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Book Review: Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

“Let your intuition guide you.” We all have heard that many times, and while such a statement can be true and helpful, sometimes intuition (our automatic system) can fail us because of our biases, framing effects, or by something else. But if you think a deliberate decision making will always guide you right and is infallible, then think again. It isn’t. We are not rational creatures. Thinking, Fast and Slow goes over our thinking processes and decision making (we humans are prediction “machines”), and their strengths and weaknesses along with how they have come to be and why. The book is amazing, and I would say it is something all of us should read now and then to remind how misguided our thinking can be.

The book has a lot of anecdotes and tests, and while I sometimes find such devices in books tiresome, here they worked. They strengthened the readers understanding how our brains work and how misguided our intuition can be. But I have to warn you. This isn’t a feel-good book. It is painful to understand and admit how faulty we are. But instead of hiding our weaknesses, I think it is more courageous to admit how imperfect we can be and use systematic training to surpass those shortcomings. (Not that it always work.)

The book has its failings. It is a bit scattered, and a lot of information and different studies have been packaged into a small space, making the book a chore to read. But what is written between the covers holds true (until proven wrong.) I personally find the ending hilarious, and maybe not in a good way. Daniel Kahneman ended it with an optimistic note, and I do understand why, we need hope, but for me, it felt silly. He proposes that organizations are better at thinking than individual human beings that our hope should lie there, but we all know what group thinking can do or how bureaucracy and hierarchical organizations can fail us, but I guess that is a subject for another book. I say, if you haven’t read this book, do it.

2 comments on “Book Review: Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

  1. Interesting review!
    I’ve been reading this book lately, and it is very interesting to see cognitive psychology through Kahneman’s lenses.
    What is your general opinion on Heuristics?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, and thank you. It’s a good book, and it goes over many of our biases with our thinking. About heuristics. I think we have them for a reason. We need to be able to solve problems and make judgments quickly. In everyday life, we cannot take time to carefully ponder our every decision. But the problem arises that we live in a complex world where causation has multiple causes and consequences, and it is hard to tell what leads and to what. And when we use heuristics on issues which are more complex than we think or into issues which don’t need snap decision making, say like politics, we (might) go wrong. There Kahneman is right that institutional policies can help iron out consequences stemming from heuristic decision making. Nice question by the way.

      Liked by 1 person

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