Thinking, Fast and Slow

Thinking, Fast and Slow

In the highly anticipated Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. Kahneman exposes the extraordinary capabilities—and also the faults and biases—of fast thinking, and reveals t...

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Title:Thinking, Fast and Slow
Author:Daniel Kahneman
Rating:
ISBN:0374275637
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:499 pages

Thinking, Fast and Slow Reviews

  • Jan Rice
    Dec 11, 2011

    Whew! Wrestled this one down to the ground. It's got so much in it; I've got all I can for now. I'm leaving it out in the living room for now, though--for refreshers.

    The author's aim is to prove to us that we are not rational beings to the extent we think we are, that evolution has seen to that. And that being the case, the book outlines what we need to know so as not to mess up decisions like we have been doing--like we all do.

    And he's made it accessible. He pulls you in. You will get your sha

    Whew! Wrestled this one down to the ground. It's got so much in it; I've got all I can for now. I'm leaving it out in the living room for now, though--for refreshers.

    The author's aim is to prove to us that we are not rational beings to the extent we think we are, that evolution has seen to that. And that being the case, the book outlines what we need to know so as not to mess up decisions like we have been doing--like we all do.

    And he's made it accessible. He pulls you in. You will get your share of "Aha!" moments.

    You can read it at whatever level you want. You can skim over the more complicated parts and go for the pithy conclusions. Or if you are really into the science and scholarship, there are footnotes in the back--stealth footnotes without the little numbers on the book's pages, so as not to intimidate the general audience.

    All based on science. It's true whether you like it or not. And it is applicable to your life. You can't go over it, you can't go under it, so go through it--with this book.

    If we all used our brains just a little more, what couldn't we accomplish!

    for August 9, 2013: Daniel Kahneman is one of the sixteen Medal of Freedom recipients for this year --

    .

  • Ben Babcock
    Jan 02, 2012

    I kind of want to cut this book in half, praise the first part, and stick the second part in some corner to gather dust. Not that the second part is bad, mind you; the entire book is well-written and obviously the product of someone who knows their field. There’s just a lot of it.

    is kind of like a guest who shows up to your party and then dazzles everyone with an impromptu, 15-minute oration on the geopolitical situation in South Ossetia; and, everyone applauds and turns

    I kind of want to cut this book in half, praise the first part, and stick the second part in some corner to gather dust. Not that the second part is bad, mind you; the entire book is well-written and obviously the product of someone who knows their field. There’s just a lot of it.

    is kind of like a guest who shows up to your party and then dazzles everyone with an impromptu, 15-minute oration on the geopolitical situation in South Ossetia; and, everyone applauds and turns to go back to their own conversations, only for the guest to launch into another story about the time they parachuted into the Balkans to break up a nascent civil war, a story which is followed quickly by a similar tale of a visit to Southeast Asia…. Well, I think you catch my drift. Daniel Kahneman spins an interesting tale of human psychology and the way our brains interpret and act on data. But the book overstays its welcome by a few hundred pages.

    Kahneman’s thesis breaks our decision-making systems into two pieces, System 1 and System 2, which are the respective “fast” and “slow” of the title. System 1 provides intuitive judgements based on stimulus we might not even be conscious of receiving; it’s the snap signals that we might not even know we are acting upon. System 2 is the more contemplative, cognitively taxing counterpart that we engage for serious mental exertion. Though often oppositional in the types of decisions they produce, Kahneman is keen to emphasize that it’s not about System 1

    System 2. Instead, he’s out to educate us about how the interplay between these systems causes us to make decisions that aren’t always rational or sensible given the statistics and evidence at hand.

    Kahneman takes us through an exhaustive tour of biases and fallacies people are prone to making. He talks about the halo effect, affection bias, confirmation bias, and even regression to the mean. As a mathematician, I liked his angle on probability and statistics; as a logician, I appreciated his brief segues into the logical aspects of our contradictory decision-making processes. Lest I give the impression Kahneman gets too technical, however, I should emphasize that, despite its length,

    remains aggressively accessible. There are a few points where, if you don’t have a basic grasp of probability (and if Kahneman demonstrates anything, it’s that most people don’t), then you might feel talked over (or maybe it’s those less-than-infrequent, casual mentions of “and later I won a Nobel Prize”). But this book isn’t so much about science as it is about people.

