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VINE VOICEon 22 April 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I found the book to be too verbose, trying too hard to convince me of the points being made. I also found many of the examples designed to give authenticity failed because they relied too much on knowing things about the USA.

The basic premise is that we suffer from irrationality, don't realise it and should work harder on that. Clearly I'd be in a minority if I disagreed and I don't.

For me, all done much better and before by Stuart Sutherland in Irrationality
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a marvellous book. I'd hesitate to go quite so far as Nassim Taleb, author of The Black Swan and Fooled by Randomness, who is quoted on the dust cover as saying, 'In the same league as The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith and The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud'. Well, maybe not quite in that league, but only because this work is the continuation of many strands of thought in psychology rather than an epoch-changing , intellectual bombshell. The ideas in this book are already, however, changing the ways in which all of us think about the way that we think (if that makes sense) and many of those strands of thought (sorry) were in any case started by Kahneman himself with his earlier collaborator, Amos Tversky, who died in 1996. Kahneman writes, selflessly and touchingly, about his fourteen years working with Tversky: `Our collaboration was the focus of our lives, and the work we did together during those years was the best either of us ever did.' Maybe Taleb is right, and in fifty years' time Kahneman and Tversky will be even more famous than they are now, and people will be asking, `Sigmund Who?' It could happen.

There are two kinds of thinking, says Kahneman, slow thinking (like doing hard mental arithmetic) and fast thinking, which happens so quickly that we don't even notice. Slow thinking takes a lot of brain energy. Our pupils dilate, revealing the increased energy that is required for such difficult mental tasks. Because our available mental energy is limited, when we are working on such `slow-thinking' mental tasks, we will be unable to take on other mental tasks and may fail even to perceive apparently obvious things: there is a strict limit to how much attention our brain can deliver at any one time.

As a result, we make most of our decisions the easy way, as in, `This seemed to work before, let's try this route again'- what psychologists call `heuristics' and what we tend to call `rules of thumb'. Our brains, not surprisingly, follow the `law of least effort'. If there is a quick route to a solution, we will take it. We hardly even notice that we have taken the quick route: our brains have the capacity to challenge any such `quick' solution but, in general - guess what? - we let it go. The problem, says Kahneman, is that our `quick thinking' is subject to a disturbingly large number of `systematic biases and errors.' Kahneman goes on to investigate an alarming number of these systematic errors and biases, of which only one is the `anchoring' effect: our decisions are affected, for example, by a number of which we have recently been made aware. `If you are asked whether Ghandi was more than 114 year old when he died you will end up with a much higher estimate of his age at death than you would if the anchoring question referred to death at 35.' In the same way, your idea of how much you should pay for a house is influenced by the asking price - even if you want to believe that it wasn't.

Our decisions can also be 'primed' by what has recently come to our attention. This leads to some relatively obvious effects - we are more likely to vote for legislation in favour of school funding if the polling station is in a school; and some far stranger effects - students exposed to a number of words related to old age walk more slowly after the exposure than groups exposed to other words. They do not report that they were aware that the words had a common theme (old age) and they are not concious of the change to their behaviour (walking more slowly).

'Substitution' causes us to answer an easier question ('How do I feel about this') rather than a harder question (What do I think about this?). 'Availability' causes us to overestimate the effect of more dramatic events, because they are more 'front of mind'. The list goes on . . .

The book offers a wealth of other compelling examples of the ways in which our `fast thinking' is prone to error, all clearly suggested by the results from a number of elegant experiments. If you don't agree with Kahneman's conclusions, devise your own experiments and test the results: this is science, not metaphysics.

Thinking Fast and Slow may (perhaps) be less famous than The Wealth of Nations or The Interpretation of Dreams in fifty years' time, but it's a lot more readable than the former and a lot more scientific than the latter. And it will change your life - or at least how you feel about the reliability and robustness of our decision-making.
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on 29 August 2012
What a piece of work this is! Love, devotion, insight into the human mind and how it works and a compassion for the pressures endured by us all in our daily lives; it is all there for us lesser mortals to come to grips with the follies and foibles of our decision making processes. It also takes into account our natural laziness, which I must hold my hands up and say, yes; mea culpa, usually to my own detriment.

Thanks again Amazon.
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on 16 August 2013
This was a deep meaningful book - best holiday read but one I still dip in and out of after the first read. Really interesting and thought provoking. Changed my perception on certain aspects of life - inspiring. A friend was recently going through a tough time so I ordered a copy for her too. Would highly recommend. Probably the best book I have read in years, if you like this type of thing!
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TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 22 September 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
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Although this book is born out of academic work, I do not believe that is work is `highbrow'; there are some terms that a lay person may struggle over, that said with a little internet research this is a book can understood. I believe that is book is a must read for everyone and not just people who are work with the concepts covered in this book.

