rejecting it—particularly in intellectual life. (Location 424)

This property of natural things not to advertise themselves in a user’s manual is, alas, not much of a hindrance: some fragilistas will get together to write the user’s manual themselves, thanks to their definition of “science.” (Location 436)

Fat Tony calls a “sucker game.” 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. (Location 440)

who mistakes the economy for a washing machine that continuously needs fixing (by him) and blows it up; (Location 444)

Yet simplicity has been difficult to implement in modern life because it is against the spirit of a certain brand of people who seek sophistication so they can justify their profession. (Location 457)

interdicts—how to live in a world we don’t understand, or, rather, how to not be afraid to work with things we patently don’t understand, and, more principally, in what manner we should work with these. (Location 460)

“you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.” (Location 464)

that the user knows that they are not perfect, (Location 466)

what does not like volatility, and that what does not like volatility (Location 470)

does not like randomness, uncertainty, disorder, errors, stressors, etc. (Location 471)

then you necessarily want them to be left alone in peace, quiet, order, and predictability. (Location 472)

And antifragility flows—sort of—from this explicit definition of fragility. (Location 475)

It likes volatility et al. It (Location 476)

also likes time. (Location 476)

everything nonlinear in response is either fragile or antifragile to a certain source of randomness. (Location 476)

My focus in that profession has been on identifying items that “love volatility” or “hate volatility”; so all I had to do was expand the ideas from the financial domain in which I had been focused to the broader notion of decision making under uncertainty across various fields, from political science to medicine to dinner plans.3 (Location 480)

and, second category, practitioners who, instead of studying future events, try to understand how things react to volatility (but practitioners are usually too busy practitioning to write books, articles, papers, speeches, equations, theories and get honored by Highly Constipated and Honorable Members of Academies). (Location 485)

something is harmed by volatility—hence fragile—than try to forecast harmful events, such as these oversized Black Swans. (Location 487)

It happens that uncertainty, disorder, and the unknown are completely equivalent in their effect: antifragile systems benefit (to some degree) from, and the fragile is penalized by, almost all of them—even if you have to find them in separate buildings of the university campuses and some philosophaster who has never taken real risks in his life, or, worse, never had a life, would inform you that “they are clearly not the same thing.” (Location 495)

the more time, the more events, the more disorder. (Location 499)

I’ve had only one master idea, each time taken to its next step, the last step—this book—being more like a big jump. (Location 502)

The corpus is called Incerto and is constituted (so far) of a trilogy plus philosophical and technical addenda. (Location 508)

So the relationship of this book to The Black Swan would be as follows: in spite of the chronology (and the fact that this book takes the Black Swan idea to its natural and prescriptive conclusion), (Location 511)

Because The Black Swan (and its predecessor, Fooled by Randomness) were written to convince us of a dire situation, and worked hard (Location 514)

To accord with the practitioner’s ethos, the rule in this book is as follows: I eat my own cooking. (Location 518)

Further, in writing, I feel corrupt and unethical if I have to look up a subject in a library as part of the writing itself. (Location 527)

idea. 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. (Location 530)

If you see fraud and do not say fraud, you are a fraud. (Location 539)

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. (Location 549)

After more than twenty years as a transactional trader and businessman in what I called the “strange profession,” (Location 558)

Commerce is fun, thrilling, lively, and natural; academia as currently professionalized is none of these. (Location 560)

But academics (particularly in social science) seem to distrust each other; they live in petty obsessions, envy, and icy-cold hatreds, with small snubs developing into grudges, fossilized over time in the loneliness of the transaction with a computer screen and the immutability of their environment. (Location 564)

Commerce, business, Levantine souks (though not large-scale markets and corporations) are activities and places that bring out the best in people, making most of them forgiving, honest, loving, trusting, and open-minded. (Location 568)

introduces Fat Tony and his intuitive detection of fragility and presents the foundational asymmetry of things grounded in the writings of Seneca, the Roman philosopher and doer. (Location 594)

Recall that the fragile wants tranquility, the antifragile grows from disorder, and the robust doesn’t care too much. (Location 647)

For example: the centralized nation-state is on the far left of the Triad, squarely in the fragile category, and a decentralized system (Location 650)

They are also rich in information. So a certain system of tinkering and trial and error would have the attributes of antifragility. (Location 654)

So a simple method would lead us to both a risk-based political philosophy and medical decision-making. (Location 662)

For instance, artisans are more antifragile than small businesses, but a rock star will be more antifragile than any artisan. (Location 665)

Debt always puts you on the left, fragilizes economic systems. (Location 666)

If the designation antifragile is rather vague and limited to specific sources of harm or volatility, and up to a certain range of exposure, it is no more and no less so than the designation fragile. (Location 672)

To see how alien the concept is to our minds, repeat the experiment and ask around at the next gathering, picnic, or pre-riot congregation what’s the antonym of fragile (and specify insistently that you mean the exact reverse, something that has opposite properties and payoff). (Location 730)

you cannot rise and rule without facing this continuous danger—someone out there will be actively working to topple you. (Location 758)

also brings fragility to Black Swans: as societies gain in complexity, with more and more “cutting edge” sophistication in them, (Location 767)

plants protect themselves from harm and fend off predators with poisonous substances that, ingested by us in the right quantities, may stimulate our organisms—or so goes the story. (Location 826)

Intellectuals tend to focus on negative responses from randomness (fragility) rather than the positive ones (antifragility). This is not just in psychology: it prevails across the board. (Location 885)

The excess energy released from overreaction to setbacks is what innovates! (Location 892)

moderns try today to create inventions from situations of comfort, safety, and predictability instead of accepting the notion that “necessity really is the mother of invention.” (Location 899)

and it has never been more heavily in debt, living off borrowed money. (Location 904)

that the automation of airplanes is underchallenging pilots, making flying too comfortable for them, dangerously comfortable. (Location 906)

If tired after an intercontinental flight, go to the gym for some exertion instead of resting. Also, it is a well-known trick that if you need something urgently done, give the task to the busiest (or second busiest) person in the office. (Location 914)

Better to be slightly inaudible, less clear. (Location 920)

One should have enough self-control to make the audience work hard to listen, which causes them to switch into intellectual overdrive. (Location 922)

is all about redundancy. Nature likes to overinsure itself. (Location 937)

Except that something unusual happens—usually. (Location 942)

the next MBA analyst or business school professor you run into that redundancy is not defensive; it is more like investment than insurance. (Location 954)

But they never notice the following inconsistency: this so-called worst-case event, (Location 960)

We consider the biggest object of any kind that we have seen in our lives or hear about as the largest item that can possibly exist. (Location 962)

overshoots in response to exposures and overprepares (up to the point of biological limit, of course). This is how bodies get stronger. (Location 971)

the term “fitness” itself may be quite imprecise and even ambiguous, which is why the notion of antifragility as something exceeding mere fitness can elucidate the confusion. (Location 994)

is to try to repress them using brute force rather than manipulate them, give in, or find more astute ruses, as Heracles did with Hydra. (Location 1010)

The wily Venetians knew how to spread information by disguising it as a secret. (Location 1031)

to estimate the quality of research, take the caliber of the highest detractor, or the caliber of the lowest detractor whom the author answers in print—whichever is lower. (Location 1050)

managed to stay permanently in power and hold government positions in spite of his numerous enemies (most notably his archenemy, my great-great-grandfather on the Taleb side of the family). (Location 1060)

out. It is easier to change jobs than control your reputation or public perception. (Location 1065)

damage. Or even put yourself in a situation to benefit from the antifragility of information. (Location 1068)

What would happen to me if I attack the fragilista? My firing and arrest record would plague me forever. (Location 1079)

With few exceptions, those who dress outrageously are robust or even antifragile in reputation; those clean-shaven types who dress in suits and ties are fragile to information about them. (Location 1085)

When you don’t have debt you don’t care about your reputation in economics circles—and somehow it is only when you don’t care about your reputation that you tend to have a good one. Just as in matters of seduction, people lend the most to those who need them the least. (Location 1091)

But if I stage a barrage of informational attacks on websites and in journals, I may be just helping him and hurting myself. (Location 1095)

in which he shows that composite material of carbon nanotubes arranged in a certain manner produces a self-strengthening response previously unseen in synthetic materials, (Location 1122)

The fact that the artificial needs to be antifragile for us to be able to use it as tissue is quite a telling difference between the biological and the synthetic. (Location 1126)

But these failures to self-repair come largely from maladjustment—either too few stressors or too little time for recovery between them—and maladjustment for this author is the mismatch between one’s design and the structure of the randomness of the environment (what I call more technically its “distributional or statistical properties”). (Location 1134)

senescence might not be avoidable, and should not be avoided (it would contradict the logic of life, as we will see in the next chapter); maladjustment is avoidable. Much of aging comes (Location 1138)

that tend to worsen over time for moderns do not change over the life of hunter-gatherers until the very end. And this artificial aging comes from stifling internal antifragility. (Location 1141)

But 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. (Location 1151)

In the complex world, the notion of “cause” itself is suspect; it is either nearly impossible to detect or not really defined—another reason to ignore newspapers, with their constant supply of causes for things. (Location 1155)

but through stress, via hormones or other messengers we haven’t discovered yet. (Location 1160)

your (short) employment with a piano moving company. They will become weaker after you spend the next Christmas vacation in a space station with zero gravity or (as few people realize) if you spend a lot of time riding a bicycle. (Location 1161)

For complex systems are, well, all about information. And there are many more conveyors of information around us than meet the eye. (Location 1166)

Not only that, but because of nonlinearities, one needs higher visibility than with regular systems—instead what we have is opacity. (Location 1169)

The tradition has been to think that aging causes bone weakness (bones lose density, become more brittle), as if there was a one-way relationship possibly brought about by hormones (females start experiencing osteoporosis after menopause). (Location 1177)

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. (Location 1180)

The lady in Figure 2, thanks to a lifetime of head-loading water jugs, has outstanding health and excellent posture. (Location 1186)

Humans tend to do better with acute than with chronic stressors, particularly when the former are followed by ample time for recovery, which allows the stressors to do their jobs as messengers. (Location 1187)

Social scientists use the term “equilibrium” to describe balance between opposing forces, say, supply and demand, so small disturbances or deviations in one direction, like those of a pendulum, would be countered with an adjustment in the opposite direction that would bring things back to stability. In short, this is thought to be the goal for an economy. (Location 1215)

if you are alive—something deep in your soul likes a certain measure of randomness and disorder. (Location 1269)

I could predict what my day would exactly look like, I would feel a little bit dead. (Location 1275)

I, a thrill-seeking human, have a b***t detector that seems to match my boredom detector, as if we were equipped with a naturalistic filter, dullness-aversion. (Location 1284)

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. (Location 1289)

comes necessarily at the expense of the fragility of others. 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. (Location 1308)

