Tuesday, 20 October 2009

The Black Swan: Umberto Eco's Untilibrary, or How We Seek Validation

I like the title of this section of the book. An antilibrary is a library full of unread books or in which there are more unread books than read books.

If you want to know what Part One is about, read the next paragraph:

The chapters in this section address the question of how we humans deal with knowledge -and our preference for the anecdotal over the empirical. Chapter 1 present the Black Swan as grounded in the story of my own obssesion. I will make a central distinction between the two varieties of randomness in Chapter 3. After that, Chapter 4 briefly return to the Black Swan problem: a) The error of confirmation, or how we are likely to undeservedly scorn the virgin part of the library (the tendency to look at what confirms our knowledge, not our ignorance), in Chapter 5; b) the narrative fallacy, or how we fool ourselves with stories and anecdotes (Chapter 6); c) how emotions get in the way of our inference (Chapter 7); and d) the problem of silent evidence, or the tricks history uses to hide the Black Swans from us (Chapter 8). Chapter 9 discusses the lethal fallacyof building knowledge from the world of games.

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