A book review post
So here it is, first true blog post of 2013 for me. A lots happened over the course of the week, perhaps better to mull over the few books that have come my way this year.
Devdutt pattanaik’s book 7 secrets of Shivais a must read for anyone who is curious about Hindu symbolism. He wades into the symbols and brings alive Shiva, Parvati, their vehicles and children and explains what they mean to us. Myths and symbols interweave in this gem of a book – and the journey leaves you with reverence for these gods and gratitude toward this author. And if you read closely, you also pick up a few priceless tips on life and how to live successfully and be fulfilled at the same time – now, that in itself is worth a read right?
The other book I happened to read was on antifragility. This is a whopper of a book too. Quintessential Taleb, it leverages his deep understanding of probability (and tons of common sense) to peel away the noise around you – and reveals life as it is. You come away with many gems, sample this:
“Absence of evidence cannot be construed as evidence of absence”. If that’s a touch abstract sounding, here’s an example – just because we have found no side effect to a new drug (absence of evidence), we cannot state that there is no side effect at all (evidence of absence) – all it could imply is that we haven’t found any yet.
Anti fragile stuff makes you stronger when stressed – and is therefore the rightful opposite of fragility (which gets weakened by stress). This is a new idea because we generally consider “robustness” (which is ability to bear the stress) as the opposite. If this looks abstract too, think about “fasting” which makes you stronger over time (or for that matter even vaccines) – stuff which makes your body more antifragile while medicines which provide instance relief but harm the body in the long run are fragile.
Add another super insight – some volatility (stressors) actually are good for the system because they make the organism (or system) anti fragile. For example, a taxi driver (who experiences volatility of income on a day-day basis but similar earnings as his brother who is employed in a comfy job with a corporate) is more robust than his brother. The brother lives with a false sense of security (that his financial security is assured for ever) only to find himself in “BIG” trouble if (and when)his job gets terminated without notice. Loss of clients, war or other such stressors on impact the taxi driver way less (and in many cases may even improve his earnings!). Taleb reasons that Nature is antifragile and therefore recommends immense caution (or dire need) before messing with nature’s reactions (so a risky surgery is recommended only in the case of a dying patient, not for those who have a chance to recover through other means).
The book goes on – providing tons of valuable thoughts. It provides you a new set of eyes to see the world in – one that looks at fragility as it really is. Why is this important? Taleb informs us that the world is becoming more prone to “black swans” and it is only such insights that will help us navigate better.
Now I am not Devdutt, nor am I Taleb – and therefore would have embellished their thoughts for sure during the course of this narrative – apologies authors. These are “must reads” though and I would encourage you to pop over to the nearest bookshop (or order them on your kindle) and start reading…