More Aphorisms by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Back in 2010, I blogged about The Bed of Procrustes: Practical and Philosophical Aphorisms by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan and Fooled by Randomness. Serendipitous aphorism discoverer Dave Lull recently sent word of new aphorisms by this philosopher of financial markets, which are as ornery as Schopenhauer before his first cup of coffee in the morning. These maxims are aimed squarely at the 1%

Never take investment advice from someone who has to work for a living.

Never get into a business partnership with a retired lawyer unless he has another hobby.

and are almost invariably written as blunt declarative commands (to wit, both of the above aphorisms begin with the word ‘never’ and have an unmistakable tone of scorn and infallibility). But a deep vein of morality, even moralism, runs through them, too, offering a cold, hard look at the human soul’s quarterly performance.

Most mistakes get worse when you try to correct them.

Never rid anyone of an illusion unless you can replace it in his mind with another illusion.

You can almost certainly extract a “yes” from someone who says “no” to you, never from someone who says nothing.

It is a sign of weakness to avoid showing signs of weakness.

Never trust a journalist unless she’s your mother.

You will never know if someone is an asshole until he becomes rich.

The only problem with the last laugh is that the winner has to laugh alone.

We often benefit from harm done to us by others; almost never from self-inflicted injuries.

Real life (vita beata) is when your choices correspond to your duties.

There is this prevailing illusion that debt is a renewable resource.

The only people who think that real world experience doesn’t matters are those who never had real world experience.

Much of the difference between what is heaven and what is hell is branding.

Contra the prevailing belief, “success” isn’t being on top of a hierarchy, it is standing outside all hierarchies.