• Skin in the Game

  • Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life
  • By: Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  • Narrated by: Joe Ochman
  • Length: 8 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Release date: 02-27-18
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Random House Audio
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars 4.4 (400 ratings)

Regular price: $28.00

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Publisher's Summary

From the New York Times best-selling author of The Black Swan, a bold new work that challenges many of our long-held beliefs about risk and reward, politics and religion, finance and personal responsibility. 
In his most provocative and practical book yet, one of the foremost thinkers of our time redefines what it means to understand the world, succeed in a profession, contribute to a fair and just society, detect nonsense, and influence others. Citing examples ranging from Hammurabi to Seneca, Antaeus the Giant to Donald Trump, Nassim Nicholas Taleb shows how the willingness to accept one's own risks is an essential attribute of heroes, saints, and flourishing people in all walks of life. 
As always both accessible and iconoclastic, Taleb challenges long-held beliefs about the values of those who spearhead military interventions, make financial investments, and propagate religious faiths. Among his insights: 

For social justice, focus on symmetry and risk sharing. You cannot make profits and transfer the risks to others, as bankers and large corporations do. You cannot get rich without owning your own risk and paying for your own losses. Forcing skin in the game corrects this asymmetry better than thousands of laws and regulations. 
Ethical rules aren't universal. You're part of a group larger than you, but it's still smaller than humanity in general. 
Minorities, not majorities, run the world. The world is not run by consensus but by stubborn minorities asymmetrically imposing their tastes and ethics on others. 
You can be an intellectual yet still be an idiot. "Educated philistines" have been wrong on everything from Stalinism to Iraq to low carb diets. 
Beware of complicated solutions (that someone was paid to find). A simple barbell can build muscle better than expensive new machines. 
The phrase "skin in the game" is one we have often heard but have rarely stopped to truly dissect. It is the backbone of risk management, but it's also an astonishingly complex worldview that, as Taleb shows in this book, applies to all aspects of our lives. As Taleb says, "The symmetry of skin in the game is a simple rule that's necessary for fairness and justice and the ultimate BS-buster," and "Never trust anyone who doesn't have skin in the game. Without it, fools and crooks will benefit, and their mistakes will never come back to haunt them." 
©2018 Nassim Nicholas Taleb (P)2018 Random House Audio
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Jeremy Teeter on 03-03-18

The expansion pack to Antifragile

If you've never read Taleb before, pass on this book for now and go read Fooled by Randomness or The Black Swan. This book, while fascinating to long time Taleb fans, is more preaching to the choir, and so he skips a lot of he lead up and background discussions that had been part of the backbone of his other books. I valued the discussion of minority rule and the concept of an absorbing barrier applied to financial ruin, and the authors use of unreliable narratives was entertaining as always. That said, the ideas in this book are minor points compared to his other works, and I found myself wishing he had waited another year or two to continue fleshing out the ideas in this book to allow it to be up to the same standards of his other works.

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11 of 11 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Scott H on 03-02-18

Taleb's snobbery and condescension @ all time high

For someone who rails against critics breaking his principle of charity in not using straw man arguments against his main points, he sure does it himself an awful lot. For example, he uses Richard Thaler's self deprecating story about enjoying a tie his wife bought him when he wouldn't have bought it himself as proof of what an idiot Thaler is. Thaler feels this mental accounting is irrational and Taleb does not. I'm inclined to lean toward what I take to be Taleb's argument that the term 'irrational' is overplayed and does not really describe what is happening in a lot of the behavioral economics studies but to just dismiss the whole field as bunk goes much too far. That is where his ideas about heuristics that he uses to criticize Richard Dawkins come from after all. I bet Dawkins would even concede the point that an outfielder is using heuristics rather than subconsciously doing differential equations to anticipate where to go as he originally wrote decades ago.

Taleb makes some good points but he always overplays his hand and portrays himself and a very small handful of his heroes who 'have skin in the game' as the only people in the world who have contributed anything worthwhile.

Some of the things I liked:
-His points about vocal minorites having large impact on public policy or commerce e.g., kosher foods, non-gmo foods, smoking in restaurants.
-Don't tell me what you think, tell me what's in your portfolio. All that really matters is our actions- not our opinions.

I would give this another star but I'm so turned off by his self aggrandizement and unwarranted dismissal of every scientist, school teacher, public servant, and 9-5 employee that I can't do it.

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44 of 53 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Tim on 03-05-18

Another great work by Teleb

If you've read anything else by Teleb, you won't be disappointed with Skin in the Game. Another thoughtful rant covering many fields and subjects. If you haven't read anything by him before... I would suggest reading fooled by randomness first, but that's just personal preference, his books can be read in any order. I can't recommend them highly enough. They prove what the majority of people believe about risk, probability and indeed life, is wrong.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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