I believe that the examples and theories placed within will help one improve their understanding of themselves and others. A book that is a good resource for anyone involved in analysing information, negotiating and making critical decisions. Some reviewers have been critical of contents as presented and in part by `perceived' bias of the author making the data speak, and interoperate the data to support the concepts that are presented. My view is that the reader should judge, merits or not for themselves.
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VINE VOICEon 21 September 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Other reviews here more than cover the content of this book but I want to review it anyway, mainly to offer a cautionary tale about not judging a book on the basis of disliking... other books. Because I was initially highly wary about this book, mistaking it for one of these pop science/social psychology-types which have become so successful in the last decade. I'm talking about books like Nudge or the Freakonomics series or those by Malcolm Gladwell (e.g. Blink), Nassim Nicholas Taleb (e.g. The Black Swan), Tim Harford (as the Undercover Economist) etc... all very loosely akin insofar as, despite having substantive statistical contents, they apply their own (seemingly dry discipline) to everyday situations and offer quirky `behaviouralist' ways of understanding the world. They seem to have arrived at a shared formula for making maths palatable to the general reader. Indeed their readability has led to their adoption by corporate culture and a rather odd state of affairs whereby `economics' books have become airport reading. Not a problem itself but in order to make the technical accessible, many of these authors have traded off scientific rigour in favour of readability. In sacrificing the maths, a certain degree of imprecision has been accepted as OK (see for example the lamentable (non)coverage of regression analysis in Freakonomics). Whereas I don't think it's OK. So I pretty much wrote-off `Thinking, Fast and Slow' when I saw the endorsements by Levitt (Freakonomics), Thaler (Nudge) et al on the cover. But I was wrong to do so. First, Kahneman knows his apples. Unlike Gladwell, he's won the Nobel Prize (in economics, despite being a psychologist). Second, much like Leonard Mlodinow (see `The Drunkard's Walk' for a stats equiv.), Kahmenn is a translator of behavioural economics into English but he doesn't jettison scientific rigour in so doing. He trusts the reader's intellect sufficiently to actually show you the correlation coefficients AND spin a good yarn. The chapters here all are short, beautifully clearly written, and none requires any special learning... but some are borderline taxing. But rather than detracting from the experience, my thinking is that this makes for greater intellectual satisfaction for the reader.
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on 13 January 2014
Stimulating read. Having heard the author speak, I'm duly impressed by his writings. A sensitive view of the human condition.
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on 25 January 2012
I dont normally write reviews but felt I should with this book.

Im probably your average reader - an interest in psychology and to some degree, self help/improvement publications.

I have done a fair bit of academic reading, so understand the difference between an academic style of writing and a book for 'the masses'. This is where I think the book falls down. Some chapters of the book really are extremely well worded and presented to the reader - concepts are clear and not unnecessarily complicated. Other chapters lapse into a pseudo-academic style which I found tedious and tiresome. I don't really need all the statistical data and complicated information behind the proposals Kahneman makes - I want him to package it up into a readable format which dose not require me to read it three times to 'get' what he means. It really is as though someone else wrote parts of the book, as its style does seem to change significantly in places.

So, some sections are quite brilliant and inspirational, worthy of 6 starts from me....but other chapters mar the reading experience, making it quite a chore. A mixed bag........
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on 25 July 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Lay books on topics such as rationality, the unconscious and how our minds work are a mixed bunch in my view. Far too many authors have one good insight, and pad this out to create a lightweight, anecdotal, poorly researched book (Sadly I would often include Dan Ariely's books in this category).

Thankfully, Kahneman's latest work is as far as it is possible to get from this description. Thinking, Fast and Slow is the product of a whole career investigating the crossover between economics and psychology, and it's wonderful.

The richness of Kahneman's research defies easy summary in a review, but by contrast it is easy to say that this book was a joy to read, and deeply informative. This is by no means the first book on the subject of how our minds work, and the important role rational and irrational decision-making plays in our day-to-day lives. However, I'm confident it is the definitive work - after reading Thinking, Fast and Slow I feel as it it is and was a waste of time reading anything else on the topic. Brilliant.
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on 27 June 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I chose this book on the concept that it simply sounded interesting. I wasn't approaching the concepts from an academic point of view or with a specific interest in mind. I enjoyed dipping into the book rather than a cover to cover read. At times I became a little lost but overall found the majority readable and I could engage it with it. I do love the idea of standing around the office water cooler discussing the concepts in the book; having an "informed gossip". The book would definitely have caught my eye in a shop and it will be one I will discuss with others even though I didn't love it but rather found it okay.
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