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The Bed of Procrustes

Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

In science you need to understand the world. In business you need other people to misunderstand it.

An erudite is someone who displays less than he knows; a consultant the opposite.

Using as an excuse, others' failure of common sense, is itself a failure of common sense

The only objective measure of aging is when a person starts to talk about aging.

Most of what they call humility is carefully disguised arrogance

You never win an argument until they attack your person.

Losers moan about mankind's flaws, biases, contradictions and irrationality - when they could be exploiting them for fun and profit.

Usually what we call a good listener is just skilfully polished indifference.

When she shouts that what you did was unforgivable, she has already begun to forgive you.

The fastest way to become rich is to socialize with the poor, and the quickest way to become poor is to socialize with the rich.

Charm is the ability to insult people without them noticing.

Since Plato, knowledge has focused on True/False. Need to shift concern to Robust/Fragile, and in society, to the more important concern of Sucker/Non-Sucker.

Knowledge is subtractive, not additive. Learn by what we take away (what doesn't work, what not to do) rather than what we add (what to do)

And corollary of that is that easy way to spot a charlatan (consultant or stock adviser) who tells you what to do instead of what not to do.

They think that intelligence is about detecting patterns, but in a complex world, intelligence consists of ignoring things that are irrelevant - ie avoiding false patterns.

We don't know what 'happiness' means or how to make it, but we know very well how to avoid unhappiness.

In some languages, the word for 'forecast' and 'prophecy' is the same.

True wisdom is to figure out by reasoning alone what others learn only from their mistakes, accidents and bankruptcies.

When someone announces that "There is nothing to worry about" you can be absolutely certain that there is.

Jensen's inequality: you can drown crossing a river that is, on average, four feet deep

Public companies , like human cells, are programmed for aproptosis, suicide through debt and hidden risks.

Those who ave nothing to prove never need to say they have nothing to prove.

A verbal threat is the most authentic certificate of impotence.

We take it for granted that products and places will be less attractive than they are in the brochure, but we never forgive people for being worse than their first impressions.

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