- File Size: 10228 KB
- Print Length: 254 pages
- Publisher: Random House (February 27, 2018)
- Publication Date: February 27, 2018
- Language: English
- ASIN: B075HYVP7C
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#22,456 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
- #1 in Financial Risk Management (Kindle Store)
- #4 in Business Ethics (Kindle Store)
- #8 in Financial Risk Management (Books)
Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life Kindle Edition
|New from||Used from|
|Length: 254 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled|
- Kindle (5th Generation)
- Kindle Keyboard
- Kindle DX
- Kindle (2nd Generation)
- Kindle (1st Generation)
- Kindle Paperwhite
- Kindle Paperwhite (5th Generation)
- Kindle Touch
- Kindle Voyage
- Kindle Oasis
- Kindle Fire HDX 8.9''
- Kindle Fire HDX
- Kindle Fire HD (3rd Generation)
- Fire HDX 8.9 Tablet
- Fire HD 7 Tablet
- Fire HD 6 Tablet
- Kindle Fire HD 8.9"
- Kindle Fire HD(1st Generation)
- Kindle Fire(2nd Generation)
- Kindle Fire(1st Generation)
- Fire HD 10
- Fire HD 8
Free Kindle Reading Apps
- Fire Phone
- Kindle for Windows Phone
- Kindle for BlackBerry
- Kindle for Android Phones
- Kindle for Android Tablets
- Kindle for iPhone
- Kindle for iPod Touch
- Kindle for iPad
- Kindle for Mac
- Kindle for PC
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Would you like to tell us about a lower price?
Related video shorts (0)Upload your video
Be the first videoYour name here
369 customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Taleb attempts to side-step his obvious hypocrisy by reminding the reader ad nauseam that he is a former options trader. If Taleb were opining about matters related to his real-world financial trading experiences, that would be a fair point. But most of Taleb’s observations have nothing t do with either his real-world observations or his academic training. At least the economists whom Taleb excoriates have the good sense to stick to economics.
For example, Taleb argues that the EPA is unnecessary because (according to Taleb) the mere threat of civil litigation is sufficient to prevent corporations from polluting our water and air. Unlike Talab, who was a 10 YO boy living in Lebanon when the EPA was enacted, I grew up in a pre-EPA American steel mill town during the 1950s and 1960s. I know from my own experience that after the EPA was passed in 1970, the sky over my town turned from brown to blue and my bronchitis went away. Moreover, I know from my 30+ years of experience as a lawyer, that the threat of civil litigation has little, if any, deterrent effect on polluters. So, based on my own “skin in the game” in the form of scared lung tissue and actual litigation experience, I know Taleb is both wrong and guilty of spouting the very sort of BS that he derides throughout his book.
I do not mean to suggest that I disagree with everything (or even most) of that the author has to say. Taleb does have a lot of interesting and thoughtful observations. He’s obviously very smart.
However, he apparently unable (or too lazy) to organize his thoughts into a coherent body of work. This 223 book has 7 parts and 19 chapters, each of which has numerous sub-parts, many of which are less than a single page. The author's ideas appear to be unrelated and presented in a random fashion. It was interesting, but not very worthwhile.
When I buy books I usually read one star reviews. Some of them are crap (my book arrived with six missing pages!), but some give you a pretty good idea of what you are going to find. There is one star review that gets close to 5000 words limit, followed by the long thread of comments exchange where the replies by the original author get, again, to the said limit. If someone gets that fired up by the book that he regurgitates thousands of words - it's well worth a few bucks and I simply must read it.
Anyway, as always with Taleb, I now have a new reading list based on his footnotes. Yes, he comes across as an angry man. Yes, he has irrational dislike of academics (as do I) and policy makers. Yes, some of his statements are contradictory and yes, sometimes he goes too far in his arguments. But this is exactly what makes books worthwhile the time spent reading them. Contradictions have to be sorted, but to do so you have to think about the subject and come to your own conclusions, and this involves effort, and this is what makes books stimulating.
I highly recommend this book.
