In this volume Daniel Kahneman and the late Amos Tversky gathered together 35 authoritative papers that demonstrate through well-designed experiments and through observation the hard-wired biases and heuristics that influence (or define) the way humans go about making choices when the outcomes are from certain.
There are a raft of biases, and just one example is the Anchoring Effect. If you asked 100 people to guess the population of Turkey, what you'd probably get is a wide range of answers. If you broke the question into two parts: first by asking whether the population is higher or lower than 14 million - and then by asking the respondents to guess the population - you'd find that the answers would gravitate around our arbitrary 14 million mark.
The Heuristics we use to weigh up and evaluate data provide a second family of biases. Here, the human brain is shown to go about problem evaluation along certain pathways and shortcuts, and the route we take tends to define where we'll emerge. By way of example, we tend to give undue weight to highly retrievable or available data: and treat this as representative. So in the wake of Katrina, you or I would be fairly excused for judging 2005 as a particularly bad year for global weather-related disasters. In probability, 2005 was not particularly unusual on a global scale.
This volume is an important collection of papers, with relevance to anyone working in fields where decision-making is at the core. You might be in market research, medicine, social sciences, economics or other fields: this book contains material of direct relevance to your work. The conclusions from the papers range from disturbing (the judgments of professional medical and psychological experts, we see, can be alarmingly biased!) through to illuminating.
Just as gamblers feel sure that after throwing six heads in a row, the coin is "overdue" to throw tails (as if coins have a memory) even professionals have an amazing propensity to run roughshod over their own understanding of probability.
This book makes for serious reading and delivers good value. It makes an absorbing, more focused twin-volume with CHOICES, VALUES & FRAMES which I'd say, however, is a more important book that encompasses much of the thinking here. I've take a star off here because some papers are written not in plain English but rather in densely mathematical language. I work in statistics, but our English language is quite adequate for the task of telling the story, isn't it? For this reason readers of this volume will appreciate the incredibly readable, yet hugely informative, volume "The Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making" by Scott Plous. I refer frequently to both these volumes and find both extremely useful.