Despite what you might hear, Fooled by Randomness is not the perfect book. But it’s damn good. In particular, we’re fond of the Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s skepticism of the way success is often attributed to skill when luck is a more plausible explanation. (And this works the other way, where business failure is blamed on corruption or lack of talent rather than luck.) If more business writers read Fooled by Randomness we might get a lot less of the type of stories asserting that, say, a hedge fund succeeded because its managers were geniuses or failed because its managers failed to provide adequate controls.
We’re actually a bit ashamed by our affection for Fooled by Randomness. After all, it’s praised by nearly everyone and joining any particularly popular club of enthusiasts grates against our fanatically contrarian souls. So we hunt around for critiques of the book, hoping someone will save us.
Gary North’s critique of Fooled, however, kind of does the opposite. He argues, more or less, that Fooled is bad because it’s doesn’t like Warren Buffett enough and likes the theory of evolution too much. You see, according to North, it is luck that makes traders rich. It’s God.
What Taleb identifies as luck, I identify as the providence of God. He is a would-be Roman skeptic of the Stoic variety. I am a Christian.