It's Hard to Predict

Monday, July 09, 2007

Predicting the future is a big business, but it's hard to do it well. Author Nassim Nicholas Taleb says that the most important and influential events are always rare and unpredictable. His new book about prediction is The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable.

The Black Swan is available for purchase at


Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Comments [4]


I think the man is brilliant and Leonard is at his best. The mp3 seems to be unfinished and mixed up with the previous segment. I hope we can get a complete podcast of this segment, I may want to listen to it every now and then .

Jul. 10 2007 01:52 PM
lawrence taub from New Jersey

I sort of agree with Mr. Taleb, though I have not read his book yet or heard the interview. A friend told me about it.

I wrote a book on this subject as well. Called The Spiritual Imperative: Sex, Age, and the Last Caste. In it I say as well that the most important and influential events are rare and unpredictable -- but not totally unpredictable.

You just need the right model, or macrohistory (grand narrative), three of which form the subject of the book: The Age Model, the Sex Model, and the Caste Model. The Caste Model especially has been good at predicting the unpredictable, since 1975. And according to the Sex Model, Hillary has an excellent chance of winning next year.

Jul. 10 2007 01:30 PM
brad from nyc

Just missed the interview with Mr. Taleb and was disappointed to find that it's also not present as an MP3 on the WNYC website.

Will it appear later or is there somewhere else I can find the interview?

The Lopate Show responds: Audio for our show is available after 5 pm each day.

Jul. 09 2007 04:39 PM
jl from nj

Working in a "think tank" styled office of a Fortune 500 CEO, alongside economists and others, we simply developed a set of parallel potential outcomes, then tried to align our actions according to as many outcomes as possible. That was the strategy.

Jul. 09 2007 03:58 PM

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