    There are two other things I really appreciated about this book, both of which are related to psychology. I’m a fairly easygoing person, and I don’t always like to make waves, but sometimes I like to make some trouble and argue with some of my friends about whether psychology is a science. The problem for psychology is that it’s actually a rather broad term for a series of overlapping fields of investigation into human behaviour. On one end of this continuum, you have Freud and Jung and the various psychoanalysts who, let’s face it, are one step up from astrologers and palm-readers. On the other end, you have the cutting-edge cognitive psychology informed by the neuroscience of MRIs, split-brain studies, and rat research. So claiming that psychology is or isn’t a science is a little simplistic, and I’m willing to grant that there are areas within psychology that are science. For what it’s worth, Kahneman went a long way to reinforcing this: it’s clear he and his collaborators have done decades of extensive research. (Now, yes, it’s

    science, but I won’t get into

    particular snobbery today.)

    The other thing I liked about

    is its failure to mention evolutionary psychology. Once in a while, Kahneman alludes to System 1’s behaviour being the result of evolutionary adaptation—and that’s fine, because it is true, almost tautologically so. But he never quite delves into speculation about

    such behaviour evolved, and I appreciate this. There’s a difference between identifying something as an adaptation and determining

    it’s an adaptation, and I’m not a fan of evolutionary psychologists’ attempts to reduce everything to the trauma of trading trees for bipedalism … I’m willing to admit I have an ape brain, but culture must count for something, hmm?

    I suppose it’s also worth mentioning that this book reaffirms my supercilious disregard for economics. According to Kahneman, stock brokers and investors have no idea what they are doing—and some of them know this, but most of them don’t. Economists are, for the most part, highly-trained, but they seem bent upon sustaining this theoretical fantasy land in which humans are rational creatures. Aristotle aside, the data seem to say it isn’t so. I occasionally try my hand at reading books about the economy, just so I can say I did, but they usually end up going over my head. I’m a mathematician and I don’t get numbers—but at least I’m not the only one.

    So

    is genuinely interesting. I learned a lot from it. I would rate it higher, but I was starting to flag as I approached the finish line. Truth be told, I skipped the two articles Kahneman includes at the end that were the original publications about the theories he explains in the book. I’m sure they are fascinating for someone with more stamina, but at that point I just wanted to be done. That’s never good: one of the responsibilities of a non-fiction author is to know how to pace a book and keep its length appropriate. Too short and the book is unsatisfying—too long, and maybe it’s more so. And I think this flaw is entirely avoidable; it’s a result of Kahneman’s tendency to reiterate, to circle back around to the same discussions over and over again. He spends an entire chapter on prospect theory, then a few chapters later he’s telling us about its genesis all over again, just from a slightly different angle. Like that party guest, Kahneman is

    of interesting stories, but after telling one after another for such a long period of time, it starts sounding like white noise. And he ate all those little cocktail snacks too.

    I inevitably ended up comparing

    to

    , a much slimmer volume along much the same lines as this one. Whereas Lehrer’s focus is on the

    behind decision-making, Kahneman is more interested in the

    . Both books boil down to: we suck at automatic decision-making when statistics are involved; therefore, we behave less rationally than we believe we do. Lehrer explains why things go wrong, and Kahneman categorizes all the different way things go wrong. In many ways the books are complementary, and if this is an area of interest for you, I’ll recommend them both. For the casual reader, however,

    is a rather dense meal. By all means, give it a try, but take it slow.

  • Folboteur
    Jan 13, 2012

    In the last few years two books took me FOREVER to get through. The first was Daniel Dennett's "Darwin's Dangerous Idea" and the second is Kahneman's "Thinking, Fast and Slow." What caused this? What do they have in common? Both books explain, in minute detail, simple concepts with immensely far-reaching implications, and both have been... after the slog... the most intellectually rewarding reading of my adult life.

    Where to begin... I have a number of theories running around in my head, and occ

    In the last few years two books took me FOREVER to get through. The first was Daniel Dennett's "Darwin's Dangerous Idea" and the second is Kahneman's "Thinking, Fast and Slow." What caused this? What do they have in common? Both books explain, in minute detail, simple concepts with immensely far-reaching implications, and both have been... after the slog... the most intellectually rewarding reading of my adult life.

