The phrase “Black Swan” (arising earlier in the different context of Popperian falsification) is here defined as an event characterized [p. xviii] by rarity, extreme impact, and retrospective (though not prospective) predictability, and Taleb’s thesis is that such events have much greater effect, in financial markets and the broader world of human affairs, than we usually suppose. The book is challenging to review because it requires considerable effort to separate the content from the style. The style is rambling and pugnacious—well described by one reviewer as “with few exceptions, the writers and professionals Taleb describes are knaves or fools, mostly fools. His writing is full of irrelevances, asides and colloquialisms, reading like the conversation of a raconteur rather than a tightly argued thesis”. And clearly this is perfectly deliberate. Such a book invites a review that reflects the reviewer’s opinions more than is customary in the Notices. My own overall reaction is that Taleb is sensible (going on prescient) in his discussion of financial markets and in some of his general philosophical thought but tends toward irrelevance or ridiculous exaggeration otherwise.
Let and be two integrable real-valued random variables and let be the quantile function of . Then if is integrable over we have
where is the a-mixing coefficient.
Proof: Set and then
note also that
which implies that
- Let be independent random variables with . Set . Then
Notice that and