A culture who won’t say “I don’t know”

"Read books are far less valuable than unread ones."

Nassim N Taleb, author of Fooled By Randomness and The Black Swan, has thoughtful commentary about the human condition and our tendency to say we know things we don't, to summarize in generic terms concepts we have little information about and are far more complicated, and to hold knowledge highly when in fact it is worth less than we believe.
In fact, his thesis is to show us that what we do not know is most important of all; the whole timeline of historic events, he presents, is focused on large, unexpected events dubbed "Black Swans." Should we have expected events like September 11th and already instituted precautionary measures for such a scenario, the entire attack would not have transpired. The people who implemented such securities would have been heroes but would have gone entirely unnoticed because the date 09/11 would thus carry no weight and life would simply be "normal" for all those attached to NYC to this day. Instead we assign the title of 'hero' to anyone who happened to respond to this very unexpected event, who did indeed provide brave help. It is the direction of our knowledge and our overconfidence that Taleb is concerned with, and perhaps rightly so.
Because the unknown guides so much of our world, statistics, trends, and generalizations can only be used to describe what is "normal," but talking about what is "normal" never really got us anywhere. Taleb even challenges individuals who regress to small talk about what is known, repetitive, and already comfortable, rather than the extreme events that surely dominate life. He claims a large beast in our society is the drive to focus on what makes sense, and as much as science, technology, and business want individualism and success to flourish with efficiency, "we lack imagination and repress it in others.

That's about as simply as a "book review" as I can give in a couple paragraphs, especially since I'm only through the prologue.  I do not claim, Mr. Taleb, to know more about your book than I do currently; only a brief interlude to a new way to think without taking myself or my knowledge too seriously, the way some philosophers, economists, and salesmen do, not acknowledging what they still do not know and how they might benefit from a library full of unread books.

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