A. Volk#1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on Nov. 6 2011
I have to admit that I wasn't really aware of Kahneman's work before I bought this book. Back in 2002, I was shocked to hear that there was a Nobel prize in Economics given out for someone showing that humans aren't rational investors. "Duh" I thought. Psychologists have known that for decades. Well, it turns out the guy who won that Nobel prize was a psychologist- Kahneman.
This book, written at the end (or just about) of his career, is a reflection back on a life's worth of research. Part biography (including his research partner Amos Tversky), part lecture, part research book, it makes for a good read. The chapters are all short, focused, and aimed at a broad audience yet contain some data for researchers. They also end with two or three quotes that illustrate the point of the chapter. Time and again, we're hit over the head with the difference between System 1 of the mind (unconscious, intuitive, biased, fast) versus System 2 (conscious, logical, lazy, slow). In a nutshell, most people believe that System 2 dominates our thoughts and behaviors. Kahneman goes to great lengths to show that this is often not the case.
Taking a broadly evolutionary perspective, he views System 1 as a background integrator of data that's concerned with survival-level issues. It often steers the thinking of System 2, which is costly and thus lazy. System 1 works well enough often enough for System 2 to only really kick in under consciously important circumstances. Certainly, psychology has revealed dozens of ways in which our unconscious mind can exert shockingly large influences on our behavior in contrast to our conscious perceptions and ideas. That's hardly surprising, and in that regard, I found the book a little stale and repetitive.Read more ›
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Investors are often criticized for making irrational decisions, as if it were possible through hard work and discipline to reach some kind of idealized rational state. According to psychologist and Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking, Fast and Slow, it doesn't quite work that way. People can be trained to make more thoughtful decisions but, ultimately, the anatomical structure and evolutionary history of the human brain calls the shots. And that brain tells us to make quick, intuitive judgments with identifiable biases. Our more reflective processes, more often than not, line up to support these judgments. If this sounds familiar, it should. In 2005, Malcolm Gladwell published the bestseller Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. Gladwell wrote detailed case studies about intuitive judgments. On rare occasions, such as the case of a chess master with several thousand hours of training, intuitions can be remarkably accurate. At other times, when we use physical traits like a square jaw to judge a politician's leadership capabilities, they are just plain dumb. But, Thinking, Fast and Slow is a much richer book than Blink. Kahneman has written the organized, referenced big brother of Blink and other books like Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner and Moneyball by Michael Lewis. All of these titles owe their existence to the intellectual framework developed by Kahneman and others. The author, who has spent five decades studying the way we make decisions, is seen as a pioneer in the field of behavioural finance. He was the first psychologist to be awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics for his co-authorship, with Amos Tversky, of Prospect Theory.Read more ›
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This is a good book, with a lot of insight for sure. The author offers great examples to illustrate his points and these are relevant, and on the whole, useful. My issue with this book is that, after a while, it becomes a bit of a tedious read. Questions like "would you rather have 5$ today if your mood was mediocre because you just had a stellar glass of chardonay or 15$ if your dog had previously had an epileptic seizure and you had a mild cold." Ok, this is an exaggeration, but there are so many of these types of scenarios that I found myself losing interest in the topic. It's not that the material is bad, or even that it is poorly written. Only that for the layman who just wants a good read it can be, well, a bit boring. The book is at its best when Kahneman describes real world circumstances and explains our mind rational (or irrationality) for their outcomes. These certainly provide real insights into how the simple mechanisms of our brains (he refers to this as system 1) operate. He contrasts this with our system 2, which is the more rational, though lazy system of thinking. Yet as the book unfolds, he uses these systems to examine very minute operations of these systems that eventually wore me down until I just wanted to activate my system 1 and flip on mindless cable TV.
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Dr. Daniel Kahneman is one of the world's greatest living psychologists, Professor Emeritus at Princeton University, and a winner of the Nobel prize for Economics.
Thinking Fast and Slow is the summary of a lifetime of his groundbreaking research on the nature of the human mind. It is destined to become a timeless classic alongside Dr. Robert Cialdini's Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.
Dr. Kahneman labels the approximately 95% of the mind that is unconscious `System 1'; and the approximately 5% of the mind that is conscious `System 2'.
« System 1 operates automatically and quickly, with little or no effort and no sense of voluntary control. System 2 allocates attention in the effortful mental activities that demand it. The operations of System 2 are often associated with the subjective experience of agency, choice, and concentration.
When we think of ourselves, we identify with System 2, the conscious, reasoning self that has beliefs, makes choices, and decides what to think about and what to do. Although System 2 believes itself to be where the action is, System 1 effortlessly originates impressions and feelings that are the main sources of the beliefs and deliberate choices of System 2. "
"In the unlikely event of this book being made into a film, System 2 would be a supporting character who believes herself to be the hero. The defining feature of System 2, in this story, is that its operations are effortful, and one of its main characteristics is laziness, a reluctance to invest more effort than is strictly necessary. As a consequence, the thoughts and actions that System 2 believes it has chosen are often guided by the figure at the center of the story, System 1."