Skin in the Game - Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Skin in the Game

By Nassim Nicholas Taleb

  • Release Date: 2018-02-27
  • Genre: Philosophy
Score: 4.5
From 95 Ratings

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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A bold work from the author of The Black Swan that challenges many of our long-held beliefs about risk and reward, politics and religion, finance and personal responsibility

In his most provocative and practical book yet, one of the foremost thinkers of our time redefines what it means to understand the world, succeed in a profession, contribute to a fair and just society, detect nonsense, and influence others. Citing examples ranging from Hammurabi to Seneca, Antaeus the Giant to Donald Trump, Nassim Nicholas Taleb shows how the willingness to accept one’s own risks is an essential attribute of heroes, saints, and flourishing people in all walks of life.

As always both accessible and iconoclastic, Taleb challenges long-held beliefs about the values of those who spearhead military interventions, make financial investments, and propagate religious faiths. Among his insights:

• For social justice, focus on symmetry and risk sharing. You cannot make profits and transfer the risks to others, as bankers and large corporations do. You cannot get rich without owning your own risk and paying for your own losses. Forcing skin in the game corrects this asymmetry better than thousands of laws and regulations.
• Ethical rules aren’t universal. You’re part of a group larger than you, but it’s still smaller than humanity in general.
• Minorities, not majorities, run the world. The world is not run by consensus but by stubborn minorities imposing their tastes and ethics on others.
• You can be an intellectual yet still be an idiot. “Educated philistines” have been wrong on everything from Stalinism to Iraq to low-carb diets.
• Beware of complicated solutions (that someone was paid to find). A simple barbell can build muscle better than expensive new machines.
• True religion is commitment, not just faith. How much you believe in something is manifested only by what you’re willing to risk for it.

The phrase “skin in the game” is one we have often heard but rarely stopped to truly dissect. It is the backbone of risk management, but it’s also an astonishingly rich worldview that, as Taleb shows in this book, applies to all aspects of our lives. As Taleb says, “The symmetry of skin in the game is a simple rule that’s necessary for fairness and justice, and the ultimate BS-buster,” and “Never trust anyone who doesn’t have skin in the game. Without it, fools and crooks will benefit, and their mistakes will never come back to haunt them.”


  • Solid.

    By Eric Seneca Kim
    Taleb is one of the only modern philosophers worth reading. Love his thinking, and all the reads are deep, profound, and fun to read. A worthy addition to the INCERTO
  • Brilliant and to the point

    By Assfacedcorn
    Great work as always by a no BS author. A must read for anyone that considers themselves successful or hopes to be one day.
  • This might be among the worst types of books

    By tomhobbes
    This is a book by someone that doesn’t write as well as he thinks he does, about ideas he holds dear without justification beyond ill-fitting anecdotes. A book about a cliche, poorly argued and even more poorly written, I’m sorry to say.
  • I have no skin in this review. :)

    By Creetownman
    This books is worth reading, if for no other reason than exposing policy makers and others for what they are: unaffected meddlers. In the latter part of the book, I found some of the arguments labored to the point of perhaps being poorly written and confusing. A sentence I need to read four times to comprehend seems to me to be poorly written. While that did not occur in the first several chapters, later on I found myself rereading sentences too frequently. Perhaps the author’s didactic approach to his arguments fly wore me down. Should you read this book? Yes, it’s an interesting treatment of risks and reality that extends the author’s prior ideas. I learned a lot, and the concepts made me stop, and think (rethink?). In my opinion, that’s what a good book should do. But then, other than the purchase, I have no skin in the game.