Let’s start with the cons:
1. I certainly won’t be the first to notice that Taleb can be mean-spirited. But why does he insist on presenting his views in this way? The communication of his ideas, often profound, does not require a mean-spirited or condescending tone. For however brilliant Taleb thinks he is, his skills in persuasion are severely lacking; he’s alienating a significant readership that may have otherwise been more receptive to his ideas.
Not very far into the book we see Taleb take cheap shots at Steven Pinker, out of nowhere, discussing a topic that has nothing to do with any of Pinker’s actual ideas or positions. One wonders why Taleb cannot just present his ideas without the incessant personal attacks and condescension.
2. His overall philosophy appears to be self-refuting. He reviles “intellectuals,” professors, and thinkers while praising “doers” and men of practice. He’s particularly distrustful of those who give advice for a living. Here’s Taleb:
“Avoid taking advice from someone who gives advice for a living, unless there is a penalty for their advice.”
So should we then ignore THIS advice? As far as I can tell, Skin in the Game is a work of philosophy, an intellectual exercise that argues against the value of intellectual exercise. This is the same self-refuting logic of relativism—in that the statement “everything is relative” is self-refuting because the statement itself needs to be absolute.
If Taleb is wrong in any part of his philosophy it doesn’t appear that he would incur any penalty (no skin in the game). The upside for him is book sales with little to no downside risk, so by using his own logic we should conclude to not trust him.
Also, to the extent that you believe ideas have power you might find yourself disagreeing with Taleb’s extreme position that no good ideas could possibly come from someone in an academic position (particularly from the reviled economists).
Except that Taleb uses economic theories to frame his thinking. The Tragedy of the Commons, something Taleb discusses in his book, was developed by the economist William Forster Lloyd in his armchair. Even Taleb’s Black Swan concept is a reformulation of the Peso problem developed by...economists.
I’m sure anyone can think up examples, rather easily, of useful ideas that were discovered by intellectuals or from university research.
3. Taleb obsesses about the superiority of practice over academics and theory. This is a questionable proposition.
As just one example, a recent study in the American Journal of Medicine concluded that “patients whose doctors had practiced for at least 20 years stayed longer in the hospital and were more likely to die compared to those whose doctors got their medical license in the past five years.”
My own personal experience corroborates this, as a medical student was able to correctly diagnose what the attending physician had missed on a trip to the ER. Very experienced, practical individuals sometimes perpetuate bad habits and fail to keep informed of the theories and academics that lead to better practice. This point is completely lost on Taleb.
4. Taleb’s definition of rationality as any action that promotes survival is patently false, as a simple thought experiment can show. Imagine a hypothetical survival machine is available for your use. By plugging yourself in, it will guarantee and maximize your life span and, on a social scale, maximizes reproduction. The price is that the machine also inflicts a high degree of pain and cuts you off from contact with other people.
According to the logic of Taleb, the rational thing to do would be to plug into this machine. Of course, no one would volunteer to do this because survival is not what motivates rational behavior. Any rational agent would choose one year of pleasant life over 100 years in the survival machine, because actions have value according to how they promote or are perceived to promote well-being or pleasure.
Taleb, using this more believable definition of rationality, could have used it to argue the same points, namely how religious belief cannot be called irrational if it promotes well-being, which includes psychological well-being and survival but not survival alone.
That Taleb is antagonistic and holds some questionable views does not mean that he’s wrong about everything. When not being demeaning or taking extreme positions, Taleb writes about some of the most original, thought-provoking, and profound ideas. And even when you find yourself disagreeing with him, he makes you think. For this reason alone, the book is worth checking out.
The idea that the extent of people’s stakes in particular outcomes is a critical yet underrated determinant of events is a profound idea with several implications, which Taleb skillfully explores throughout the book. And his idea that you should have to pay some kind of penalty for decisions that negatively impact others—risk sharing vs. risk transfer—is a solid framework for thinking about a host of issues. Of course, these ideas would be easier to swallow if presented with a little more humility, but I suppose we should know what to expect from Taleb by now.