Aphorisms from Taleb


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After reading Black Swan  & Antifragile, I have become a Taleb fanatic.  He is truly an original thinker among modern writers. For fast readers who expect to get the gist of book in few hours, Taleb may not be their favorite. His writing style shows his erudition that beautifully mixes some fictitious story telling coupled with his autobiographical vignettes. But the best part is his witty aphorisms he throws all over in his Incerto series. So it was easy for him to publish a book of just aphorisms called The bed of Procrustes. This is probably the only book of Taleb, that I could complete in a day. I took more than 2 weeks to complete Black Swan or Anti Fragile, but during those times I was glued to every line of his writing. Below are some of my favorite aphorisms from Bed of Procrustes,
An Erudite is someone who displays less than he knows, a journalist or consultant, the opposite
If your anger  decreases with time, you did injustice, and if it increases, you suffered injustice
Procrastination is the soul rebelling against entrapment
The fastest  way to become rich is to socialize with poor, and the fastest way to become poor is to socialize with the rich
Nothing is more permanent than “temporary” arrangements, deficits, truces & relationships; and nothing is more temporary than “permanent” ones
Wisdom in the young is as unattractive as frivolity in the elderly
The book is the only medium left that hasn’t been corrupted by the profane: everything else on your eyelids manipulates you with an ad.
Karl Marx, a visionary ,figured out that you can control a slave much better by convincing him he is an employee
People focus on role models; it is more effective to find antimodels – people you don’t  want to resemble when you grow up.
Failure of second-order thinking: he tells you a secret and somehow expects you to keep it, when he just gave you evidence that he can’t keep it himself
Only in recent history has “working hard” signaled pride rather than shame for lack of talent, finesse and mostly ,sprezzatura
It is much dangerous to think like a man of action than to act like a man of thought
Almutanabbi boasted that he was the greatest of all Arab poets, but he said so in the greatest of all Arab poems
We are satisfied with natural (or old) objects like vistas or classical paintings but insatiable with technologies, amplifying small improvements in versions, obsessed about 2.0, caught in mental treadmill
People often need to suspend their self promotion and have someone in their lives they do not need to impress. This explains dog ownership
Robust is when you care more about the few who like your work than the multitude who dislike it (artists); fragile when you care more about the few who dislike your work than the multitude who like it (politicians)
Just as smooth surfaces, competitive sports and specialized work fossilize mind and body, competitive academia fossilizes soul
Knowledge is subtractive, not additive – what we subtract ( reduction by what does not work, what not to do), not what we add ( what to do)
Love without sacrifice is like theft
What organized dating sites fail to understand is that people are far more interesting in what they don’t say about themselves
You know you have influence when people start noticing your absence more than the presence of others
Journalists as reverse aphorists:my statement “you need skills to get a BMW, skills plus luck to become a Warren Buffet” was summarized as “ Taleb says Buffet has no skills”
The curious mind embraces science; the gifted and sensitive , the art ; the practical ,business; the leftover becomes an economist


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