    Where to begin... I have a number of theories running around in my head, and occasionally I try to corral them on paper. I organize, sequence and interconnect them in a way that will prevent my reader from meaningfully widening their eyes, in an aside, while winding their finger around one ear... ("Cuckoo!") Good writing about complex topics is very, very difficult, and Kahneman has corraled 30+ years of science, his career and all he has learned into a perfectly arranged sequence that leads the reader into a wilderness... provisioning you in each chapter with the tools you'll need for the next part of the journey.

    The second most striking effect on me is the number of times I said, "Yes... YES!!! this is what I've been saying!" In my case it has usually been some sort of "intuitive"(excuse me, Mr. Kahneman... I mean "System 1") recognition of a pattern in my observations about the way we think. In Kahneman's case those intuitions have been converted into theoretical propositions, each meticulously researched in well designed experiments. Clearly, this is at least one difference between me and a Nobel Prize winning researcher.

    So why does this stuff matter? In the context of broader discussions of free will, intention, choice and control over the directions our lives take, this book can provide powerful insights that might currently be obscured by these "cognitive illusions" and the inherent limitations of "System 1/System 2" thinking.

    Perhaps we're not as "free" in our decisions as we might like to think, if "priming" has such a stunningly reproducible effect. Perhaps we're not so determined, if activities that initially require "System 2" attention, can be turned into second-nature, "technical-expertise intuitions." I.e. learning and training MATTERS in our ability to detect and respond to events that... if untrained... might take advantage of our brain's inherent "blind spots" or weaknesses.

    Perhaps childhood religious indoctrination is a very adept recognition of these mental tendencies/flaws, so profoundly (if intuitively/naively) expressed by Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order, "Give me the boy until 7, I will give you the man." (paraphrased; forgive me)

    Kahneman's discoveries and documentation of mental capacity and biases could form the basis of a "Mental Martial Arts" program: an alternative form of indoctrination, in which students are trained to understand their brains' weaknesses, and learn to take stances or engage in practices that eliminate or reduce the errors to which these weaknesses can lead.

    This book will rearrange the way you think... about how you think.

  • John
    Jan 19, 2012

    An unrelentingly tedious book that can be summed up as follows. We are irrationally prone to jump to conclusions based on rule-of-thumb shortcuts to actual reasoning, and in reliance on bad evidence, even though we have the capacity to think our way to better conclusions. But we're lazy, so we don't. We don't understand statistics, and if we did, we'd be more cautious in our judgments, and less prone to think highly of our own skill at judging probabilities and outcomes. Life not only is uncerta

    An unrelentingly tedious book that can be summed up as follows. We are irrationally prone to jump to conclusions based on rule-of-thumb shortcuts to actual reasoning, and in reliance on bad evidence, even though we have the capacity to think our way to better conclusions. But we're lazy, so we don't. We don't understand statistics, and if we did, we'd be more cautious in our judgments, and less prone to think highly of our own skill at judging probabilities and outcomes. Life not only is uncertain, we cannot understand it systemically, and luck has just as much to do with what happens to us -- maybe even more -- than we care to admit. When in doubt, rely on an algorithm, because it's more accurate than your best guess or some expert's opinion. Above all, determine the baseline before you come to any decisions.

    If you like endless -- and I mean endless -- algebraic word problems and circuitous anecdotes about everything from the author's dead friend Amos to his stint with the Israeli Air Defense Force, if you like slow-paced, rambling explanations that rarely summarize a conclusion, if your idea of a hot date is to talk Bayesian theory with a clinical psychologist or an economist, then this book is for you, who are likely a highly specialized academically-inclined person. Perhaps you are even a blast at parties, I don't know.

    But if you're like me and you prefer authors to cut to the chase, make their point, and then leave you with a whopping big appendix if you're interested in the regression analysis of how many freshmen would watch a guy choke to death because they think someone else will come to the rescue, then this book is not for you.

    If you want to take the Reader's Digest pass through the book, then Chapter 1 and Section 3 are probably the most accessible and can be read in less than an hour, and still leave you with a fair understanding of the author's thesis.

  • Trevor
    Apr 19, 2012

    This is a fascinating book. Reading this book means not having to read so many others. For example, you could avoid having to read, Sway, Blink, Nudge and probably a dozen or so other books on Behavioural Economics. And the best part of it is that this is the guy (or, at least one half of the two guys) who came up with these ideas in the first place.

    I was thinking that perhaps the best way to explain those other books would be to compare them to Monty Python. I want you to imagine something - s

    This is a fascinating book. Reading this book means not having to read so many others. For example, you could avoid having to read, Sway, Blink, Nudge and probably a dozen or so other books on Behavioural Economics. And the best part of it is that this is the guy (or, at least one half of the two guys) who came up with these ideas in the first place.

