Books Worth Re-reading



Taleb describes that anything is antifragile as it gets better with chaos and disorder and improves with time whereas anything antifragile hates volatility. He lays out extremely convincing arguments for doing away with most predictions and trying to forecast into the future as this in reality handicaps us and doesn’t allow us to react to what is truly happening. His arguments are can and should be molded into every facet of your life and your decisions

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  Key Takeaways  

  1. Anything that has more upside than downside during random events has antifragility
  2. Suppressing randomness from antifragile things (ourselves are one of the most antifragile things) actually harms them and makes them weaker. The diet, our economy are antifragile but we have been making them weaker
  3. Fragility and antifragility can be measured but rare events cannot be predicted accurately
  4. Should focus on the fragility of things instead of the probability of something happening. Things lie on a scale of fragility (the triad – antifragile, robust and fragile)
  5. Moving towards simplicity and removing things makes things more antifragile than adding anything 
  6. Absence of challenge degrades the best people and firms. Mental and physical effort forces people into a higher gear
  7. Evolution one of the best examples of antifragility as it loves randomness and volatility and gets stronger from it. Natural things love randomness up to a point – if all life on earth wiped out the fittest will not survive to reproduce
  8. Central illusion in life – randomness is risky. Man made smoothing of randomness makes things more fragile. Daily variability helps strengthen a person or system 
  9. Extremely important to try to differentiate between true and manufactured stability
  10. Much more difficult to examine people who have been successful by procrastinating or non acting as it is not obvious or apparent as that is what caused their success
  11. Believes that in eliminating projections which are almost never right will make us and our economy more robust. What is not measurable and non predictable will remain that way. Let’s not kid ourselves and make us more exposed than we already are
  12. Turkey problem – mistaking what we don’t see for the nonexistent
  13. Exposure more important than knowledge. Do, rather than just learn
  14. Time is the worlds best debunker of fragility 
  15. Small occurrences and events effect us much less than a large event does. For example, a 10 lb thrown at your head would do more than 5x the damage of a 2 lb stone thrown at your head. That which is fragile is hurt much more by extreme events than by a succession of small ones
  16. Barbell – medium risks are still exposed to massive volatility. Better to be at either end (completely anti black swan or for black swan) than stuck in the middle. Don’t do things in the middle – pure action or pure reflection. Barbell method is the domestication not the elimination of risk
  17. You are antifragile when you have more to gain than lose from volatility – more upside than downside. First decrease your exposure to downside
  18. When have optionality, do not need to understand something perfectly and can make good decisions with less information. Can still limit downside and have upside. Having options helps us understand ourselves as we are forced to decide
  19. Tinkering and iterations are much more antifragile than blueprints and hard plans. This allows for more optionality and better decisions since will have better information
  20. When you find antifragile options, there are hidden benefits and therefore need to be right less often compared to linear payoffs to still wind up on top
  21. Avoiding mistakes and being a sucker is quickest way to become antifragile. We know much more of what is wrong than what is right (negative knowledge). Disconfirmation much more rigid than confirmation
  22. Robust decisions rarely require more than one good reason. The man with the most alibis is usually guilty. In addition, a man should be known for one great idea
  23. The longest surviving works are the most robust as time devours everything, the fragile first
  24. Longer term forecast are most prone to error and exponentially so compared to short term. Any reliance on predictions is fragile. Respect and consume the wisdom of our ancestors – philosophy, food, tools, etc.
  25. Perishable v nonperishable – for perishable, younger expected to live longer but for non the older can be expected to lived longer. Established tech more likely to outlive new tech
  26. There is logic in nature much deeper than we can often understand 
  27. Even if there is solid evidence (lose fat if limit carbs), People often don’t act until there are theories they believe. Should be the opposite, if solid evidence, should act regardless of theory as they change all the time
  28. Via negativa – Subtracting things not seasoned by nature reduces the chances of black swans while leaving one open to improvements. For example, eating less extends lives and avoiding new foods and sugars
  29. He argues against buying things with huge marketing budgets as most high quality things do not require it (eggs, meat, art, museums, etc .)

  What I got out of it  

  1. An thoroughly thought-provoking book which makes you very aware how fragile many systems and institutions truly are. The most powerful part of this book is understanding that this mental model can be integrated into every single part of your life – from diet to work to investing to relationships, etc. An absolute must read

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