These subunits may be contending with each other. Take another business example. Restaurants are fragile; they compete with each other, but the collective of local restaurants is antifragile for that very reason. (Location 1313)

So some parts on the inside of a system may be required to be fragile in order to make the system antifragile as a result. (Location 1318)

Hormesis is a metaphor; antifragility is a phenomenon. (Location 1326)

It can be described as hormesis—getting stronger under harm—if we look from the outside, not from the inside. (Location 1334)

Unlike with hormesis, the unit does not get stronger in response to stress; it dies. (Location 1336)

is in love with stressors, randomness, uncertainty, and disorder—while individual organisms are relatively fragile, the gene pool takes advantage of shocks to enhance its fitness. (Location 1342)

To survive, it would need to be completely fit for all possible random events that can take place in the environment, all future random events. By some nasty property, a random event is, well, random. It does not advertise its arrival ahead of time, allowing the organism to prepare and make adjustments to sustain shocks. (Location 1351)

They can prepare for the next war, but not win it. (Location 1356)

If nature ran the economy, it would not continuously bail out its living members to make them live forever. (Location 1362)

like nature, it won’t let a single empire dominate the planet forever—even if every superpower from the Babylonians to the Egyptians to the Persians to the Romans to modern America has believed in the permanence of its domination and managed to produce historians to theorize to that effect. (Location 1365)

Black Swan Management 101: nature (and nature-like systems) likes diversity between organisms rather than diversity within an immortal organism, (Location 1369)

those species that survive are fittest and take over from the lost dinosaurs—evolution is not about a species, but at the service of the whole of nature. (Location 1381)

Likewise, if random mutations occur at too high a rate, then the fitness gain might not stick, might perhaps even reverse thanks to a new mutation: (Location 1384)

The same can be said of the debacle of Fukushima: one can safely say that it made us aware of the problem with nuclear reactors (and small probabilities) and prevented larger catastrophes. (Location 1429)

The economy has an equivalent layering: individuals, artisans, small firms, departments within corporations, corporations, industries, the regional economy, and, finally, on top, the general economy—one can even have thinner slicing with a larger number of layers. (Location 1469)

they are therefore necessarily concerned in seeking antifragility or at least some level of robustness for themselves. (Location 1479)

So there is a problem in which the property of the sum (the aggregate) varies from that of each one of the parts—in fact, it wants harm to the parts. (Location 1480)

rather to take a lot, a lot of imprudent risks themselves and be blinded by the odds. Their respective industries improve from failure to failure. Natural and naturelike systems want some overconfidence on the part of individual economic agents, (Location 1485)

We saw how nature wants herself, the aggregate, to survive—not every species—just as, in turn, every single species wants its individuals to be fragile (particularly after reproduction), (Location 1521)

with the very best of intentions by playing conductor. We are fragilizing social and economic systems by denying them stressors and randomness, putting them in the Procrustean bed of cushy and comfortable—but ultimately harmful—modernity. (Location 1599)

but they are rather robust to a minor professional Black Swan, (Location 1631)

Nature loves small errors (without which genetic variations are impossible), humans don’t—hence when you rely on human judgment you are at the mercy of a mental bias that disfavors antifragility. (Location 1651)

So, alas, we humans are afraid of the second type of variability and naively fragilize systems—or prevent their antifragility—by protecting them. (Location 1653)

the most stable country in the world does not have a government. (Location 1682)

What they do not have is a large central government, or what the common discourse describes as “the” government—what governs them is entirely bottom-up, municipal of sorts, regional entities called cantons, near-sovereign mini-states united in a confederation. (Location 1689)

If you multiply by ten the number of persons in a given entity, you do not preserve the properties: there is a transformation. Here (Location 1707)

Switzerland is similar to the income of the second brother, stable because of the variations and noise at the local level. (Location 1711)

Eye contact with one’s peers changes one’s behavior. But for a desk-grounded office leech, a number is a just a number. (Location 1717)

“Stalin could not have existed in a municipality.” (Location 1722)

is more antifragile than the large—in fact the large is doomed to breaking, a mathematical property we will explain later, that, sadly, seems universal as it applies to large corporations, very large mammals, and large administrations.2 (Location 1723)

Our emotional energy is blind to probability. (Location 1728)

The problem is that by creating bureaucracies, we put civil servants in a position to make decisions based on abstract and theoretical matters, with the illusion that they will be making them in a rational, accountable way. (Location 1731)

small corporations are less likely to have lobbyists. (Location 1737)

call Mediocristan—plenty of variations that might be scary, but tend to cancel out in the aggregate (over time, or over the collection of municipalities that constitute the larger confederation or entity)—rather (Location 1748)

you have mostly stability and occasionally large chaos—errors there have large consequences. One fluctuates, the other jumps. (Location 1750)

In Extremistan, one is prone to be fooled by the properties of the past and get the story exactly backwards. (Location 1782)

“Not being a turkey” starts with figuring out the difference between true and manufactured stability. (Location 1797)

First, after the Great War, one part of the northern Levant was integrated into the newly created nation of Syria, separated from its other section, now part of Lebanon. (Location 1814)

but functioned as somewhat autonomous regions—Ottomans, like the Romans before them, let local elites run the place so long as sufficient tax was paid, while they focused on their business of war. (Location 1816)

As soon as the Baathists centralized the place and enforced their statist laws, Aleppo and Emesa went into instant decline. (Location 1821)

“We people of Aleppo prefer war to prison.” I thought that he meant that they were going to put him in jail, but then I realized that by “prison” he meant the loss of political and economic freedoms. (Location 1834)

Nation-states rely on centralized bureaucracy, whereas empires, such as the Roman empire and Ottoman dynasties, have relied on local elites, (Location 1848)

it allowed locals to focus on commerce rather than war. (Location 1852)

mediocrity cannot handle more than one enemy, so war here turns into an alliance there. (Location 1868)

Randomness is distributed rather than concentrated. (Location 1875)

that the world is getting safer and safer, and of course they naively attribute it to the holy “state” (though bottom-up Switzerland has about the lowest rate of violence of any place on the planet). (Location 1876)

When we look at risks in Extremistan, we don’t look at evidence (evidence comes too late), we look at potential damage: never has the world been more prone to more damage; never.6 It is hard to explain to naive data-driven people that risk is in the future, not in the past. (Location 1880)

The second type is stable in the long run because of some dose of volatility. (Location 1918)

Light control works; close control leads to overreaction, sometimes causing the machinery to break into pieces. (Location 1922)

Someone with a slightly more volatile—hence unpredictable—schedule, with, say, a half-hour variation, won’t do (Location 1933)

Systematically preventing forest fires from taking place “to be safe” makes the big one much worse. For similar reasons, stability is not good for the economy: firms become very weak during long periods of steady prosperity devoid of setbacks, and hidden vulnerabilities accumulate silently under the surface—so delaying crises is not a very good idea. (Location 1935)

to improve its functioning has been applied across fields. By a mechanism called stochastic resonance, adding random noise to the background makes you hear the sounds (say, music) with more accuracy. (Location 1955)

The magic is that such change of regime, from chaos to order, did not take place by removing chaos, but by adding random, completely random but low-intensity shocks. I came out of the beautiful experiment with so much enthusiasm that I wanted to inform strangers on the street, “I love randomness!” (Location 1973)

Unfortunately, you cannot randomize a political party out of existence. What is plaguing us in the United States is not the two-party system, but being stuck with the same two parties. Parties don’t have organic built-in expiration dates. (Location 1993)

For instance, I actually practice such randomizing heuristic in restaurants. (Location 2001)

my decision that I should have ordered something else, I blindly and systematically duplicate the selection by the most overweight male at the table; and when no such person is present, I randomly pick from the menu without reading the name of the item, under the peace of mind that Baal made the choice for me. (Location 2002)

what happens later—unlike gardeners, who understand rather well that pruning trees strengthens them. (Location 2013)

with artificially suppressed volatility is not just that the system tends to become extremely fragile; it is that, at the same time, it exhibits no visible risks. (Location 2019)

In fact, these systems tend to be too calm and exhibit minimal variability as silent risks accumulate beneath the surface. (Location 2020)

it is a standard case of top-down stability enforced by a superpower at the expense of every single possible moral and ethical metric—and, of course, at the expense of stability itself. (Location 2030)

The family members amassed a fortune now largely in Western safes. (Location 2036)

Few people are aware of the fact that the bitterness of Iranians toward the United States comes from the fact that the United States—a democracy—installed a monarch, the repressive Shah of Iran, who pillaged the place but gave the United States the “stability” of access to the Persian Gulf. (Location 2042)

been unduly focused on the repression of any and all political fluctuations in the name of preventing “Islamic fundamentalism”—a (Location 2046)

the more they bring instability (except for emergency-room-style cases). (Location 2050)

modernity is humans’ large-scale domination of the environment, the systematic smoothing of the world’s jaggedness, and the stifling of volatility and stressors. (Location 2052)

We are moving into a phase of modernity marked by the lobbyist, the very, very limited liability corporation, the MBA, sucker problems, secularization (or rather reinvention of new sacred values like flags to replace altars), the tax man, fear of the boss, spending the weekend in interesting places and the workweek in a putatively less interesting one, the separation of “work” and “leisure” (though the two would look identical to someone from a wiser era), (Location 2062)

can only do things that seem to fit some narrative, unlike businesses that can just follow profits, with or without a good-sounding story. (Location 2070)

The story of the nation-state is that of the concentration and magnification of human errors. Modernity starts with the state monopoly on violence, and ends with the state’s monopoly on fiscal irresponsibility. (Location 2079)

the unconditional belief in the idea of scientific prediction regardless of the domain, the aim to squeeze the future into numerical reductions whether reliable or unreliable. (Location 2084)

medicine had a largely negative balance sheet—going (Location 2112)

although medical error still currently kills between three times (as accepted by doctors) and ten times as many people as car accidents in the United States. (Location 2126)

We have to worry about the incitation to overtreatment on the part of pharmaceutical companies, lobbies, and special interest groups and the production of harm that is not immediately salient and not accounted for as an “error.” (Location 2129)

An agency problem, for instance, is present with the stockbroker and medical doctor, whose ultimate interest is their own checking account, not your financial and medical health, respectively, and who give you advice that is geared to benefit themselves. (Location 2136)

While we now have a word for causing harm while trying to help, (Location 2154)

For instance, hackers make systems stronger. (Location 2156)

The problem was that they tried so hard to have a bad play—called Springtime for Hitler—and they were so bad at it that it turned out to be a huge hit. (Location 2160)

a fellow was so upset with his year-end bonus that he started making huge bets with his employer’s portfolio—and ended up making them considerable sums of money, more than if he had tried to do so on purpose. (Location 2162)

the unintended-but-not-so-unintended consequences: the system facilitates the conversion of selfish aims (or, to be correct, not necessarily benevolent ones) at the individual level into beneficial results for the collective. (Location 2164)