    I was thinking that perhaps the best way to explain those other books would be to compare them to Monty Python. I want you to imagine something - say you had spent your entire life and never actually seen an episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus. That wouldn't mean you wouldn't know anything about Monty Python. It is impossible to have lived at any time since the late 60s and not have had some socially dysfunctional male reprise the entire Parrot sketch or Spanish Inquisition sketch at you at some stage in your life. I suspect, although there is no way to prove this now, obviously, that Osama bin Laden could do the Silly Walk like a natural. Well, if you had never seen an episode of Monty Python and your entire experience of their work was via the interpretation of men of a certain age down the pub - then finally getting to see an episode of the original would be much the same effect as reading this book. Hundreds of people have already told all this guy's best stories in their own books - but all the same it is a pleasure to hear them again by the guy that first said, 'this parrot is dead' or rather, 'framing effects make fools of us all'.

    You need to read this book - but what is particularly good about it is that you come away from it knowing we really are remarkably easy to fool. It's because we think we know stuff that this comes as a constant surprise to us. Years ago I was talking to a guy who liked to bet. Everyone needs a hobby and that was his. Anyway, he told me he was playing two-up - an Australian betting game - and he realised something like tails hadn't come up frequently enough and so he started betting on tails and sure enough he made money. I told him that coins don't remember the last throw and so the odds of getting a tail was still 50%, as it had previously been. But I had no credibility - I'd already told him I never bet - so, how would I possibly know anything if I wasn't even brave enough to put my own money on the outcome? And didn't I understand the point of this story was he had already WON?

    Still, when faced with a series of coin flips that run - H, H, H, H, H, T, H, H, H - it does feel like tails are 'due'. This is the sort of mistake we are all too prone to make. The thing to remember is that while there is a law of large numbers - toss a coin often enough and in the very long run there will be as many heads turn up as tails - that isn't the case in the short run - where just about anything is possible.

    We (that is, we humans) are remarkably bad at mental statistics. And what makes it worse is that we are predictably bad at statistics. And this brings me to Bourdieu and him saying that Sociology is kind of martial art. He means that Sociology allows you to defend yourself from those who would manipulate you. Well, this book is the Bruce Lee book of advanced self-defence. Learning just how we fool ourselves might not make you feel terribly great about what it means to be human - but at least you will know why you hav stuffed up next time you do stuff up. I'm not sure it will stop you stuffing up - but that would be asking for an awful lot from one book.

    If you want the short version of this book, he has provided the two papers that probably got him the Nobel Prize - and they are remarkably clear, easy to understand and comprehensive. But look, read this book - it will do you good.

  • Laura
    Apr 29, 2012

    Freeman “Dyson Sphere” Dyson wrote the New York Times review, which has me swooning right there. He was a particularly apt pick because Kahneman helped design the Israeli military screening and training systems back when the country was young, and Dyson at 20 years old cranked statistics for the British Bombing Command in its youth. He was part of a small group that figured out the bombers were wrong about what mattered to surviving night time raids over Germany, a thing only about a quarter of

    Freeman “Dyson Sphere” Dyson wrote the New York Times review, which has me swooning right there. He was a particularly apt pick because Kahneman helped design the Israeli military screening and training systems back when the country was young, and Dyson at 20 years old cranked statistics for the British Bombing Command in its youth. He was part of a small group that figured out the bombers were wrong about what mattered to surviving night time raids over Germany, a thing only about a quarter of the crews did over a tour. But no data driven changes were made because “the illusion of validity does not disappear just because facts prove it to be false. Everyone at Bomber Command, from the commander in chief to the flying crews, continued to believe in the illusion. The crews continued to die, experienced and inexperienced alike, until Germany was overrun and the war finally ended.”

    Why did the British military resist the changes? Because it was deeply inconsistent the heroic story of the RAF they believed in. Suppose there are stories I’d die for too. Kahneman got the Nobel Prize for Economics for showing that the story that humans can usefully be abstracted as the Rational Man of Economics was based on a fundamental misunderstanding of decision making. We are not evolved to be rational wealth maximizers, and we systematically value and fear some things that should not be valued so highly or feared so much if we really were the Homo Economicus the Austrian School seems to think we should be. Which is personally deeply satisfying, because I never bought it and deeply unsettling because of how many decisions are made based on that vision.

