Daniel Kahneman on thinking fast & slow

I have been waiting all my adult life for Kahneman’s “Thinking, Fast and Slow” book. Anyone who can link the world of psychology and economics is a hero to me.

For Daniel to research along these lines for 40+ years – a Nobel prize doesn’t quite seem enough recognition but Amos Tversky (who died in ’96) also helped a great deal.

Prospect Theory was the Nobel prize winning topic – which is – Losses hurt more than gains feel good ( an oversimplicication but..) And surprise, surprise – how we feel about such decisions complicates our behaviour.

I got this book for Christmas. I (feel like I) have a 12 lane highway where my brain should be and so I often start the day in the swimming pool just to chill out so I can get through the day without peaking too early.

So a book that gives me a work out is a rare thing and even better “Thinking, Fast and Slow” is actually about how the brain works. A really great book is one that I don’t ever want to finish.

I am very interested in the field of behavioural economics and I especially love that a psychologist who apparently never attended any economics classes has come up with such a great contribution to better understanding these topics.

Jeff Jarvis, Malcolm Gladwell and even Jeffrey Sachs are fast food style writers by comparison. I enjoy their essays and books but Daniel Kahneman’s measured and deliberate exposition of the central idea in the book is a welcome change.

The video link below is to a 68 minute talk by Daniel.

Daniel Kahneman - video

Jim Holt in the The NY Times has written a far better review than I ever could.

“In 2002, Daniel Kahneman won the Nobel in economic science. What made this unusual is that Kahneman is a psychologist….”

Thinking, Fast and Slow” spans all three of these phases. It is an astonishingly rich book: lucid, profound, full of intellectual surprises and self-help value. It is consistently entertaining and frequently touching, especially when Kahneman is recounting his collaboration with Tversky….

A leitmotif of this book is overconfidence. All of us, and especially experts, are prone to an exaggerated sense of how well we understand the world — so Kahneman reminds us. Surely, he himself is alert to the perils of overconfidence.

Despite all the cognitive biases, fallacies and illusions that he and Tversky (along with other researchers) purport to have discovered in the last few decades, he fights shy of the bold claim that humans are fundamentally irrational.

Or does he?”

A fascinating book and a great review. The 68 minute version is a bit long for most of us so I have included an 18 min TED talk below from Feb 2010 (before the book came out.) Daniel Kahneman: The riddle of experience vs. memory

If any of you have also read the book – I’d be really keen to hear what you thought. I have added twitter and facebook logins to the comment function here now and so perhaps you could even leave a comment.