People with an engineering-oriented mind will tend to look at everything around as an engineering problem. (Location 2170)

nobody took me or the idea seriously, and the few who did tried to block me, asking for “a theory” (Location 2182)

as well as the very idea of using a theory without considering the impact of the possible errors from theory. (Location 2183)

Theories are superfragile; they come and go, then come and go, then come and go again; (Location 2187)

phenomenologies stay, and I can’t believe people don’t realize that phenomenology is “robust” and usable, and theories, while overhyped, are unreliable for decision making—outside physics. (Location 2187)

Errors in physics get smaller from theory to theory—so saying “Newton was wrong” is attention grabbing, good for lurid science journalism, but ultimately mendacious; (Location 2190)

On the other hand, social science seems to diverge from theory to theory. (Location 2195)

Unlike with medicine, where iatrogenics is distributed across the population (hence with Mediocristan effects), because of concentration of power, social science and policy iatrogenics can blow us up (hence, Extremistan). (Location 2201)

The most depressing part of the Greenspan story is that the fellow was a libertarian and seemingly convinced of the idea of leaving systems to their own devices; people can fool themselves endlessly. (Location 2206)

These attempts to eliminate the business cycle lead to the mother of all fragilities. Just as a little bit of fire here and there gets rid of the flammable material in a forest, (Location 2213)

warning against naive intervention and lack of awareness and acceptance of harm done by it. (Location 2231)

The depressing part is that those people who were committing such mistakes were educated journalists entrusted to represent the world to us lay persons. (Location 2237)

Indeed, as in medicine, we tend to over-intervene in areas with minimal benefits (and large risks) (Location 2241)

What should we control? As a rule, intervening to limit size (of companies, airports, or sources of pollution), concentration, and speed are beneficial in reducing Black Swan risks. (Location 2243)

Most of the time, the Democratic side of the U.S. spectrum favors hyper-intervention, unconditional regulation, and large government, while the Republican side loves large corporations, unconditional deregulation, and militarism—both are the same to me here. (Location 2261)

To me it is mostly about having a systematic protocol to determine when to intervene and when to leave systems alone. (Location 2266)

who had an obvious military superiority, crazy by avoiding and delaying engagement. And it is quite fitting to consider Hannibal’s militarism as a form of interventionism (à la George W. Bush, except that Hannibal was actually in battle himself, not in the comfort of an office) and (Location 2283)

Procrastination turned out to be a way to let events take their course and give the activists the chance to change their minds before committing to irreversible policies. (Location 2289)

Few understand that procrastination is our natural defense, letting things take care of themselves and exercise their antifragility; it results from some ecological or naturalistic wisdom, and is not always bad—at an existential level, (Location 2294)

ability to be calm under fire that is considered necessary to become a leader, military commander, or mafia godfather. (Location 2334)

Usually unruffled and immune to small information, he can impress you with his self-control in difficult circumstances. (Location 2335)

For the purpose of our discussion, the second fellow only reacts to real information, the first largely to noise. (Location 2340)

our track record in figuring out significant rare events in politics and economics is not close to zero; it is zero. I improvised, on the spot, my solution. (Location 2510)

Fragility-Robustness-Antifragility as a replacement for predictive methods. (Location 2514)

than prediction and understanding the dynamics of events, the entire mission reduces to the central principle of what to do to minimize harm (and maximize gain) (Location 2534)

to have things that don’t fall apart, or even benefit, when we make a mistake. (Location 2535)

Not seeing a tsunami or an economic event coming is excusable; building something fragile to them is not. (Location 2543)

should instead focus on exposure to failure—making the prediction or nonprediction of failure quite irrelevant. This approach leads to building small enough reactors and embedding them deep enough in the ground with enough layers of protection around them that a failure would not affect us much should it happen—costly, but still better than nothing. (Location 2550)

There are two different domains, one in which we can predict (to some extent), (Location 2559)

the other—the Black Swan domain—in which we should only let turkeys and turkified people operate. (Location 2560)

And the demarcation is as visible (to non-turkeys) as the one between the cat and the washing machine. (Location 2560)

In other words, focus on getting out of the f*** Fourth Quadrant—the Fourth Quadrant is the scientific name I gave to the Black Swan domain, the one in which we have a high exposure to rare, “tail” events and these events are incomputable.3 Now, what is worse, because of modernity, (Location 2571)

These worsen predictability since almost everything in socioeconomic life now is dominated by Black Swans. Our sophistication continuously puts us ahead of ourselves, creating things we are less and less capable of understanding. (Location 2575)

Yet, again, the answer is simple: less is more; move the discourse to (anti)fragility. (Location 2580)

they were terrified of boredom, particularly the prospect of waking up early with an empty day ahead. So (Location 2615)

As for Fat Tony, he had different allergies: the empty suit, which we speculate is someone who has a command of all the superfluous and administrative details of things but misses the essential (and isn’t even aware of it), so his conversation becomes mere chitchat around the point, never getting to the central idea. (Location 2640)

The group is organized along libertarian lines, and one of their rules is that university titles and prestige give no seniority in disputes. (Location 2647)

Curiosity is antifragile, like an addiction, and is magnified by attempts to satisfy it—books have a secret mission and ability to multiply, as everyone who has wall-to-wall bookshelves knows well. (Location 2654)

He felt that the concept of probability as used was too narrow and incomplete to express the true nature of decisions in the ecology of the real world. (Location 2663)

they were predicting a sucker’s fragility crisis. What (Location 2672)

To Nero, a system built on illusions of understanding probability is bound to collapse. (Location 2679)

You can’t predict in general, but you can predict that those who rely on predictions are taking more risks, will have some trouble, perhaps even go bust. (Location 2736)

Someone who predicts will be fragile to prediction errors. An overconfident pilot will eventually crash the plane. And numerical prediction leads people to take more risks. (Location 2737)

He identifies fragilities, makes a bet on the collapse of the fragile unit, lectures Nero and trades insults with him about sociocultural matters, reacts to Nero’s jabs at New Jersey life, collects big after the collapse. (Location 2740)

His work has seduced people like me and most of the friends to whom I introduced his books, because he speaks to us; he walked the walk, and he focused on the practical aspect of Stoicism, down to how to take a trip, how to handle oneself while committing suicide (which he was ordered to do), or, mostly, how to handle adversity and poverty and, even more critically, wealth. (Location 2756)

The traditional understanding of Stoicism in the literature is of some indifference to fate—among other ideas of harmony with the cosmos that I will skip here. (Location 2783)

Stoicism makes you desire the challenge of a calamity. (Location 2787)

“He is in debt, whether he borrowed from another person or from fortune.” (Location 2788)

What we learn from reading Seneca directly, rather than through the commentators, is a different story. Seneca’s version of that Stoicism is antifragility from fate. No downside from Lady Fortuna, plenty of upside. (Location 2792)

Let us first learn from the great master how he advocated the mitigation of downside, the standard message of the Stoics—robustness, (Location 2801)

you now have a lot more to lose than to gain. You are hence fragile. (Location 2805)

Seneca fathomed that possessions make us worry about downside, thus acting as a punishment as we depend on them. (Location 2809)

All downside, no upside. Even more: dependence on circumstances—rather, the emotions that arise from circumstances—induces a form of slavery. (Location 2810)

Take the situation in which you have a lot to lose and little to gain. If an additional quantity of wealth, say, a thousand Phoenician shekels, would not benefit you, but you would feel great harm from the loss of an equivalent amount, you have an asymmetry. And it is not a good asymmetry: you are fragile. (Location 2816)

such fragility was to 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. (Location 2818)

I have always hated employment and the associated dependence on someone else’s arbitrary opinion, particularly when much of what’s done inside large corporations violates my sense of ethics. (Location 2824)

would go through the mental exercise of assuming every morning that the worst possible thing had actually happened—the rest of the day would be a bonus. (Location 2828)

An intelligent life is all about such emotional positioning to eliminate the sting of harm, which as we saw is done by mentally writing off belongings so one does not feel any pain from losses. The volatility of the world no longer affects you negatively. (Location 2833)

Stoicism is about the domestication, not necessarily the elimination, of emotions. It is not about turning humans into vegetables. (Location 2835)

Seneca also provides us a catalogue of social deeds: invest in good actions. Things can be taken away from us—not good deeds and acts of virtue. (Location 2842)

He said that wealth is the slave of the wise man and master of the fool. (Location 2845)

“The bookkeeping of benefits is simple: it is all expenditure; if any one returns it, that is clear gain (my emphasis); if he does not return it, it is not lost, I gave it for the sake (Location 2852)

kept the good and ditched the bad; cut the downside and kept the upside. (Location 2854)

other Stoics to think like those who study Stoicism). There is an upside-downside asymmetry. (Location 2856)

To see why asymmetric payoffs like volatility, just consider that if you have less to lose than to gain, more upside than downside, then you like volatility (it will, on balance, bring benefits), and you are also antifragile. (Location 2865)

The first step toward antifragility consists in first decreasing downside, rather than increasing upside; that is, by lowering exposure to negative Black Swans and letting natural antifragility work by itself. (Location 2888)

This fragility that comes from path dependence is often ignored by businessmen who, trained in static thinking, tend to believe that generating profits is their principal mission, with survival and risk control something to perhaps consider—they miss the strong logical precedence of survival over success. (Location 2896)

are empty and meaningless when presented without accounting for fragility. (Location 2900)

Under path dependence, one can no longer separate growth in the economy from risks of recession, financial returns from risks of terminal losses, and “efficiency” from danger of accident. The (Location 2903)

If a gambler has a risk of terminal blowup (losing back everything), the “potential returns” of his strategy are totally inconsequential. (Location 2905)

One can also call it, more technically, a bimodal strategy, as it has two distinct modes rather than a single, central (Location 2920)

That is extreme risk aversion on one side and extreme risk loving on the other, rather than just the “medium” or the beastly “moderate” risk attitude that in fact is a sucker game (because medium risks can be subjected to huge measurement errors). (Location 2923)

For antifragility is the combination aggressiveness plus paranoia—clip your downside, protect yourself from extreme harm, and let the upside, the positive Black Swans, take care of itself. (Location 2931)

We saw Seneca’s asymmetry: more upside than downside can come simply from the reduction of extreme downside (emotional harm) rather than improving things in the middle. (Location 2933)

We have ample evidence that people are averse to small losses, but not so much toward very large Black Swan risks (which they underestimate), since they tend to insure for small probable losses, but not large infrequent ones. Exactly backwards. (Location 2960)

Many of the “doers” turned “thinkers” like Montaigne have done a serial barbell: pure action, then pure reflection. (Location 2986)

intensely for very short hours, then do nothing for the rest of the time (assuming doing nothing is really doing nothing), (Location 2988)

The rules are: no smoking, no sugar (particularly fructose), no motorcycles, no bicycles in town or more generally outside a traffic-free area such as the Sahara desert, no mixing with the Eastern European mafias, and no getting on a plane not flown by a professional pilot (unless there is a co-pilot). (Location 2996)