    If that was all this book was, it’d just be another in a mass of books that have as their thesis “You’re wrong about that!” Which I appreciate knowing, but there’s a point where it’s a little eye rolling because they don’t offer any helpful suggestions on how not to be wrong, or why these patterns of wrongness exist and endure. But Kahneman has a theory. He theorizes that humans have two largely separate decision-making systems: System One (the fast) and System Two (the slow). System One lets us survive monster attacks and have meaningful relationships with each other. System Two lets us get to the moon.

    Both systems have values built into them and any system of decision-making that edits them out is doomed to undercut itself. Some specifics that struck me:

    Ideomotor Effect: (53) Concepts live in our heads in associative networks. Once triggered, they cascade concepts. Make someone walk slow, they think about old age. Make someone smile, and they’ll be happier. Seeing a picture of cash makes us more independent, more selfish, and less likely to pick up something someone else has dropped. Seeing a locker makes us more likely to vote for school bonds. Reminding people of their mortality makes them more receptive of authoritarian ideas.” (56) “Studies of priming effects have yielded discoveries that threaten our self-image as conscious and autonomous authors of our judgments and our choices.” (55).

    Halo Effect (82) “If you like the president’s politics, you probably like his voice and appearance as well.” We find someone attractive and we conclude they’re competent. We find emotional coherence pleasing and lack of coherence frustrating. However, far fewer things are correlated than we believe.

    What You See Is All There Is (WYSIATI) (85). Our system one is pattern seeking. Our system 2 is lazy; happen to endorse system 1 beliefs without doing the math. “Jumping to conclusions on the basis of limited evidence is so important to an understanding of intuitive thinking, and comes up so often in this book, that I will use a cumbersome abbreviation for it: WYSIATI. . . System 1 is radically insensitive to both the quality and quantity of information that gives rise to impressions and intuitions.” (86). Absolutely essentially for not getting eaten by lurking monsters, and “explains why we can think fast, and how we are able to make sense of partial information in a complex world. Much of the time, the coherent story we put together is close enough to reality to support reasonable action.” Except when it doesn’t. Like in our comparative risk assessments. We panic about shark attacks and fail to fear riptides; freak out about novel and unusual risks and opportunities and undervalue the pervasive.

    Answering an Easier Question (97). If one question is hard, we’ll substitute an easier one. It can be a good way to make decisions. Unless the easier question is not a good substitute. I have an uneasy awareness that I do this. Especially since it often REALLY ANNOYS me when people do it to me.

    The Law of Small Numbers. (109) The counties with the lowest level of kidney cancer are rural, sparsely populated, and located in traditionally Republican states. Why? Good clean living? The counties with the highest level of kidney cancer are rural, sparsely populated, and located in traditionally Republican states. Why? Lack of access to health care? Wait, what? The System 1 mind immediately comes up with a story to explain the difference. But once the numbers are cranked, apparently, it’s just an artifact of the fact that a few cases in a small county skews the rate. But if you base your decision on either story, the outcomes will be bad.

    Anchors (119). We seize on the first value offered, no matter how obviously absurd it is. If you want to push someone in a direction, get them to accept the anchor you want them too.

    Regression to the Mean. (175) There will be random fluctuations in the quality of performance. A teacher who praises a randomly good performance may shape behavior, but likely will simply be disappointed as statistics asserts itself and a bad performance follows. A teacher who criticizes a bad performance may incentivize, but likely will simply have a false sense of causation when statistics asserts itself and a good performance happens. Kahneman describes it as “a significant fact of the human condition: the feedback to which life exposes us too is perverse. Because we tend to be nice to other people when they please us and nasty when they do not, we are statistically punished for being nice and rewarded for being nasty.” (176).

    The Illusion of Understanding (204) The sense-making machinery of System 1 makes us see the world as more tidy, simple, predictable, and coherent than it really is. The illusion that one has understood the past feeds the further illusion that one can control the future. These illusions are comforting. They reduce the anxiety that we would experience if we allowed ourselves to fully acknowledge the uncertainties of existence. We all have a need for the reassuring message that actions have appropriate consequences, and that success will reward wisdom and courage.” But it doesn’t . (212). For example, we’re totally wrong about whether you can beat the stock market.

