Book Review: In the end I still don’t know whether I like it or hate it

“Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

I can see why there are so many mixed reviews on this book. It is a very smart book, it is thought provoking and it does give several interesting angles on certain things, but my God how arrogant this guy is. Throughout the book he pretty much mocks everyone that he can think of (from Newton to Soros) from a bias point of view, without considering other elements that determine a success. And his unnecessary complex style of writing gives the impression that he’s trying too hard to be recognized as an intellectual, thus sometimes make the book exhausting to read.

Nonetheless, true to his central theme of randomness, he can present a random range of pretty interesting topics, while providing a lot of excellent examples to back up some of his fine theories, such as the ones about “survivorship bias.” And actually he can tell engaging stories, although most of the concluding analysis ended up being an anti climax. But what is up with his long list of “references” at the back section of the book, while claiming in the introduction that he “detest the practice of random use of borrowed wisdom.” Do I smell a hint of hypocrisy here?

In the end I don’t even know whether I like or hate this book, but one thing for sure, this is a book with an attitude. Ultimately, this could easily be a key reference for those who are strongly believe in Random Walk Theory and Efficient Market Hypothesis.