Anything that removes the risk of ruin will get us to such a barbell. The legendary investor Ray Dalio has a rule for someone making speculative bets: “Make sure that the probability of the unacceptable (i.e., the risk of ruin) is nil.” (Location 3016)

Summa Theologiae by Saint Thomas Aquinas is the kind of book that no longer exists, the book-as-monument, a summa being the comprehensive treatment of a given discipline, (Location 3041)

agent does not move except out of intention for an end,” (Location 3047)

Everyone, including the Stoics, but excluding the skeptics, fell for such teleological arguments intellectually, but certainly not in action. (Location 3049)

“An agent does not move except out of intention for an end,” is where the most pervasive human error lies, compounded by two or more centuries (Location 3053)

of the illusion of unconditional scientific understanding. This error is also the most fragilizing one. (Location 3054)

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. (Location 3056)

it assumes completeness of vision and gets one locked into a hard-to-revise program, while the flâneur continuously—and, what is crucial, rationally—modifies his targets as he acquires information. (Location 3060)

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. (Location 3064)

The strength of the computer entrepreneur Steve Jobs was precisely in distrusting market research and focus groups—those based on asking people what they want—and following his own imagination. (Location 3068)

Optionality will take us many places, but at the core, an option is what makes you antifragile and allows you to benefit from the positive side of uncertainty, without a corresponding serious harm from the negative side. (Location 3071)

Yet these people fail to realize that the new comes from here and gets imitated elsewhere. And it is not thanks to universities, which obviously claim a lot more credit than their accomplishments warrant. (Location 3075)

America’s asset is, simply, risk taking and the use of optionality, this remarkable ability to engage in rational forms of trial and error, with no comparative shame in failing, starting again, and repeating failure. (Location 3077)

but to show that intelligence makes you discount antifragility and ignore the power of optionality. (Location 3092)

He got tired of his buddies with more transactional lives hinting at him that “those who can, do, and others philosophize.” (Location 3095)

This kind of sum I’ve called in my vernacular “f*** you money”—a sum large enough to get most, if not all, of the advantages of wealth (Location 3100)

Beyond a certain level of opulence and independence, gents tend to be less and less personable and their conversation less and less interesting. (Location 3104)

Thales put himself in a position to take advantage of his lack of knowledge—and the secret property of the asymmetry. The (Location 3109)

The option is an agent of antifragility. (Location 3116)

antifragility equals more to gain than to lose equals more upside than downside equals asymmetry (favorable) equals likes volatility. (Location 3119)

You are only harmed if you repeatedly pay too much for the option. (Location 3121)

but most interesting options are free, or at the worst, cheap. (Location 3124)

you need to know whether you do not like the pursuit of money and wealth because you genuinely do not like it, or because you are rationalizing your inability to be successful at it with the argument that wealth is not a good thing because it is bad for one’s digestive system or disturbing for one’s sleep or other such arguments. (Location 3137)

consider the asymmetry. You benefit from lower rents, but are not hurt by higher ones. How? Because here again, you have an option, not an obligation. In a way, uncertainty increases the worth of such privilege. Should you face a high degree of uncertainty about future outcomes, with possible huge decreases in real estate value, or huge possible increases in them, your option would become more valuable. The more uncertainty, the more valuable the option. (Location 3164)

it does not care about the average outcome, (Location 3178)

are much better off having a very small number of fanatics behind them than a large number of people who appreciate their work. (Location 3179)

your work and ideas, whether in politics, the arts, or other domains, are antifragile (Location 3185)

you are better off having a high percentage of people disliking you and your message (even intensely), (Location 3187)

wines, gourmet farm-raised probiotic dog food, etc. Such businesses only care about the pool of funds available to the very rich. If the population in the Western world had an average income of fifty thousand dollars, with no inequality at all, luxury goods sellers would not survive. (Location 3190)

For Summers, this explained why men were overrepresented in the scientific and intellectual community (and also why men were overrepresented in jails or failures). (Location 3200)

growth in society may not come from raising the average the Asian way, but from increasing the number of people in the “tails,” that small, very small number of risk takers crazy enough to have ideas of their own, those endowed with that very rare ability called imagination, that rarer quality called courage, and who make things happen. (Location 3203)

Aristotle made the mistake of thinking that knowledge about the event (future crop, or price of the rent for oil presses, what we showed on the horizontal axis) and making profits out of it (vertical) are the same thing. (Location 3210)

All you need is the wisdom to not do unintelligent things to hurt yourself (some acts of omission) and recognize favorable outcomes when they occur. (The key is that your assessment doesn’t need to be made beforehand, only after the outcome.) (Location 3215)

The rationality part lies in keeping what is good and ditching the bad, knowing to take the profits. (Location 3245)

funded by the oil revenues of governments, under the postulation that oil reserves can be turned into knowledge by hiring professors from prestigious universities and putting their kids through school (or, as is the case, waiting for their kids to feel the desire to go to school, as many students in Abu Dhabi are from Bulgaria, Serbia, or Macedonia getting a free education). (Location 3579)

It would seem a reasonable investment if one accepts the notion that university knowledge generates economic wealth. (Location 3583)

diverting them to administrators from Western universities. Their wealth came from oil, not from some vocational know-how, so I am certain that their spending on education is completely sterile and a great transfer of resources (rather than milking antifragility by forcing their citizens to make money naturally, through circumstances). (Location 3587)

sophistication is born of need, and success of difficulties—in fact many such variations, sourced in medieval days (such as necessitas magistra in Erasmus), found their way into our daily vernaculars, as in “necessity is the mother of invention.” (Location 3592)

“You, too, had you stayed here, would have become a beach bum. People from Amioun only do well when shaken.” That’s antifragility. (Location 3600)

Serious empirical investigation (largely thanks to one Lant Pritchet, then a World Bank economist) shows no evidence that raising the general level of education raises income at the level of a country. (Location 3603)

But we know the opposite is true, that wealth leads to the rise of education—not an optical illusion. (Location 3604)

Further, over the same period, sub-Saharan Africa saw markedly increasing literacy rates, accompanied with a decrease in their standard of living. (Location 3613)

am not saying that for an individual, education is useless: it builds helpful credentials for one’s own career—but such effect washes out at the country level. (Location 3620)

The family retains wealth because the diplomas allow members to remain in the middle class long after the ancestral wealth is depleted. But these effects don’t count for countries. Further, Alison Wolf debunks (Location 3622)

“The simple one-way relationship which so entrances our politicians and commentators—education spending in, economic growth out—simply doesn’t exist. Moreover, the larger and more complex the education sector, the less obvious any links to productivity become.” (Location 3625)

interrupted him to state the point that America’s values were “convex” risk taking and that I am glad that we are not like these helicopter-mom cultures—the kind of thing I am writing here. (Location 3638)

all I am saying is that their role is overly hyped-up and that their members seem to exploit some of our gullibility in establishing wrong causal links, mostly on superficial impressions. (Location 3643)

Entrepreneurs, particularly those in technical jobs, are not necessarily the best people to have dinner with. (Location 3650)

the mistake of thinking that skills in, say, skiing translate unfailingly into skills in managing a pottery workshop or a bank department, or that a good chess player would be a good strategist in real life). (Location 3654)

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. (Location 3658)

The fact is that predicting the order flow in lumber and the usual narrative had little to do with the details one would assume from the outside are important. People who do things in the field are not subjected to a set exam; they are selected in the most non-narrative manner—nice arguments don’t make much difference. Evolution does not rely on narratives, humans do. Evolution does not need a word for the color blue. (Location 3672)

You would think that the people who specialized in foreign exchange understood economics, geopolitics, mathematics, the future price of currencies, differentials between prices in countries. Or that they read assiduously the economics reports published in glossy papers by various institutes. You might also imagine cosmopolitan fellows who wear ascots at the opera on Saturday night, make wine sommeliers nervous, and take tango lessons on Wednesday afternoons. Or spoke intelligible English. (Location 3681)

started freaking out watching all these years of education evaporating in front of my eyes. That very same day I stopped reading economic reports. I felt nauseous for a while during this enterprise of “deintellectualization”—in fact I may not have recovered yet. (Location 3692)

All he knew is that suckers exist. (Location 3711)

But that causal link was precisely what Tony could not take for granted. (Location 3712)

“There are so few occasions in one’s life, you can’t miss them,” (Location 3716)

“Good speculative bets come to you, you don’t get them by just staying focused on the news.” (Location 3718)

Indeed many people lost their shirt from the drop of oil—while correctly predicting war. (Location 3720)

Except for the very simple fact that it had nothing to do with oil—not the same “ting.” (Location 3723)

Unlike researchers, they were selected for survival, not complications. (Location 3727)

When you have optionality, or some antifragility, and can identify betting opportunities with big upside and small downside, what you do is only remotely connected to what Aristotle thinks you (Location 3732)

Now, the more asymmetries there are between the something and the function of something, then the more difference there is between the two. They may end up having nothing to do with each other. (Location 3735)

Someone who escaped the conflation problem is Jim Simons, the great mathematician who made a fortune building a huge machine to transact across markets. (Location 3738)

Rubinstein refuses to claim that his knowledge of theoretical matters can be translated—by him—into anything directly practical. (Location 3744)

Sometimes, even when an economic theory makes sense, its application cannot be imposed from a model, in a top-down manner, so one needs the organic self-driven trial and error to get us (Location 3752)

blows up countries when imposed by policy makers, as it makes the economies error-prone; but it works well when reached progressively by evolutionary means, with the right buffers and layers of redundancies. Another case (Location 3754)

“right thing” here is typically an antifragile payoff. And my argument is that you don’t go to school to learn optionality, but the reverse: to become blind to (Location 3758)

You make forays into the future by opportunism and optionality. So far in Book IV we have seen the power of optionality as an alternative way of doing things, opportunistically, with some large edge coming from asymmetry with large benefits and benign harm. (Location 3766)

one is domesticated by uncertainty, and ironically set back. (Location 3769)

As Yogi Berra said, “In theory there is no difference between theory and practice; in practice there is.” (Location 3771)

We separated knowledge into two categories, the formal and the Fat Tonyish, heavily grounded in the antifragility of trial and error and risk taking with less downside, barbell-style—a de-intellectualized form of risk taking (or, rather, intellectual in its own way). In an opaque world, that is the only way to go. (Location 3773)

they are just not overly dependent on the narrative being true—the narrative is not epistemological but instrumental. (Location 3785)

but they may get you to do something convex and antifragile you otherwise would not do, like mitigate risks. (Location 3786)

Religions often use the equivalent method to help adults get out of trouble, or avoid debt. But intellectuals tend to believe their own b***t and take their ideas too literally, and that is vastly dangerous. (Location 3788)

between ideas, but between humans and systems based on such ideas. An idea does not survive because it is better than the competition, but rather because the person who holds it has survived! (Location 3792)