    Formulas are often much more predictive than learned intuition. I’m going to have to wrestle with this one, but he alluded to a claim by Robyn Dawes that “marital stability is well predicted by a formula: frequency of lovemaking minus frequency of quarrels.” (226) Snicker.

    Premortems Can Help. (264) before making a decision, assign someone to imagine it’s a year into the future and the plan was a disaster. Have them write a history of the disaster.

    We value losses more than gains. (349) Which is fine except when that means we expose others to more risk because we did the math wrong.

    The Focusing Illusion (402) “Nothing in life is as important as you think it is when you are thinking about it.” We overvalue what’s in our mind at the moment, which is subject to priming.

    He closes by stressing he does not mean to say that people are irrational. But, he says, “rational” in economic terms has a particular meaning that does not describe people. “For economists and decision theorists, [rationality] has an altogether different meaning. The only test of rationality is not whether a person’s beliefs and preferences are reasonable, but whether they are internally consistent. A rational person can believe in ghosts, so long as all her other beliefs are consistent with the existence of ghosts. . . . Rationality is logical coherence – reasonable or not. Econs are rational by this definition, but there is overwhelming evidence that Humans cannot be. . . .

    “The definition of rationality as coherence is impossibly restrictive; it demands adherence to rules of logic that a finite mind is not able to implement. Reasonable people cannot be rational by that definition, but they should not be branded as irrational for that reason. Irrational is a strong word, which connotes impulsivity, emotionality, and a stubborn resistance to reasoned argument. I often cringe when my work with Amos is credited with demonstrating that human choices are irrational, when in fact our research only showed that Humans are not well described by the rational-agent model.” (411)

    A good read.

  • Jay Kamaladasa
    Aug 15, 2012

    Hands down, one of the best books in its genre.

    The book is a lengthy, self-conscious and a challenging read but highly recommended if you're interested in why human beings behave the way they behave. It's given me so much 'oh snap, so that's why we're so dumb' moments that at this point I don't even want to admit I'm a human to any space-time traveling race that comes in collision of 21st century Earth.

    Citing behavioral research studies, he's convinced me that human confidence is a measure of w

    Hands down, one of the best books in its genre.

    The book is a lengthy, self-conscious and a challenging read but highly recommended if you're interested in why human beings behave the way they behave. It's given me so much 'oh snap, so that's why we're so dumb' moments that at this point I don't even want to admit I'm a human to any space-time traveling race that comes in collision of 21st century Earth.

    Citing behavioral research studies, he's convinced me that human confidence is a measure of whether a person has built up a coherent story not that the person truly knows what she's doing. He's convinced me that the feeling of 'ease' is just cognitive familiarity. He's convinced me why first impressions matter more than we think due to the Halo effect. He's convinced me that the human mind doesn't understand non-events. We think we understand the past, but we really don't. We create coherency by attributing causality to events, but not to non-events. In other words we underestimate the role of luck or the role of unknown variables in a given situation. He has given me reason to believe that in low validity environments, it's better to use formula's than to listen to expert human judgment. For example, the stability of a marriage can be better predicted by a simple equation like [stability = frequency of love making - frequency of arguing] than an expert opinion.

    But one of the most interesting hypothesis he builds up is the existence of two systems in the mind. System 1 is prone to cognitive biases described above, but it's also where morality comes from. Not to mention intuitive judgment and hueristic answers to life's everyday questions. Would you believe it? Morality is more of an intuitive thing than a logical and reasonable framework! And the funny thing is without system 1, we'd won't survive a day in the life. Not to mention we wouldn't act human. System 2 on the other hand is more introspective, rational and is capable of being aware of the cognitive biases created by System 1. If my understanding is correct then, we can replicate system 2 by a machine or artificial intelligence. But that machine will not have the same extent of morality that we have.... food for thought!

    In later chapters of the book, he describes another variation of duality in the human mind. An Experiencing Self and a Remembering Self. With countless examples (both experimental and anecdotal) he vividly paints a picture of how humans have this notion of "I am my remembering self, and strangely my experiencing self is a stranger to me." We're actually okay with letting our Experiencing Self suffer for the good of the Remembering Self!! This ties in to the cognitive bias of "focusing Illusion" (Focalism) and how we tend to overestimate a certain aspect of life.

    To put the icing on the cake he finalizes the book by analyzing how we appreciate, value and judge the quality of our lives with all these biases combined. And it's amazing how irrational we are in doing so. Not only have I realized from this book that I should stop worrying about societal standards (because they are mostly based on irrational biases) but that I should spend a significant amount of my time and effort to into creating a value structure ideally suited for myself. Now, only if I had bit more memory and cpu speed on System 2...

