Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Translated books - blessing or cursing?

Nassim Taleb is quite known guy mostly thanks to his Black Swan theory and his book The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, which made a lot of noise.

The book was from my "should" list and finally it was its turn to be read. Since it is something what we call "popular science" rather than "science" or "technical literature" I've decided to read it in translation and that decision led me to significant time waste.

The book appeared to be a set of trivial thoughts about applicability of probability theory and statistics and some strange statements, which actually did not make any sense to me. But then I've decided to look at original text and you know things are slightly different there.

So I restarted reading the English version of it and I do not know if I change my mind after that but so far I've got yet another evidence of the old known principles:

  1. Never read translation if you can read original text.
  2. Never judge based on translation (or interpretation)
  3. Never trust ballyhoo
And yes, most likely I will post my thoughts about the book after I finish reading it.

PS Funny statement from the book:
Note that, by symmetry, the occurrence of a highly improbable event is the equivalent of the nonoccurrence of a highly probable one.
Interesting, what kind of symmetry he is referring to... :)

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