Good But Not Great
There was a bit less to this book than I had hoped. It's a potpourri of observations Taleb has made and things he has read. Much of it is second hand or obvious to a mathematician. I knew most of it already from my own reading or from what I've worked out myself, but there was enough left to make it a good read. For example I had never noticed that CEOs make a few large, unrepeatable decisions, so it's hard to tell whether they're doing any good whatever, whereas people lower down in the hierarchy are judged on many more repetitive decisions, so only survive if they are genuinely valuable.
A low point comes when Taleb discusses Karl Popper's ideas on falsifiability "Indeed the difference between Newtonian physics, which was falsified by Einstein's relativity, and astrology lies in the following irony. Newtonian physics is scientific because it allowed us to falsify it, as we know that it is wrong, while astrology is not because it does not offer conditions under which we could reject it." Imitating Taleb's notorious rudeness, I'd call that an MBA's version of the situation. One theory can't be falsified by another theory! Newton's theory of gravitation was falsified because it didn't agree with observations, in particular of the precession of Mercury. Having said that, Newton's theory of gravity is superb and we still use it in most cases as the calculations are far easier and the results spot on for most purposes, so I object to anyone simply referring to it, or Newtonian physics in general, as "wrong".
Taleb makes a characteristic and very interesting observation that even people who perfectly understand the mathematics behind probability then go and ignore their learning in their actions (he gives examples). Other, supposedly brilliant, traders fail to understand that they are not dealing with Gaussian processes. They succeed marvellously for years before "blowing up". This combination of understanding both theory and what actually happens is one of Taleb's great strengths.