Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

In the highly anticipated Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, he 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 the pervasive influence of intuitive impressions on our thoughts and behavior.

The impact of loss aversion and overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the challenges of properly framing risks at work and at home, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning the next vacation—each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems work together to shape our judgments and decisions.

Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives—and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble. Thinking, Fast and Slow will transform the way you think about thinking.

Book Review by ahall

First, for reasons explained below I would not buy this as an audio book.

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.

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About the Author

Daniel Kahneman (Hebrew: דניאל כהנמן‎ (born 5 March 1934) is an Israeli-American psychologist and winner of the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, notable for his work on behavioral finance and hedonic psychology.

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