Expert problems (in which the expert knows a lot but less than he thinks he does) often bring fragilities, and acceptance of ignorance the reverse. (Location 3796)

When you are fragile you need to know a lot more than when you are antifragile. Conversely, when you think you know more than you do, you are fragile (to error). (Location 3798)

Overconfidence leads to reliance on forecasts, which causes borrowing, then to the fragility of leverage. (Location 3816)

To understand the history of technology, you need accounts by nonhistorians, or historians with the right frame of mind who developed their ideas by watching the formation of technologies, (Location 3826)

Nobody worries that a child ignorant of the various theorems of aerodynamics and incapable of solving an equation of motion would be unable to ride a bicycle. (Location 3847)

Is it thanks to the academically derived formula that we are able to operate, or did the formula come through some antifragile evolutionary discovery process based on trial and error, now expropriated by academics? (Location 3857)

Their prices were sophisticated and more efficient than those produced by the formula, and it was obvious what came first. (Location 3861)

Practitioners don’t write; they do. Birds fly and those who lecture them are the ones who write their story. So it is easy to see that history is truly written by losers with time on their hands and a protected academic position. (Location 3873)

think of cybernetics—which led to the “cyber” in cyberspace—as invented by Norbert Wiener in 1948. (Location 3898)

side effect of mathematics is making people over-optimize and cut corners, causing fragility. Just look how the new is increasingly more perishable than the old. (Location 3918)

These are exceptions, and tend to take place in physics and other places I call “linear,” where errors are from Mediocristan, not from Extremistan.) (Location 3947)

it would be for the “evidence-based” method that relies less on biological theories and more on the cataloging of empirical regularities, the phenomenology (Location 3951)

Why is it that science comes and goes and technologies remain stable? (Location 3953)

computer technology relies on science in most of its aspects; at no point did academic science serve in setting its direction, rather it served as a slave to chance discoveries in an opaque environment, with almost no one but college dropouts and overgrown high school (Location 3968)

The process remained self-directed and unpredictable at every step. And the great fallacy is to make it sound irrational—the irrational resides in not seeing a free option when it is handed to us. China (Location 3970)

Knowledge formation, even when theoretical, takes time, some boredom, and the freedom that comes from having another occupation, therefore allowing one to escape the journalistic-style pressure of modern publish-and-perish academia to produce cosmetic knowledge, much like the counterfeit watches one buys in Chinatown in New York City, the type that you know is counterfeit although it looks like the real thing. (Location 3982)

One is a professor surrounded and besieged by huddled students. The other is a solitary scholar, sitting in the tranquility and privacy of his chambers, at ease in the spacious and comfy room where his thoughts can move freely. Here we encounter the tumult of schools, the dust of classrooms, the indifference to beauty in collective workplaces, There, it is all order and beauty, Luxe, calme et volupté (Location 4001)

He showed that in countries in which the government intervened by funding research with tax money, private investment decreased and moved away. (Location 4010)

“technologists building technology,” or what he calls “hobby science.” (Location 4013)

preexisting technology and was created by uneducated, often isolated men who applied practical common sense and intuition to address the mechanical problems that beset them, and whose solutions would yield obvious economic reward. Now, second, (Location 4017)

David Edgerton did some work questioning the link between academic science and economic prosperity, along with the idea that people believed in the “linear model” (that is, that academic science was at the source (Location 4024)

it is always best to consider what his detractors say—they will uncover what’s worst in his argument. (Location 4029)

see if they address anything of merit—and to see where they come from. (Location 4030)

This reasoning is more against teleology than research in general. (Location 4038)

Why? Because innovations drift, and one needs flâneur-like abilities to keep capturing the opportunities that arise, not stay locked up in a bureaucratic mold. (Location 4046)

Visibly the money should go to the tinkerers, the aggressive tinkerers who you trust will milk the option. (Location 4049)

Consequently, payoff from research should necessarily be linear to number of trials, not total funds involved in the trials. (Location 4052)

“The payoff can be so large that you can’t afford not to be in everything.” (Location 4058)

“the realization by doctors and scientists that it was not necessary to understand in any detail what was wrong, but that synthetic chemistry blindly and randomly would deliver (Location 4082)

Further, the increase in our theoretical understanding—the “epistemic base,” to use Mokyr’s term—came with a decrease in the number of new drugs. (Location 4084)

knowledge was not in the hands of humans, but in those of (Location 4110)

Collaboration has explosive upside, what is mathematically called a superadditive function, i.e., one plus one equals more than two, and one plus one plus one equals much, much more than three. (Location 4117)

Crucially, this is an argument for unpredictability and Black Swan effects: since you cannot forecast collaborations and cannot direct them, you cannot see where the world is going. All (Location 4119)

planning—it makes the corporation option-blind, as it gets locked into a non-opportunistic course of action. (Location 4133)

The following discussion will show how the unknown, what you don’t see, can contain good news in one case and bad news in another. And in Extremistan territory, things get even more accentuated. (Location 4147)

antifragile, good news tends to be absent from past data, and for the fragile it is the bad (Location 4150)

When engaging in tinkering, you incur a lot of small losses, then once in a while you find something rather significant. (Location 4156)

Under positive asymmetries, that is, the antifragile case, the “unseen” is positive. (Location 4164)

Harvard should be expected to have much less understanding of things than cab drivers or people innocent of canned methods of inference (it is a heuristic, it can be wrong, but it works; it came to my attention as the Harvard Business School used to include Fragilista Robert C. Merton on its staff). So let us pick on Harvard Business (Location 4171)

not realizing that in a business with limited losses and unlimited potential (the exact opposite of banking), (Location 4175)

the logic owing to the gravity of the consequences. First, “most companies” in Extremistan make no profit—the rare event dominates, and a small number of companies generate all the shekels. (Location 4178)

And it would fragilize by favoring matters that are “sure bets.” (Location 4185)

We will return to these two distinct payoffs, with “bounded left” (limited losses, like Thales’ bet) and “bounded right” (limited gains, like insurance or banking). The distinction is crucial, as most payoffs in life fall in either one or the other category. (Location 4191)

Look for optionality; in fact, rank things according to optionality, (ii) preferably with open-ended, not closed-ended, payoffs; (iii) Do not invest in business plans but in people, so look for someone capable of changing six or seven times over his career, or more (an idea that is part of the modus operandi of the venture capitalist Marc Andreessen); one gets immunity from the backfit narratives of the business plan by investing in people. It is simply more robust to do so; (iv) Make sure you are barbelled, whatever that means in your business. (Location 4194)

with its rules supplied in advance in an explicit way, and the ecological, where we don’t know the rules and cannot isolate variables, as in real life. (Location 4257)

It is not well advertised that there is no evidence that abilities in chess lead to better reasoning off the chessboard—even those who play blind chess games with an entire cohort can’t remember things outside the board better than a regular person. (Location 4260)

answer was the soccer mom. (Location 4269)

their love of living things. (Location 4271)

soccer moms try to eliminate the trial and error, the antifragility, from children’s lives, move them away from the ecological and transform them into nerds working on preexisting (soccer-mom-compatible) maps of reality. (Location 4271)

Lions in captivity live longer; they are technically richer, and they are guaranteed job security (Location 4284)

Seneca, detected the problem (and the difference) with his saying “We do not study for life, but only for the lecture room,” non vitae, sed scolae discimus, (Location 4285)

they needed to have a clear task. (Location 4309)

They had to correspond to a sacrifice, an intellectual sacrifice of sorts. Actually my father kept hinting to me the problem of getting good grades himself: (Location 4310)

people whose position did not depend on credentials. (Location 4316)

I’ve debated many economists who claim to specialize in risk and probability: when one takes them slightly outside their narrow focus, but within the discipline of probability, they fall apart, with the disconsolate face of a gym rat in front of a gangster hit man. (Location 4329)

play it safe at school and read on your own, have zero expectation from school. Later, after I was jailed for assaulting a policeman in a student riot, he acted scared of me and let me do whatever I wanted. (Location 4360)

find a problem first, and figure out the math that works for it (just as one acquires language), rather than study in a vacuum through theorems and artificial examples, then change reality to make it look like these examples. (Location 4376)

“much of what other people know isn’t worth knowing.” (Location 4378)

unintelligible for the unintelligent—something Nietzsche (Location 4391)

But Fat Tony’s power in life is that he never lets the other person frame the question. He taught Nero that an answer is planted in every question; never respond with a straight answer to a question that makes no sense to you. (Location 4435)

and we used a version of it in the prologue, in the very definition of the fragilista who mistakes what he does not understand for nonsense. (Location 4493)

One is measured, balanced, rational, imbued with reason and self-restraint; the other is dark, visceral, wild, untamed, hard to understand, emerging from the inner layers of our selves. Ancient (Location 4502)

While many attribute (mistakenly) the notion of “creative destruction” to the economist Joseph Schumpeter (not wondering how something insightful and deep can come out of an economist),2 while, as we saw, the more erudite source it to Karl Marx, it is indeed Nietzsche who was first to coin the term with reference to Dionysus, whom he called “creatively destructive” and “destructively creative.” Nietzsche indeed (Location 4507)

that growth in knowledge—or in anything—cannot proceed without the Dionysian. It reveals matters that we (Location 4512)

Talking about a God (whom he also calls “destiny,” equating him with the interaction of causes), he gives him three manifestations. (Location 4516)

it is “a useless instrument for finding Truth in the moral and political sciences.” (Location 4527)

the heuristics that are transmitted by the elders and that we may not be mature enough to question. (Location 4534)

himself tyrant of his country in order to destroy its customs and entice its citizens into holding views contrary to law and order.” (Location 4540)

But Hayek missed the notion of optionality as a substitute for the social planner. In (Location 4556)

went to the second step of discussing applications—something as mundane as replacing our currency holdings with precious metals, as these are not owned by governments. Gray worked in an office next to Hayek and told me that Hayek was quite a dull fellow, lacking playfulness—hence optionality. (Location 4566)

The need to focus on the payoff from your actions instead of studying the structure of the world (or understanding the “True” and the “False”) has been largely missed in intellectual history. Horribly missed. The payoff, what happens to you (the benefits or harm from it), is always the most important thing, not the event itself. (Location 4573)

it is the payoff from the True and the False that dominates—and it is almost always asymmetric, with one consequence much bigger than the other, i.e., harboring positive and negative asymmetries (fragile or antifragile). Let me explain. (Location 4579)

Yet you want to behave as if it were True and spend millions on additional safety, because we are fragile to nuclear events. A third example: Do you think that this random medicine will harm you? False. Do you ingest these pills? No, no, no. (Location 4585)

you would realize that almost all of them have had asymmetric payoff, with one side carrying a larger consequence than the other. You decide principally based on fragility, not probability. Or to rephrase, You decide principally based on fragility, not so much on True/False. (Location 4588)

