Abdul Montaqim

Quicklet on Nassim Taleb's Fooled by Randomness (CliffNotes-like Summary)

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When I was in school I considered a career in finance. Or to be more embarrassingly precise, I considered becoming an accountant.

I chose the appropriate subjects and got myself onto a business degree course. I was still only 19 and you could say I was following a non-random course towards my career objective.

But then, just months before I was supposed to start my degree course, in what might be considered random events, I became involved in newspapers and learned skills such as writing and page layout. I decided against the degree course. I managed to get some money together to launch my own publication. And I’ve been in the media ever since.

I feel lucky that the circumstances that I found myself in at that time have resulted in a relatively long and moderately successful career in journalism, but I can’t help thinking that none of it was planned and, therefore, on one level, it was random.

I’m not sure Nassim Taleb, author of Fooled by Randomness, would agree with me, however. In fact, even if Taleb spent a wrote book explaining his thoughts on the matter, I’m not sure that I’d completely understand it—such is the depth to which he analyses events and the complexity of his theories about said events.


Abdul Montaqim is a journalist, based in London, and has been working in the media since 1989. Among the more well known titles he has written for are The Guardian newspaper, Time Out magazine and the International Business Times website.

He has edited a number of local and community newspapers, magazines and websites, and has, over the course of his career, worked for some of the largest publishers in Europe, including Emap, LLP and Mirror Group Newspapers.

Abdul has also worked outside of the United Kingdom, moving to Abu Dhabi for a year to work on the first national daily newspaper in United Arab Emirates, The National; and he has consulted for media companies in Bangladesh, where he was born.

Abdul briefly worked for a New York-headquartered cable television channel called AsiaNet as a news editor, and realised that although he loves researching, writing and other “technical” parts of a journalist's job, he does not like presenting, preferring to be behind the camera or back in the studio.

He also realised that, although reporting a story through the medium of television is obviously different from telling it through a newspaper or magazine, the heart and mind of every media company is researching and writing.

In his spare time, Abdul likes to spend time with his family, cooking, eating, watching films, listening to music, reading and writing. When he goes out he likes to watch movies at the best cinemas, see live music performances, and eat at good restaurants. He also loves gardening, fishing and going for long walks.


Taleb touches on Darwin’s theory of evolution. He does not share the widely held view that Darwinism can be applied to the business world. Meaning that he doesn’t believe that the strongest companies will survive and the weakest will become extinct. “Things are not as simple as that,” he writes.

The problem, he explains, comes from randomness. “Once randomness is injected into a system… what seems to be an evolution may be merely a diversion, and possibly regression…”

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