Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Fooled by Randomness

I am reading a book by Nicolas Taleb called 'Fooled by Randomness'. An interesting book which seems to imply the success we may have is NOT due to our skills but actually due to our luck. Everything is random and the media only highlights the success stories rather than the more numerous failures. So applying to my condition would seem to indicate that I am actually overestimating my skills and abilities. I guess this should all the more drive you to improve or increase your skills. To sharpen the saw or to increase one's capacity so to speak. An interesting book that keeps you thinking.

One of the main theme of the book is to place value on introspection. This allows you to shift the noise from the really valuable message or signal. The author is a trader so he knows what he speaks and he generally give some interesting stories on the stock market. A good book to read and companion to George Soros books. Both authors are highly educated and inclined towards philosophy. Both writers I think wanted to be a philosopher but ended up being successful traders.
Applying to my situation, it would seem that my sometime misfortunes at work with the boss man is not really due to my inadequate abilities. But more on my luck. So I have just reached a bad phase in my life which was due to come anyway due perhaps to 'law of averages'. Nevertheless, these outcomes help us become more humble and show us our shortcomings or our fallibility. So one should just move forward and not think about one's failures as it is not really a failure but of poor luck as specific circumstances arose (whether political in nature) which resulted in the unfortunate outcome for me.
This maybe more a problem of cognition where we make errors of thinking. Perhaps in induction as described in the book. The present day with the explosion in information, noise prevents us from learning the true lesson. Perhaps tools like visual thinking helps us shift through the noise. I attach a map on investing which summarizes my (meager) understanding so far on the market.

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