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Thinking, Fast and Slow Paperback – 10 May 2012
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There have been many good books on human rationality and irrationality, but only one masterpiece. That masterpiece is Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow.Kahneman, a winner of the Nobel Prize for economics, distils a lifetime of research into an encyclopedic coverage of both the surprising miracles and the equally surprising mistakes of our conscious and unconscious thinking. He achieves an even greater miracle by weaving his insights into an engaging narrative that is compulsively readable from beginning to end. My main problem in doing this review was preventing family members and friends from stealing my copy of the book to read it for themselves...this is one of the greatest and most engaging collections of insights into the human mind I have read (William Easterly Financial Times)
Absorbing, intriguing...By making us aware of our minds' tricks, Kahneman hopes to inspire individuals and organisations to identify strategies to outwit them (Jenni Russell Sunday Times)
Profound . . . As Copernicus removed the Earth from the centre of the universe and Darwin knocked humans off their biological perch, Mr. Kahneman has shown that we are not the paragons of reason we assume ourselves to be (The Economist)
[Thinking, Fast and Slow] is wonderful, of course. To anyone with the slightest interest in the workings of his own mind, it is so rich and fascinating that any summary would seem absurd (Michael Lewis Vanity Fair)
It is an astonishingly rich book: lucid, profound, full of intellectual surprises and self-help value. It is consistently entertaining and frequently touching, especially when Kahneman is recounting his collaboration with Tversky . . . So impressive is its vision of flawed human reason that the New York Times columnist David Brooks recently declared that Kahneman and Tversky's work 'will be remembered hundreds of years from now,' and that it is 'a crucial pivot point in the way we see ourselves.' They are, Brooks said, 'like the Lewis and Clark of the mind' . . . By the time I got to the end of Thinking, Fast and Slow, my skeptical frown had long since given way to a grin of intellectual satisfaction. Appraising the book by the peak-end rule, I overconfidently urge everyone to buy and read it. But for those who are merely interested in Kahenman's takeaway on the Malcolm Gladwell question it is this: If you've had 10,000 hours of training in a predictable, rapid-feedback environment-chess, firefighting, anesthesiology-then blink. In all other cases, think (The New York Times Book Review)
[Kahneman's] disarmingly simple experiments have profoundly changed the way that we think about thinking . . . We like to see ourselves as a Promethean species, uniquely endowed with the gift of reason. But Mr. Kahneman's simple experiments reveal a very different mind, stuffed full of habits that, in most situations, lead us astray (Jonah Lehrer The Wall Street Journal)
This is a landmark book in social thought, in the same league as The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith and The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud (Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of 'The Black Swan')
Daniel Kahneman is among the most influential psychologists in history and certainly the most important psychologist alive today...The appearance of Thinking, Fast and Slow is a major event (Steven Pinker, author of The Language Instinct)
Daniel Kahneman is one of the most original and interesting thinkers of our time. There may be no other person on the planet who better understands how and why we make the choices we make. In this absolutely amazing book, he shares a lifetime's worth of wisdom presented in a manner that is simple and engaging, but nonetheless stunningly profound. This book is a must read for anyone with a curious mind (Steven D. Levitt, co-author of 'Freakonomics')
This book is a tour de force by an intellectual giant; it is readable, wise, and deep. Buy it fast. Read it slowly and repeatedly. It will change the way you think, on the job, about the world, and in your own life (Richard Thaler, co-author of 'Nudge')
From the Author
Daniel Kahneman is a Senior Scholar at Princeton University, and Emeritus Professor of Public Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002.See all Product description
From the Publisher
Thinking, Fast and Slow
Why is there more chance we'll believe something if it's in a bold type face? Why are judges more likely to deny parole before lunch? Why do we assume a good-looking person will be more competent? The answer lies in the two ways we make choices: fast, intuitive thinking, and slow, rational thinking. This book reveals how our minds are tripped up by error and prejudice (even when we think we are being logical), and gives you practical techniques for slower, smarter thinking. It will enable to you make better decisions at work, at home, and in everything you do.
Daniel Kahneman is a Senior Scholar at Princeton University, and Emeritus Professor of Public Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
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Why do we marry people just because they're good in bed?
Why do investors snatch small profits from winning investments whilst allowing large losses to build up in bad investments?
Why do parents deny their children life saving vaccinations for fear of unproven risks?
Why do we think a bird in the hand is worth two in a bush?
On the whole humans are incredibly good at making bad decisions because they allow emotions and moral values to prevail over good sense and simple mathematical calculation. We make snap decisions based on our intuition (fast thinking) and often believe our intuition is superior to logic (slow thinking). For example, President Trump recently said he preferred to listen to his 'gut' than his advisors.
Kahneman examines the reasons why we make bad decisions and indicates ways in which we might make better decisions - even if the better decisions make us feel uncomfortable because they are counterintuitive.
My only problem with this book is that it is so laborious in places that I almost lost interest. Sometimes Kahneman goes on and on about a proposition that has (at least for me) zero interest. If he asks 'How much would you pay for a bowl of roses valued at $59?' I don't have an answer because I'm simply not interested and I don't want to know how much anyone else would pay, or why they would or wouldn't pay it. Perhaps it's just me, but I found some of the propositions too complex to bother with. But to be fair there were some chapters that had me spellbound - maybe because they touched on areas where I make bad decisions.
Overall, this is an important book but spoiled by too much dense argument and irrelevant illustration. It could have contained all the salient points and been reduced to half the length without any dilution of the message.
It's not an easy book to read so not one for the beach, but push through and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
On a positive note, the author is an incredibly smart guy and it’s a great body of work that he’s created, and the overarching concept of the book (differences between system 1 and 2) is a concept that everyone should know about.
3.5 stars for me!
I normally read a book in a week or so, but I have taken more than 2 months to read this one because every concept he touches is so interesting that it seems almost silly not to reflect about it more deeply.
I liked Dan Ariely's books a lot (who, by the way, seems to have been somehow a disciple of Kahnemann), but they now seem to me somewhat "light-weight" compared to this book.
As a minor detail, the only thing missing for me is a a comprehensive summary of concepts explained. He touched on practically everything he has researched in his life (i.e. more than 50 years of fruitful research), so it is easy to forget one concept 3 chapters before. I would have loved to have a summary listing all the concepts described by theme or similar. Several times, I found myself going to places like Wikipedia to find just a list of the concepts he described. To be fair, his last chapter "Conclusions" gives a very broad summary of the book in about 10 pages, and then there is the list of contents at the beginning of the book, but an appendix with a summary table would have been helpful.
If this book were to be a 'popular psychology' book in the manner of Wiseman or Gladwell it would work with about half the content. If the book were to be a serious study it would work with about a third more content. At present it is neither fish nor fowl - too long and detailed to be an entertaining read, too many anecdotes to be a textbook.
I enjoyed the book but it was a book I've had to plough through over a number of weeks and that was not helped by the ridiculously small font size in the paperback version!