So, to repeat, the probability (hence True/False) does not work in the real world; it is the payoff that matters. (Location 4597)

but we know that collectively society doesn’t appear to advance with organized education. (Location 4621)

Which scam in history has lasted forever? I have an enormous faith in Time and History as eventual debunkers of fragility. Education is an institution that has been growing without external stressors; eventually the thing will collapse. (Location 4623)

We practitioners and quants aren’t too fazed by remarks on the part of academics—it would be like prostitutes listening to technical commentary by nuns. (Location 4662)

The realization that fragility was simply vulnerability to the volatility of the things that affect it was a huge personal embarrassment for me, (Location 4700)

so if you double, say, the dose, you get a lot more or a lot less than double the effect—if I throw at someone’s head a ten-pound stone, it will cause more than twice the harm of a five-pound stone, more than five times the harm of a two-pound stone, etc. (Location 4708)

what is fragile is something that is both unbroken and subjected to nonlinear effects—and extreme, rare events, since impacts of large size (or high speed) are rarer than ones of small size (and slow speed). (Location 4736)

For the fragile, the cumulative effect of small shocks is smaller than the single effect of an equivalent single large shock. (Location 4746)

For the antifragile, shocks bring more benefits (equivalently, less harm) as their intensity increases (up to a point). (Location 4750)

Simply, if for a given variation you have more upside than downside and you draw the curve, it will be convex; the opposite for the concave. (Location 4772)

For instance, Fat Tony had the exact opposite payoff than, say, a bank or financial institution in a certain transaction: he made a buck whenever they lost one, and vice versa. (Location 4775)

The more concave an exposure, the more harm from the unexpected, and disproportionately so. So very large deviations have a disproportionately larger and larger effect. (Location 4787)

So travel cost is fragile to the volatility of the number of cars on the highway; it does not depend so much on their average number. Every additional car increases travel time more than the previous one. (Location 4802)

those involved in creating “efficiencies” and “optimization” of systems. For instance, European airports and railroads are (Location 4805)

but a small increase in congestion, say 5 percent more planes in the sky owing to a tiny backlog, can give rise to chaos in airports and cause scenes of unhappy travelers camping on floors, their only solace some bearded fellow playing French folk songs on his guitar. (Location 4807)

When you hear of a “second-order” effect, it means convexity is causing the failure of approximation to represent the real story. (Location 4812)

Such personal discipline forces me to build buffers, and, as I carry a notebook, it allowed me to write an entire book of aphorisms. (Location 4826)

With, of course, no stress, as I have no fear of being late. (Location 4828)

Actually, by another rule of personal discipline I do not make appointments (other than lectures) except the very same morning, as a date on the calendar makes me feel like a prisoner, but that’s another story. (Location 4829)

If you double the exposure to something, do you more than double the harm it will cause? If so, then this is a situation of fragility. Otherwise, you are robust. (Location 4839)

something, and do it right away, regardless of the costs. (Location 4874)

Squeezes are exacerbated by size. When one is large, one becomes vulnerable to some errors, particularly horrendous squeezes. The squeezes become nonlinearly costlier as size increases. To see how size becomes (Location 4881)

Should there be a water shortage—hence a squeeze, since you have no choice but to shell out the money for water—you would have to pay a higher and higher price (Location 4885)

Owning, say, a cat or a dog would not bring about such high unexpected additional costs at times of squeeze—the overruns taken as a percentage of the total costs would be very low. (Location 4887)

size hurts you at times of stress; it is not a good idea to be large during difficult times. Some economists have been wondering why mergers of corporations do not appear to play (Location 4889)

Large animals are more fragile to shocks than small ones—again, stone and pebbles. Jared Diamond, always ahead of others, figured out such vulnerability in a paper called “Why Cats Have Nine Lives.” If you throw a cat or a mouse from an elevation of several times their height, they will typically manage to survive. Elephants, by comparison, break limbs very easily. (Location 4898)

The entire point of the squeeze is that they couldn’t wait, and they had no option but to turn a sale into a fire sale. For they had, over the weekend, uncovered a fraud. Jerome Kerviel, a rogue back office employee, was playing with humongous sums in the market and hiding these exposures from the main computer system. They had no choice but to sell, immediately, these stocks they didn’t know they owned. (Location 4906)

that an increase in the size of projects maps to poor outcomes and higher and higher costs of delays as a proportion of the total budget. (Location 4931)

Bridge and tunnel projects involve monolithic planning, as these cannot be broken up into small portions; their percentage costs overruns increase markedly with size. Same with dams. For roads, built by small segments, there (Location 4933)

shouts “fire,” and you have a dozen persons squashed to death. So we have a fragility of the theater to size, stemming from the fact that every additional person exiting brings more and more trauma (such disproportional harm is a negative convexity effect). A thousand people exiting (or trying to exit) in one minute is not the same as the same number exiting in half an hour. (Location 4944)

might miss the idea that smooth functioning at regular times is different from the rough functioning at times of stress. (Location 4948)

supplies. Just consider that the price of wheat more than tripled in the years 2004–2007 in response to a small increase in net demand, around 1 percent.3 Bottlenecks are the mothers of all squeezes. (Location 4951)

Or it makes arrival time decrease by just minutes, but increase by hours, an obvious asymmetry. (Location 4961)

when you add uncertainty to projects, they tend to cost more and take longer to complete. This applies to many, in fact almost all, projects. (Location 4965)

projects take longer than planned because the estimates are too optimistic. (Location 4968)

(which we defined as the divergence between the interest of the agent and that of his client) was not significant. (Location 4979)

And we have more nonlinearities—asymmetries, convexities—in today’s world. (Location 4981)

One problem somewhere can halt the entire project—so the projects tend to get as weak as the weakest link in their chain (an acute negative convexity effect). (Location 4983)

The problem of cost overruns and delays is much more acute in the presence of information technologies (IT), as computer projects cause a large share of these cost overruns, and it is better to focus on these principally. (Location 4987)

negative convexity effects are the main culprit, a direct and visible cause. There is an asymmetry in the way errors hit you—the same as with travel. (Location 4989)

negative, a three-month project cannot be completed in zero or negative time. So, on a timeline going left to right, errors add to the right end, not the left end of it. If uncertainty were linear we would observe some projects completed extremely early (just as we would arrive sometimes very early, sometimes very late). But this is not the (Location 4992)

The larger the military, the disproportionally larger the cost overruns. (Location 5002)

explosive nonlinearities (convexity effects) and why they should not be trusted with finances or any large-scale decisions. (Location 5004)

They just end up spending more than they tell us. This has led me to install a governmental golden rule: no borrowing allowed, forced fiscal balance. (Location 5006)

in August 2012, as this manuscript was heading to the printer, the Knight Capital Group had its computer system go wild and cause $10 million dollars of losses a minute, losing $480 million. (Location 5014)

We know that fossil fuels are harmful in a nonlinear way. The harm is necessarily concave (if a little bit of it is devoid of harm, a lot can cause climatic disturbances). (Location 5023)

The harm from polluting with ten different sources is smaller than the equivalent pollution from a single source. (Location 5026)

Extreme consumption of, say, tuna, can hurt other animals, mess with the ecosystem, and lead species to extinction. And not only does the harm scale nonlinearly, but the shortages lead to disproportional rises in prices. (Location 5031)

people when they get rich are starting to engage in the same activities and buy the same items. They drink Cabernet wine, hope to visit Venice and Florence, dream of buying a second home in the South of France, etc. Tourist locations are becoming unbearable: just go to Venice next July. (Location 5039)

the world is troubled with additional unpredictability and fragility. This comes with growth—at a country level, this Highly Dreamed-of GDP Growth. Even at an individual level, wealth means more headaches; we may need to work harder at mitigating the complications arising from wealth than we do at acquiring it. (Location 5046)

We looked at the report: simply, a move upward in an economic variable led to massive losses, a move downward (in the opposite direction), to small profits. (Location 5078)

figuring out if our miscalculations or misforecasts are on balance more harmful than they are beneficial, and how accelerating the damage is. (Location 5097)

The technique—detecting acceleration of harm—applies to anything that entails decision making under uncertainty, and risk management. While it was the most interesting in medicine and technology, the immediate (Location 5101)

The technique, a simple heuristic called the fragility (and antifragility) detection heuristic, (Location 5107)

Such acceleration of traffic time shows that traffic is fragile and you have too many cars and need to reduce traffic until the acceleration becomes mild (acceleration, I repeat, is acute concavity, or negative convexity effect). (Location 5109)

has debt—makes deficits incrementally worse. And financial leverage for a company has the same effect: you need to borrow more and more to get the same effect. Just (Location 5112)

Should sales increase 10 percent, then profits would increase less than they would decrease should sales drop 10 percent. (Location 5114)

Wars tend to get worse, not better. As we saw with traffic, variations (now called disturbances) tend to increase travel time from South Kensington to Piccadilly Circus, never shorten it. Some things, like traffic, do rarely experience the equivalent of positive disturbances. (Location 5136)

since one is more exposed to harm than benefit from error. If in the long run we get as much variation in the source of randomness one way as the other, the harm would severely outweigh the benefits. (Location 5138)

things that, in the long run, like disturbances (or errors), things that are neutral to them, and those that dislike them. (Location 5140)

Simply do a small change in the assumptions, and look at how large the effect, and if there is acceleration of such effect. (Location 5147)

As you see, the second piece of information, the variability, turned out to be more important than the first. (Location 5163)

Let us call that second piece of information the second-order effect, or, more precisely, the convexity effect. (Location 5165)

c) the more nonlinear the response, the less relevant the average, and the more relevant the stability around such average. (Location 5181)

(a) The severity of the problem of conflation (mistaking the price of oil for geopolitics, or mistaking a profitable bet for good forecasting—not convexity of payoff and optionality). (Location 5191)

The number of cars is the something, a variable; traffic time is the function of something. The behavior of the function is such that it is, as we said, “not the same thing.” We can see here that the function of something becomes different from the something under nonlinearities. (Location 5197)

The more nonlinear, the more the function of something divorces itself from the something. (Location 5200)

the more the function divorces itself from the something. (Location 5203)

the function is convex (antifragile), then the average of the function of something is going to be higher than the function of the average of something. (Location 5207)

Someone with a linear payoff needs to be right more than 50 percent of the time. Someone (Location 5221)

The hidden harm of fragility is that you need to be much, much better than random in your prediction and knowing where you are going, just to offset the negative effect. (Location 5235)

or positive convexity, options being a special case, then in the long run you will do reasonably well, outperforming the average in the presence of uncertainty. (Location 5237)

Acts of omission, not doing something, are not considered acts and do not appear to be part of one’s mission. (Location 5282)

