A Brief Review of Thinking, Fast and Slow

This book doesn’t read itself – its pages don’t fly forward like Harry Potter or A Song of Fire and Ice. Yet that is because each page is densely packed with insights about the way our supposedly rational decisions are actually affected by all kinds of biases and cues that – if the standard economic rational-agent model were correct – we should not heed or allow to color our decisions. Kahneman presents all these findings in a style consistent with what he’s learned throughout his life: he continually presents small psychological tests for us to give ourselves, so that we can observe the effect in our own minds and are more likely to learn the general from the specific (one of the biases he describes is that when presented with a specific case that illustrates a shared human psychological bias, students are unlikely to connect that bias with their own thinking; they experience life as acting mostly rationally, and insist that the general rule the specific case illustrates doesn’t apply to them.) The insights he presents through the book are useful in your own life, not in the sense that you can correct your own cognitive errors (he explicitly says that most of the time, you can’t) but in the sense that you can recognize them in others and use them to point out decision making flaws in organizations or government bodies. More importantly, his insights have implications for a variety of fields, including the social sciences, policy-making, public health, and philosophy. That Kahneman has written a book that will engage curious readers, academics, and decision-makers for years to come is certain. I myself am now fascinated by the type of psychological research Kahneman details, and plan to follow the latest developments in the field so I can apply it to my study of politics. I’m also inspired to heed his call to work the various cognitive biases into my vocabulary, so I have a more sophisticated language for describing irrational decisions.

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One thought on “A Brief Review of Thinking, Fast and Slow

  1. Pingback: Why Nudging is not enough |

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