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The Black Swan (book 26 of 26)

The Black Swan (book 26 of 26)

December 30, 2018
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The Black Swan – The impact of the highly improbable, is a book written by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. It is the perfect follow up to Thinking, fast and slow, as Kahneman and Taleb cross-reference each other throughout the two books.

What then, is a Black Swan? In Taleb’s words: “First, it is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility. Second, it carries an extreme impact (unlike the bird). Third, in spite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable. I stop and summarize the triplet: rarity, extreme impact, and retrospective (though not prospective) predictability.”

The Black Swans live in Extremistan, whereas most of us humans seem to believe we live our entire lives in Mediocristan: “Mediocristan is where we must endure the tyranny of the collective, the routine, the obvious, and the predicted; Extremistan is where we are subjected to the tyranny of the singular, the accidental, the unseen, and the unpredicted.”

As with Thinking, fast and slow, this is quite the read, not easy, often times mind-boggling to say the least, but greatly helped along by the dry humor inserted here and there – making it a challenging but fun read!

Taleb doesn’t seem to leave a single stone unturned, yet he is clear about the danger in pretending to know what one does not know: “My biggest problem with the educational system lies precisely in that it forces students to squeeze explanations out of subject matters and shames them for withholding judgment, for uttering the ‘I don’t know’.”

With this final book reflection of the year, a year of reaching my goal of reading one hundred books (this one!) as well as reading – and blogging about – 26 Swedish and 26 English books that I decided upon at the start of the year, I am happy to put this book reading challenge to behind me. Urged along by Taleb who writes read books are far less valuable than unread ones I will happily continue to purchase and borrow books, matching my library of read books with my antilibrary, of as yet unread books.

Seneca ended his essays with vale, often mistranslated as ‘farewell’. It has the same root as ‘value’ and ‘valor’ and means both ‘be strong (i.e., robust)’ and ‘be worthy’. Vale.”

Indeed a fitting way to end this year of lots of reading and no less than 52+ book reflections (counting the Swedish ones as well as the English):
Vale.


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2018, to read and blog about 26 Swedish and 26 English books, one book every week, books that I already own.

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Advent Calendar 7 – Loving the unknown

December 7, 2018
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Encyclopedia Helenica. This was one of the roles I took on, being the one in the know, the one who always had the knowledge and facts. Never daring to admit to not knowing, so I would even pretend I knew… as I was under the belief that my self-worth came from knowing. To say I have no clue what/whom you are talking about was not part of my vocabulary for the longest of time.

But no more.
Since 5-6 years I’ve gotten better and better at owning what I know, as well as what I don’t know. And I love not knowing, which is a big shift from absolutely fearing it before.

In not knowing – there’s a potential for learning, which is absent in knowing. To listen for that which I don’t know, rather than listening for that which confirms what I already know. Trying new things, new experiences, new flavors, new thoughts. Oh, I love it nowadays, love the unknown, am drawn to the unknown… both within as well as without myself.

Imagine what the world would look like, if humans were encouraged to look for the unknown. With curiosity. With an open mind. With playfulness.
To try. To feel. To think. To taste the unknown. Rather than to consolidate that which I (you?) already know.

Being humble enough to know that there is so much more to find out than that which I already know – and the wondrous world of discovery made possible when I stop fearing the unknown, and instead start to love it!


Advent Calendar 2018 – number 7 of 24 – on the theme of being gentle.

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Doing gentle – 18 – Stop with the mind-reading

May 15, 2016
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So here is the deal: I don’t know what you think. There’s really no way for me to know. Unless of course you tell me. But if you are silent and am not sharing your experience with me, I simply cannot know (!) what you think.

What I might be doing in such a situation, is to think (!) I know what you think. And that is really not a very good idea.

mindreaderWhat happens is, that I project my thoughts upon you. Often I think that whatever is on your mind, must be related to me, it simply cannot possibly not be related to me.

I can also project my fears onto you. If I am afraid of dogs, in a situation involving a dog, it’s commonplace that I’d make you afraid of dogs, in my imaginary world. Inside my head.

What often happens to me, when I go all mind-reader, is that I would rapidly proceed to blame you for whatever it is that I think you think. What I think you might think can even become a show-stopper for me. If I believe my thoughts, whatever it is that I think you think, I am headed down a rabbit hole and that’s simply no place for a human being. If I become really adept at this mind-reading sham I might very well use it to effectively stop myself from living full out. Because of what I think you, or others, might think.

Do you mind-read? Do you know when you do it? Can you tell? Does it serve you?

I know it doesn’t serve me. Not the way I’ve made use of it. So what if, I stopped thinking I know what you think? Perhaps I can ask instead? What might become possible then? What might I learn – about me, about you?

Welcome to my humble abode, where the underlying tone centers around being gentle to oneself. On Sundays I share thoughts on how I do gentle, and I hope you enjoy it. If you do, please subscribe to updates so you won’t miss out on future posts in this series.

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