I have used all my life a wonderfully simple heuristic: charlatans are recognizable in that they will give you positive advice, and only positive advice, exploiting our gullibility and sucker-proneness for recipes that hit you in a flash as just obvious, then evaporate later as you forget them. (Location 5284)

people become rich by not going bust (particularly when others do); (Location 5289)

knowledge consists in removing what we think is wrong—subtractive epistemology. (Location 5295)

we know a lot more what is wrong than what is right, or, phrased according to the fragile/robust classification, negative knowledge (what is wrong, what does not work) is more robust to error than positive knowledge (what is right, what works). (Location 5300)

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. (Location 5330)

What is wrong is quite robust, what you don’t know is fragile and speculative, but you do not take it seriously so you make sure it does not harm you in case it turns out to be false. (Location 5334)

simpler methods for forecasting and inference can work much, much better than complicated ones. (Location 5338)

First, extreme effects: there are domains in which the rare event (I repeat, good or bad) plays a disproportionate share and we tend to be blind to it, so focusing on the exploitation of such a rare event, or protection against it, changes a lot, a lot of the risky exposure. Just worry about Black Swan exposures, and life is easy. (Location 5342)

Accordingly, as I will show, 1 percent modification of systems can lower fragility (or increase antifragility) by about 99 percent—and all it takes is a few steps, very few steps, often at low cost, to make things better and safer. (Location 5356)

10 percent consuming 64 percent of the total pie. Bent (Location 5363)

just that by invoking more than one reason you are trying to convince yourself to do something. (Location 5386)

Obvious decisions (robust to error) require no more than a single reason. (Location 5387)

“A philosopher should be known for one single idea, not more” (I can’t source it to Bergson, but the rule is good enough). (Location 5391)

“I never have ideas” was the reply (in fact he just did not have chickens***t ideas). (Location 5392)

the antifragile benefits from volatility and disorder, the fragile is harmed. Well, time is the same as disorder. (Location 5413)

Odds are that your imagination will be adding things to the present world. (Location 5426)

simply, things that do not belong to the coming times. (Location 5428)

Positive Black Swans are more unpredictable than negative ones. (Location 5429)

The fragile will eventually break—and, luckily, we are capable of figuring out what is fragile. (Location 5436)

What is currently fragile will be replaced by something else, of course. (Location 5443)

An interesting apparent paradox is that, according to these principles, longer-term predictions are more reliable than short-term ones, given that one can be quite certain that what is Black Swan–prone will be eventually swallowed by history since time augments the probability of such an event. (Location 5447)

Our world looks too close to theirs, much closer to theirs than they ever imagined or wanted to imagine. (Location 5458)

showed that in the early 2000s we produce two and a half times as many bicycles as we do cars and invest most of our technological resources in maintaining existing equipment or refining old technologies (note that this is not just a Chinese phenomenon: (Location 5478)

Ironically, it wants to look like less of a technology; it has been undergoing meaningful improvements, with the precise aim of being less and less noticeable. (Location 5480)

we have the tendency to take the present as a baseline, then produce a speculative destiny by adding new technologies (Location 5485)

So we will tend to over-technologize it and underestimate the might of the equivalent of these small wheels on suitcases that will be staring at us for the next millennia. (Location 5488)

(failure to subtract the fragile rather than add to destiny). (Location 5493)

Technology is at its best when it is invisible. I am convinced that technology is of greatest benefit when it displaces the deleterious, unnatural, alienating, and, most of all, inherently fragile preceding technology. (Location 5509)

Even now, we are using technology to reverse technology. Recall my walk to the restaurant wearing shoes (Location 5520)

Next let me show how the future is mostly in the past. (Location 5535)

Let us separate the perishable (humans, single items) from the nonperishable, the potentially perennial. (Location 5537)

So the longer a technology lives, the longer it can be expected to live. (Location 5553)

Gott made a list of Broadway shows on a given day, May 17, 1993, and predicted that the longest-running ones would last longest, and vice versa. (Location 5567)

their relative freedom from the system and courage to take action that older people lose as they become trapped in life. (Location 5595)

investors are led to overestimate their chances of success. (Location 5606)

that we notice change, not statics. (Location 5612)

We notice what varies and changes more than what plays a large role but doesn’t change. (Location 5618)

Most “innovations” are failures, just as most books are flops, which should not discourage anyone from trying. (Location 5621)

But you forget the days when you used to have the same model and were thrilled with it. (Location 5630)

programs—it seems that we notice differences between versions rather than commonalities. (Location 5633)

feel more satisfied after an initial boost, then rapidly revert to their baseline of well-being. (Location 5638)

What is artisanal has the love of the maker infused in it, and tends to satisfy—we don’t have this nagging impression of incompleteness we encounter with electronics. (Location 5664)

Articles made by an artisan cause fewer treadmill effects. And they tend to have some antifragility—recall how my artisanal shoes take months before becoming comfortable. Items with an on-off switch tend to have no such redeeming antifragility. (Location 5666)

There is some evolutionary warfare between architects producing a compounded form of neomania. (Location 5670)

architecture is that it is not fragile enough to break physically, so these buildings stick out just to torture our consciousness—you cannot exercise your prophetic powers by leaning on their fragility. (Location 5671)

top-down is usually irreversible, so mistakes tend to stick, whereas bottom-up is gradual and incremental, with creation and destruction along the way, though presumably with a positive slope. (Location 5673)

Wealth of details, ironically, leads to inner peace. Yet Gaudi’s idea went nowhere, except in promoting modernism in its unnatural and naive versions: later modernistic structures are smooth and completely stripped of fractal jaggedness. (Location 5686)

Almost everything built since World War II has an unnatural smoothness to it. (Location 5689)

Again, we have the machine-organism dichotomy: to her the city is an organism, (Location 5700)

they don’t translate into something larger because problems become more abstract as they scale up, and the abstract is not something human nature can manage properly. (Location 5704)

It could be that the absence of these large avenues and absence of a dominating state is part of its appeal. (Location 5712)

were the ones that had been left alone by the nineteenth-century renovators. (Location 5715)

Even after they are built, buildings keep incurring mutations as if they needed to slowly evolve (Location 5716)

nature—here again technology making itself (literally) invisible. (Location 5722)

We are now moving back from the smooth stone to the rich fractal and (Location 5727)

Now modern technology allows us to merge with nature, and instead of a small window, an entire wall can be transparent and face lush and densely forested areas. (Location 5728)

The problem in deciding whether a scientific result or a new “innovation” is a breakthrough, that is, the opposite of noise, is that one needs to see all aspects of the idea—and there is always some opacity that time, and only time, can dissipate. (Location 5762)

Likewise, seemingly uninteresting results that go unnoticed, can, years later turn out to be breakthroughs. (Location 5768)

Jules Regnault, who discovered optionality and mapped it mathematically—along with what we dubbed the philosopher’s stone. (Location 5779)

So attending breakthrough conferences might be, statistically speaking, as much a waste of time as buying a mediocre lottery ticket, one with a small payoff. (Location 5786)

Amateurs in any discipline are the best, if you can connect with them. Unlike dilettantes, career professionals are to knowledge what prostitutes are to (Location 5791)

that all his peers do is read timely material that becomes instantly obsolete. (Location 5803)

Outlining the reasoning on fragility and asymmetry (concavity to errors), I explained that I would expect the future to be populated with wall-to-wall bookshelves, the device called the telephone, artisans, and such, using the notion that most technologies that are now twenty-five years old should be around in another twenty-five years—once again, most, not (Location 5809)

The large, optimized, overreliant on technology, overreliant on the so-called scientific method instead of age-tested heuristics. (Location 5813)

Corporations that are large today should be gone, as they have always been weakened by what they think is their strength: size, which is the enemy of corporations as it causes disproportionate fragility to Black Swans. (Location 5813)

By issuing warnings based on vulnerability—that is, subtractive prophecy—we are closer to the original role of the prophet: to warn, not necessarily to predict, and to predict calamities if people don’t listen. (Location 5818)

But they don’t: something deemed “original” tends to be modeled on something that was new at the time but is no longer new, so being an Einstein for many scientists means solving a similar problem to the one Einstein solved when at the time Einstein was not solving a standard problem at all. (Location 5850)

People in risk management only consider risky things that have hurt them in the past (given their focus on “evidence”), not realizing that, in the past, before these events took place, these occurrences that hurt them severely were completely without precedent, escaping standards. (Location 5854)

completely without precedent, escaping standards. (Location 5855)

writing and reading that have survived are like the tile to the dog, a match between natural friends, because they correspond to something deep in our nature. (Location 5864)

negativa, of course (by removal of the unnatural): only resort to medical techniques when the health payoff is very large (say, saving a life) and visibly exceeds its potential harm, such as incontrovertibly needed surgery or lifesaving medicine (penicillin). (Location 5904)

This is squarely Thalesian, not Aristotelian (that is, decision making based on payoffs, not knowledge). (Location 5906)

(a) nonlinearity in exposure or dose-response and (b) potential fragility or antifragility. (Location 5911)

the non-natural needs to prove its benefits, not the natural—according (Location 5918)

one of misinterpreting NED (no evidence of disease) for evidence of no disease. (Location 5922)

Erwan Le Corre, who believes in naturalistic exercise. (Location 5928)

So I mumbled to the emergency room doctor whether he had any statistical evidence of benefits from applying ice to my nose or if it resulted from a naive version of an interventionism. (Location 5934)

was able to confirm that there is no compelling empirical evidence in favor of the reduction of swelling. (Location 5938)

this need to do something, this defect of thinking that we knew better, and denigration of the unobserved. (Location 5940)

the onus is on the doctors to show us why reducing fever is good, why eating breakfast before engaging in activity is healthy (there is no evidence), or why bleeding patients is the best alternative (they’ve stopped doing so). (Location 5946)

The hidden costs of health care are largely in the denial of antifragility. (Location 5950)

from the attempt by humans to make life comfortable for ourselves against our own interest, since the comfortable is what fragilizes. (Location 5951)

we do not need evidence of harm to claim that a drug or an unnatural via positiva procedure is dangerous. (Location 5955)

as it was the great era of scientism, they were convinced they could make it better than nature. (Location 5958)

Chemists assumed that they could produce a fat replacement that was superior to lard or butter from so many standpoints. (Location 5959)

Today trans fat is widely banned as it turned out that it kills people, as it is behind heart disease and cardiovascular problems. (Location 5964)

the benefits appeared to be obvious and immediate, though small, and the harm remained delayed for years, at least three-quarters of a generation. (Location 5968)

in which the benefits are small, and visible—and the costs very large, delayed, and hidden. (Location 5972)

linear. We should not take risks with near-healthy people; but we should take a lot, a lot more risks with those deemed in danger.1 (Location 5976)

can hardly find a via positiva one that makes a healthy person unconditionally “better” (and if someone shows me one, I will be skeptical of yet-unseen side effects). (Location 5987)

in a “mature” market there is no free lunch anymore, and what appears as a free lunch has a hidden risk. (Location 5989)

helps the healthy without visible downside, it is most likely that there is a concealed trap somewhere. (Location 5991)

nature would have been likely to find this magic pill by itself. (Location 5994)

