Review of Skin in the Game

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  • Controversial
  • Eye Opening
  • Concrete Examples


Essayist and scholar Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s hilarious, merciless and eye-opening book will make you think, even though he showcases his disdain for just about every institution and educated person. Devoted conservatives and anyone who rails against the establishment might enjoy this most, but all those who heed Taleb’s advice to consider what he means, and not at what he writes, will be intrigued. His message: Do things you believe in deeply and stick your neck out for them. But if you have no skin in the game, keep quiet.

About the Author

Nassim Nicholas Taleb is also the author of The Black Swan, Antifragile and Fooled by Randomness among other books.


Honesty requires skin in the game – a stake not limited to incentives or upside gains because it must include the potential for loss. 

Beware of pundits, politicians and member of the intelligentsia, Taleb warns, cautioning you against those who earn their living making or influencing bad decisions. Since they face no personal risk, the author asserts, they make lazy choices and often don’t think through the consequences. Thus, highly educated pundits fail to see what’s obvious to the peasant on the ground, because they don’t care as much. Pundits may not suffer or may face only mild consequences for giving bad advice, while the peasant loses everything.

This is the core of Taleb’s thesis: those who pay the cost for choices usually understand the situation best. He writes, “The symmetry of skin in the game is a simple rule that’s necessary for fairness and justice.” People too often stand on principle when others have skin in the game, and they don’t. For instance, politicians and policymakers fail to make the right decisions because they have no skin in the game.

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