It has been awhile since I read a book more fascinating than Nassim Nicholas Taleb's The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable.
Taleb forces his readers to face hard facts about how we generally play fast and loose with the truth of things.
A stock trader turned empirical philosopher, Taleb is concerned that we understand that no one really knows what is happening or will happen next in our world. We are set up for the "Black Swans" of life--the highly improbable, but high impact truth, development or event that will define life for many of us going forward.
Lots to consider in this slow read!
Here's a sample related to our tendency to confuse important questions about the world we live in and how to navigate it:
Many people confuse the statement "almost all terrorists are Moslems" with "almost all Moslems are terrorists." Assume that the first statement is true, that 99 percent of terrorists are Moslems. This would mean that only about .001 percent of Moslems are terrorists, since there are more than one billion Moslems and only, say, ten thousand terrorists, one in a hundred thousand. So the logical mistake makes you (unconsciously) overestimate the odds of a randomly drawn individual Moslem person (between the age of, say, fifteen and fifty) being a terrorist by close to fifty thousand times!
The reader might see in this round-trip fallacy the unfairness of stereotypes--minorities in urban areas in the United States have suffered from the same confusion: even if most criminals come from their ethnic subgroup, most of their ethnic subgroup are not criminals, but they still suffer from discrimination by people who should know better. (page 52)
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