Found in 11 comments on Hacker News
reizenikker · 2012-04-20 · Original thread
Hi, Salvatore, Read this book, Nassim discover and explore for most of people the true meaning of randomness, and actually he show useless of "Mathematical true randomness" in real life. Highly recommend this book. And Yep, u are absolutely right, the random effect, is totally depends on how to look at it.
azulum · 2011-09-13 · Original thread
in aggregate, i would say that everything in this study is on point. but there is a caveat—in aggregate. just as there is human variation in size, strength, appearance, so is there variation in intelligence, endurance and work ethic. try as i might, i will never be able to function well deprived of sleep, but my dad is a different story (he's 60, been through chemo, has migraines all the time and can still work longer than me—it's quite infuriating). the point is that all statistical methods which discount outliers, and productivity in aggregate would adhere to the gaussian bell curve†—the so-called normal distribution which by definition discounts outliers, will not show the work of the exceptional ones, whether they exist or not. given my own experience with my old man, i would say

1) it depends on the work 2) it depends on the type of production 3) it depends on the person 4) it depends on the time scale

i believe that those who think they are superhuman are mostly wrong, but some of them are right. wasn't it kahneman and tversky who measured confidence and for people over-estimated their skills? i'm pretty sure 95% of swedes believe that they are better than average in sweden (read taleb's the black swan#). and then there is the Dunning-Kruger effect^ which describes the underestimation of skills by the skilled and the overestimation of skills by the unskilled, the n00bs as it were. so i consider self-selection specious. i want to see a measure of the guys who didn't toot their own horn, or more appropriately, those recognized by their peers as being exceptional.

† production on long time scales does not fit to the bell curve because it can be 'bumpy', but normalized for innovation it should



helwr · 2010-09-12 · Original thread
Well, there are some related topics on Quora: and

You can actually ask your question there as well in case this question gets unnoticed on HN; Quora people are very smart and pretty responsive

see, and do a search for Random Processes or Stochastic Processes on Amazon bookstore

Read about Entropy: A good book on Information theory can help you put it in context:

Check out GMP

If you're philosophically inclined read some existentialists, they deal a lot with irrationality and chaos:

If you're financially inclined read Random Walk Down Wall Street: and the Black Swan: you may want to check out his other book as well, it is rather non-technical:

To learn more on how Wall Street deals with the stock market randomness read some books on Time Series analysis and forecasting, e.g the classic

If you are a data scientist in heart read this great Q&A thread:

I wish I could help you with a link to a clear non-technical introductory article but this is all I've got. As random as it gets:)

Probably some good introductory book on science will fit the bill, science after all deals primarily with randomness. You may want to check out

mburnett · 2009-04-16 · Original thread
An interesting viewpoint on what it takes to "predict" such influential events (including the adoption of a particular product/service) is the black swan theory. Nassim Nicholas Taleb seems to be very closely associated with it.

Basically, Taleb says the event must be:

1. Quite difficult to predict

2. Have an significant impact

3. Be able to be explained rationally, after the fact

Examples include September 11th attacks, the personal computer, Google and others.


Read more about at your desired level of interest:






Note: I found the writing style of the author to be a little quirky. You may want to read a sample chapter at local bookstore before going all in.

giardini · 2008-07-18 · Original thread
Leading to more herding and informational cascades ( wherein individuals cease to follow their own thoughts and instead rush to verify what they have heard through (in this case) the academic grapevine.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb also addresses this topic in some depth in his book "The black Swan" (

giardini · 2008-07-13 · Original thread
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of [The Black Swan]( suggests not listening to men who wears ties, especially when they are making predictions about the future.

The fellow's predictions in the past have missed the big events: don't bother trusting his newest predictions.

nir · 2008-05-27 · Original thread
Well, if it works it's a great model...

A "sell the company" business model is like becoming an actor with a mind of becoming rich like Tom Cruise. No doubt some people who do it will find some success, but by definition this is something that (a) works only for a small number of people (the world needs a limited number of movie stars, Google & Co acquire a limited number of companies) and (b) contains a large element of luck - many actors have comparable talent & looks, many companies can (and a few already have) build a Twitter-like product.

The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb is a great book about the randomness in our lives:

jakewolf · 2008-03-17 · Original thread
Read Taleb's book, "The Black Swan." Very timely these days.

akkartik · 2008-01-19 · Original thread
Didn't the black swan refer to Kahnemann? Drat, I've lent out my copy.

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