  • David
    Aug 31, 2012

    This is an excellent book about how we think, written by a Nobel-prize-winning economist. Kahneman explains how two "systems" in the mind make decisions. "System 1" is the fast, intuitive aspect of the mind. "System 2" is the slower, logical and reasoning part of the mind. We generally make decisions quickly with the System 1, often because System 2 is simply--lazy. It takes effort to think things out rationally, and our rational minds are not always up to the job.

    This book is a long, comprehen

    This is an excellent book about how we think, written by a Nobel-prize-winning economist. Kahneman explains how two "systems" in the mind make decisions. "System 1" is the fast, intuitive aspect of the mind. "System 2" is the slower, logical and reasoning part of the mind. We generally make decisions quickly with the System 1, often because System 2 is simply--lazy. It takes effort to think things out rationally, and our rational minds are not always up to the job.

    This book is a long, comprehensive explanation of why we make decisions the way we do. Both systems are necessary, but both are subject to fallacies. Kahneman explains many of these fallacies. Most people do not really understand probability, so we are not good at judging relative levels of risk. Our decisions are strongly colored by how we frame questions in our minds. Simply re-framing a question can easily cause people--even professionals like doctors--to reverse decisions. We need to understand these framing issues, to avoid bad decisions. Elements of causality and Bayesian probability are described in some detail.

    One of the most interesting aspects of the ways we think, is the concept of

    . Often, when subjected to a difficult question, we answer immediately. But really, we do not answer the question at hand--we have made a subtle switch to a simpler question, without even realizing it. Kahneman describes this quick switch to an

    answer, in quite a bit of detail. Another interesting aspect is what he calls "hedonic" theory. Our memories of pleasant and unpleasant experiences are very much colored by their peak intensities and their ends--but definitely not by their durations. In other words, a short, very unpleasant experience is remembered as being much worse than an very long duration, unpleasant experience.

    Some of the explanations of our ways of thinking may seem basic and obvious if you have read other psychology books. But then you realize--Kahneman and his colleague Amos Tversky

    these aspects of psychology, by conducting a wide variety of clever experiments. Very well written, and understandable to the non-specialist, I highly recommend this book to anybody interested in psychology.

  • Megan Baxter
    Oct 31, 2012

    is just okay. It's being marketed as a book on psychology (and economic psychology, in particular) for the layperson. I'm not sure if other laypeople agree, but this wasn't really for me. And it's not that the prose is too technical (okay, sometimes it is) but rather that Kahneman is stuck somewhere between academic technicalities and clear expressive prose.

    Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You

    is just okay. It's being marketed as a book on psychology (and economic psychology, in particular) for the layperson. I'm not sure if other laypeople agree, but this wasn't really for me. And it's not that the prose is too technical (okay, sometimes it is) but rather that Kahneman is stuck somewhere between academic technicalities and clear expressive prose.

    Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision

    .

    In the meantime, you can read the entire review at

  • Vijai
    Nov 30, 2012

    If your objective, like it is when one finishes reading a self-help book, is to implement what Mr. Kahneman has to say in real life and benefit from it, I should warn you, you will be sorely disappointed. Believe it or not, in my opinion, I believe Mr. Kahneman is telling you exactly that in this book - that whether you like it or not, your entire life is guided or may I say decided by two fundamental ideas and that there is very little you can do to change it, period.

    Mr. Kahneman is probably t

    If your objective, like it is when one finishes reading a self-help book, is to implement what Mr. Kahneman has to say in real life and benefit from it, I should warn you, you will be sorely disappointed. Believe it or not, in my opinion, I believe Mr. Kahneman is telling you exactly that in this book - that whether you like it or not, your entire life is guided or may I say decided by two fundamental ideas and that there is very little you can do to change it, period.

    Mr. Kahneman is probably the villain in every modern day spiritual guru's life, he argues very effectively that contrary to what these gurus may say the external world/ your environment/ surroundings/ or even society for that matter has a large say in your personal deliberate actions. You don't have a choice.

    So, having said that, shelving this book in psychology section would be gross injustice. In my view this is such a good commentary of human nature. The two are different, very much so.

    Read it, totally worth it in my opinion. Can get a little too drab but hang in there, this book is an eye opener.