Thinking, Fast and Slow Paperback – 2 April 2013
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"It is an astonishingly rich book: lucid, profound, full of intellectual surprises and self-help value. It is consistently entertaining . . . 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 . . . [I] 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."
--Jim Holt, The New York Times Book Review
--William Easterly, Financial Times "I will never think about thinking quite the same. [Thinking, Fast and Slow] is a monumental achievement."
--Roger Lowenstein, Bloomberg/Businessweek "Brilliant . . . It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of Daniel Kahneman's contribution to the understanding of the way we think and choose. He stands among the giants, a weaver of the threads of Charles Darwin, Adam Smith and Sigmund Freud. Arguably the most important psychologist in history, Kahneman has reshaped cognitive psychology, the analysis of rationality and reason, the understanding of risk and the study of happiness and well-being . . . A magisterial work, stunning in its ambition, infused with knowledge, laced with wisdom, informed by modesty and deeply humane. If you can read only one book this year, read this one."
--Janice Gross Stein, The Globe and Mail Everyone should read Thinking, Fast and Slow."
--Jesse Singal, Boston Globe "[Thinking, Fast and Slow] is wonderful. 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 "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 "[A] tour de force of psychological insight, research explication and compelling narrative that brings together in one volume the high points of Mr. Kahneman's notable contributions, over five decades, to the study of human judgment, decision-making and choice . . . Thanks to the elegance and force of his ideas, and the robustness of the evidence he offers for them, he has helped us to a new understanding of our divided minds--and our whole selves."
--Christoper F. Chabris, The Wall Street Journal "A major intellectual event . . . The work of Kahneman and Tversky was a crucial pivot point in the way we see ourselves."
--David Brooks, The New York Times "For anyone interested in economics, cognitive science, psychology, and, in short, human behavior, this is the book of the year. Before Malcolm Gladwell and Freakonomics, there was Daniel Kahneman, who invented the field of behavior economics, won a Nobel . . . and now explains how we think and make choices. Here's an easy choice: read this."
--The Daily Beast "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, William B. Ogden Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago; co-author of Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics "Thinking, Fast and Slow is a masterpiece--a brilliant and engaging intellectual saga by one of the greatest psychologists and deepest thinkers of our time. Kahneman should be parking a Pulitzer next to his Nobel Prize."
--Daniel Gilbert, Harvard University Professor of Psychology, author of Stumbling on Happiness, host of the award-winning PBS television series This Emotional Life "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 Taleb, author of The Black Swan "Daniel Kahneman is among the most influential psychologists in history and certainly the most important psychologist alive today. He has a gift for uncovering remarkable features of the human mind, many of which have become textbook classics and part of the conventional wisdom. His work has reshaped social psychology, cognitive science, the study of reason and of happiness, and behavioral economics, a field that he and his collaborator Amos Tversky helped to launch. The appearance of Thinking, Fast and Slow is a major event."
--Steven Pinker, Harvard College Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of How the Mind Works and The Better Angels of our Nature
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"If very few of us have read The Origin of the Species from end to end, it is not because it overtaxes our mind, but because we take in the whole case and are prepared to accept it long before we have come to the end of the innumerable instances and illustrations of which the book mainly consists. Darwin becomes tedious in the manner of a man who insists on continuing to prove his innocence after he has been acquitted. You assure him that there is not a stain on his character, and beg him to leave the court; but he will not be content with enough evidence to acquit him: he will have you listen to all the evidence that exists in the world."
Preface to Back to Methuselah, p. xlviii
I have mixed feelings about this book for various reasons. The first 200 pages (Part 1 and 2) are heavily focused on the author trying to convince the reader that it is better to think statistically rather than instinctively / intuitively. After stating countless studies to support his premise, the author (very briefly) in Chapter 21 admits that “formulas based on statistics or on common sense” are both good forms to develop valued algorithms – Doesn’t common sense fit into instinct or intuition? Later in the same chapter the author concedes that intuition adds value but only to the extent that the individual bases it off sufficient research. To me, the way most of the book was written, especially in Parts 1 and 2, was a little over the top. The chapters are short and each one cites at least one study that the author or someone else performed. It becomes example after example after example and redundant. The beginning chapters seem as if the author put a group of journal articles together to develop part of the book. Don’t get me wrong, many of the studies are really interesting and I find them very helpful, I just believe that it became a little redundant. However, there is some evidence that also says that many of the studies referenced in this book were not able to be reproduced, adding more speculation on the evidence supporting the author’s premise.
Furthermore, the book is very interactive with the reader and some parts are a little condescending. For example, in the Introduction, the author poses a question to the reader asking whether or not a personality description means the person in question is a farmer or a librarian. Rather than assuming that the multitude of readers may come up with different responses, the author states “Did it occur to you that there are more than 20 male farmers.” While I understand where the author was going with the question, the author presumed that the readers would only answer one way and this recurs throughout the book. Another example in Chapter 16 assumed that the reader came up with the wrong answer and even stated that the most common answer to this question is wrong, however, the author does not explain how to come up with the correct answer.
Since this book is very interactive, I wouldn’t purchase the audio book. I do have both the hard copy and the audio book and further noticed that there were a few mistakes between the hard copy and the audio. Sometimes the mistake was quite minimal such as words were flip-flopped but at the end of Chapter 17 the author asks a question which requires some thought and work by the reader. The total in the audiobook was completely off. Instead of stating the total at 81 million (as in the hard copy) the audio book read it as 61 million and the Total for another part of the question in the same example was 67.1 million in the audio book instead of 89.1 million as the hard copy stated.
All in all, a good part of the book is intriguing. The author clearly has conducted extensive research throughout his career and was able to present much of it in this book in a form that would be comprehensible to non-econ and non-psychology persons.