“The standard model currently in use applies a linear scale, extrapolating cancer risk from high doses to low doses of ionizing radiation.” (Location 6000)

They have been scraping the bottom of the barrel, looking for disease among healthier and healthier people, lobbying for reclassifications of conditions, and fine-tuning sales tricks to get doctors to overprescribe. (Location 6002)

If the patient is close to death, all speculative treatments should be encouraged—no holds barred. Conversely, if the patient is near healthy, then Mother Nature should be the doctor. (Location 6009)

explained that the volatility of an exposure can matter more than its average—the difference is the “convexity bias.” (Location 6012)

Remarkably, convexity effects work in an identical way with options, innovations, anything convex. Now let us apply it … to lungs. (Location 6018)

What made medicine mislead people for so long is that its successes were prominently displayed, and its mistakes literally buried—just like so many other interesting stories in the cemetery of history. (Location 6034)

And, talking about radiation, few wonder why, after hundreds of million of years of having our skins exposed to sun rays, we suddenly need so much protection from them—is it that our exposure is more harmful than before because of changes in the atmosphere, or populations living in an environment mismatching the pigmentation of their skin—or rather, that makers of sun protection products need to make some profits? (Location 6041)

The same problem of naive interpretation mixed with intervention bias applies to cancer detection: there is a marked bias in favor of treatment, even when it brings more harm, because the legal system favors intervention. (Location 6059)

Unlike with the usual pharmaceutical interventions, it is hard to say that Mother Nature would have done a better (Location 6063)

Every time you take an antibiotic, you help, to some degree, the mutation of germs into antibiotic-resistant strains. (Location 6077)

Speaking of which, high fructose corn syrup was the result of neomania, financed by a Nixon administration in love with technology and victim of some urge to subsidize corn farmers. (Location 6091)

if the person is very ill, there are no iatrogenics to worry about. (Location 6097)

But the reasoning does not hold in an informational dimension in which food is not just a source of energy; it conveys information about the environment (like stressors). (Location 6103)

Complex systems have feedback loops, so what you “burn” depends on what you consume, and how you consume it. (Location 6106)

the beginning of the mother of all exposures to Black Swans. (Location 6113)

Evolution proceeds by undirected, convex bricolage or tinkering, inherently robust, i.e., with the achievement of potential stochastic gains thanks to continuous, repetitive, small, localized mistakes. (Location 6114)

Our record of understanding risks in complex systems (biology, economics, climate) has been pitiful, marred with retrospective distortions (we only understand the risks after the damage takes place, yet we keep making the mistake), and there is nothing to convince me that we have gotten better at risk management. In this particular case, because of the scalability of the errors, you are exposed to the wildest possible form of randomness. (Location 6117)

differently. If there is something in nature you don’t understand, odds are it makes sense in a deeper way that is beyond your understanding. So (Location 6122)

what Mother Nature does is rigorous until proven otherwise; what humans and science do is flawed until proven otherwise. (Location 6125)

I believe that “insulin” as a cause is a fragile theory but that the phenomenology, the empirical effect, is real. Let me introduce the ideas of the postclassical school of the skeptical empiricists. (Location 6149)

as robust as possible to changes in theories (let me repeat that my deference to Mother Nature is entirely statistical and risk-management-based, i.e., again, grounded in the notion of fragility). (Location 6172)

James Le Fanu showed how our understanding of the biological processes was coupled with a decline of pharmaceutical discoveries, as if rationalistic theories were blinding and somehow a handicap. (Location 6173)

An attribution problem arises when the person imputes his positive results to his own skills and his failures to luck. (Location 6192)

This random variability is often mistaken for information, hence leading to intervention. (Location 6208)

the magnitude of the result, the importance of the effect, is not captured by what is called “statistical significance,” something that tends to deceive specialists. (Location 6223)

how much a condition, say, blood pressure a certain number of points higher than normal, is likely to affect your life expectancy; and how significant the result is. Why is this serious? If you think that the (Location 6224)

supplying pompous numbers such as “regression” and “correlation” made egregious mistakes translating into practice the numbers they were producing themselves—they (Location 6232)

David Freedman showed (very convincingly) with a coauthor that the link everyone is obsessing about between salt and blood pressure has no statistical basis. It may exist for some hypertensive people, but it is more likely the exception than the rule. (Location 6240)

If we live longer, it is thanks to medicine’s benefits in cases that are lethal, in which the condition is severe—hence low iatrogenics, as we saw, the convex cases. (Location 6287)

costs of the diseases of civilization (primitive societies are largely free of cardiovascular disease, cancer, dental cavities, economic theories, lounge music, and other modern ailments); (Location 6290)

(cancer doctors certainly provide a positive contribution in advanced—and curable—cases, while interventionistic personal doctors, patently, provide a negative one). (Location 6293)

bulk of the deaths coming from birth and childhood mortality. Conditional life expectancy was high—just consider (Location 6301)

It has been shown that administering them to women over forty on an annual basis does not lead to an increase in life expectancy (at best; it could even lead to a decrease). (Location 6305)

The doctor, seeing the tumor, cannot avoid doing something harmful, like surgery followed by radiation, chemotherapy, or both—that is, more harmful than the tumor. There (Location 6307)

treating the tumor that will not kill you shortens your life—chemotherapy is toxic. (Location 6309)

If all of those dying prematurely from cancer had a malignant tumor, that does not mean that all malignant tumors lead to death from cancer. (Location 6310)

We estimated that cutting medical expenditures by a certain amount (while limiting the cuts to elective surgeries and treatments) would extend people’s lives in most rich countries, especially the United (Location 6321)

the error of treating the mildly ill puts them in a concave position. (Location 6323)

Whenever possible, replace the doctor with human antifragility. (Location 6326)

Why? Subtraction of a substance not seasoned by our evolutionary history reduces the possibility of Black Swans while leaving one open to improvements. (Location 6330)

it seems that the only way we may manage to extend people’s lives is through caloric restriction—which seems to cure many ailments in humans and extend lives in laboratory animals. (Location 6350)

We know we can cure many cases of diabetes by putting people on a very strict starvation-style diet, shocking their system—in fact the mechanism had to have been known heuristically for a long time since there are institutes and sanatoria for curative starvation in Siberia. (Location 6352)

has been shown that many people benefit from the removal of products that did not exist in their ancestral habitat: sugars and other carbohydrates in unnatural format, wheat products (those with celiac disease, but almost all of us are somewhat ill-adapted to this new addition to the human diet), milk and other cow products (for those of non–Northern European origin who did not develop lactose tolerance), sodas (both diet and regular), wine (for those of Asian origin who do not have the history of exposure), vitamin pills, food supplements, the family doctor, headache medicine and other painkillers. (Location 6354)

Oranges seem to be the postmedieval equivalent of candy; they did not exist in the ancient Mediterranean. Apparently, (Location 6366)

original apples were devoid of sweet taste and fruit corporations bred them for maximal sweetness—the mountain apples of my childhood were acid, bitter, crunchy, and much smaller than the shiny variety in U.S. stores said to keep the doctor away. As to liquid, my rule is drink no liquid (Location 6368)

I drink just wine, water, and coffee. (Location 6371)

(Aside from the point that the citrus our ancestors ingested was not sweet, they never ingested carbohydrates without large, very large quantities of fiber. Eating an orange or an apple is not biologically equivalent (Location 6373)

Food tastes so much better after exertion. (Location 6382)

anything that “softens” or “mollifies” was seen negatively. (Location 6383)

they disliked comfort and understood its side effects. The same (Location 6384)

Few have considered that money has its own iatrogenics, and that separating some people from their fortune would simplify their lives and bring great benefits in the form of healthy stressors. (Location 6393)

pictures of my friend the godfather of the Paleo ancestral lifestyle, Art De Vany, who is extremely fit in his seventies (much more than most people thirty years younger than him), and those (Location 6398)

Greek Orthodox calendar and its required fasts. (Location 6417)

Among other things the role of religion is to tame the iatrogenics of abundance—fasting makes you lose your sense of entitlement. But there are more subtle aspects. (Location 6423)

irregularity has its benefits in some areas; regularity has its detriments. (Location 6425)

But such ability to be omnivorous had to come in response to more variegated environments with unplanned, haphazard, and, what is key, serial availability of sources—specialization is the response to a very stable habitat free of abrupt changes, redundancy of pathways the response to a more variegated one. Diversification of function had to come in response to variety. And a variety of a certain structure. (Location 6430)

The lion, on the other hand, needs to rely on more luck; it succeeds in a small percentage of the kills, less than 20 percent, but when it eats, it gets in a quick and easy way all these nutrients produced thanks (Location 6435)

when we are herbivores, we eat steadily; but when we are predators we eat more randomly. Hence our proteins need to be consumed randomly for statistical reasons. (Location 6438)

Valter Longo, for instance, noted that prisoners in concentration camps got less sick in the first phase of food restriction, then broke down later. He (Location 6485)

since it is information, the carrier of the gene is fragile, and needs to be so for the gene to get stronger. We live to produce information, or improve on it. Nietzsche had the Latin pun aut liberi, aut libri—either children or books, both information that carries through the centuries. (Location 6512)

While I propose removing offensive elements from people’s diets (and lives), he works by adding, popping close to two hundred pills daily. Beyond that, these attempts at immortality leave me with deep moral revulsion. (Location 6518)

I am not here to live forever, as a sick animal. (Location 6521)

humans. I am here to die a heroic death for the sake of the collective, to produce offspring (and prepare them for life and provide for them), or eventually, books—my (Location 6522)

Paul Veyne has recently shown that it is a big myth that gladiators were forced labor. (Location 6614)

Ralph Nader has a simple rule: people voting for war need to have at least one descendant (child or grandchild) exposed to combat. (Location 6648)

second heuristic is that we need to build redundancy, a margin of safety, avoiding optimization, mitigating (even removing) asymmetries in our sensitivity to risk. (Location 6658)

am stating here that I find it profoundly unethical to talk without doing, without exposure to harm, without having one’s skin in the game, without having something at risk. (Location 6673)

postdictors, who explain things after the fact—because they are in the business of talking—always look smarter than predictors. (Location 6712)

Never ask anyone for their opinion, forecast, or recommendation. Just ask them what they have—or don’t have—in their portfolio. (Location 6789)

frequency, i.e., how often someone is right is largely irrelevant in the real world, but alas, one needs to be a practitioner, not a talker, to figure it out. On (Location 6802)

“Behind you is the sea, before you, the enemy. You are vastly outnumbered. All you have is sword and courage.” (Location 6861)

Never put your enemy’s back to the wall. (Location 6865)

Almutanabbi, who lived about a thousand years ago; his poetry in the original has a hypnotic effect on the reader (listener), (Location 6867)

French adventurer and writer André Malraux. (Location 6879)