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Thinking, Fast and Slow Hardcover – October 25, 2011
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Kahneman's thesis is that the human animal is systematically illogical. Not only do we mis-assess situations, but we do so following fairly predictable patterns. Moreover, those patterns are grounded in our primate ancestry.
The first observation, giving the title to the book, is that eons of natural selection gave us the ability to make a fast reaction to a novel situation. Survival depended on it. So, if we hear an unnatural noise in the bushes, our tendency is to run. Thinking slow, applying human logic, we might reflect that it is probably Johnny coming back from the Girl Scout camp across the river bringing cookies, and that running might not be the best idea. However, fast thinking is hardwired.
The first part of the book is dedicated to a description of the two systems, the fast and slow system. Kahneman introduces them in his first chapter as system one and system two.
Chapter 2 talks about the human energy budget. Thinking is metabolically expensive; 20 percent of our energy intake goes to the brain. Moreover, despite what your teenager tells you, dedicating energy to thinking about one thing means that energy is not available for other things. Since slow thinking is expensive, the body is programmed to avoid it.
Chapter 3 expands on this notion of the lazy controller. We don't invoke our slow thinking, system two machinery unless it is needed. It is expensive. As an example, try multiplying two two-digit numbers in your head while you are running. You will inevitably slow down.Read more ›
Since other reviewers have given an excellent summary of the book, I will be brief in my summary but review the book more broadly.
The basis thesis of the book is simple. In judging the world around us, we use two mental systems: Fast and Slow. The Fast system (System 1) is mostly unconscious and makes snap judgments based on our past experiences and emotions. When we use this system we are as likely to be wrong as right. The Slow system (System 2) is rational, conscious and slow. They work together to provide us a view of the world around us.
So what's the problem?Read more ›
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Kahneman introduces two mental systems, one that is fast and the other slow. Together they shape our impressions of the world around us and help us make choices. System 1 is largely unconscious and it makes snap judgments based upon our memory of similar events and our emotions. System 2 is painfully slow, and is the process by which we consciously check the facts and think carefully and rationally. Problem is, System 2 is easily distracted and hard to engage, and System 1 is wrong as often as it is right. System 1 is easily swayed by our emotions. Examples he cites include the fact that pro golfers are more accurate when putting for par than they are for birdie (regardless of distance), and people buy more cans of soup when there's a sign on the display that says "Limit 12 per customer."
There are lots of interesting anecdotes as well as layman's summaries of psychological research that will leave you feeling fascinated by the brain. The book has 38 chapters broken into five sections. I've listed some of the chapter titles for each section to give you a feel for what it's about:
PART ONE - TWO SYSTEMS
1. The Characters of the Story
2. Attention and Effort
3. The Lazy Controller
4. A Machine for Jumping to Conclusions
5. How Judgments Happen
PART TWO - HEURISTICS AND BIASES
6. The Law of Small Numbers
7. Availability, Emotion, and Risk
8. Tom W's Specialty
9.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Although I'm not super interested in psychology, I found this book to be very fascinating. There were many 'ah ha !' moments that mirrored my own experience in making decisions. Read morePublished 4 days ago by OldGeezer
He blatantly ripped off Malcolm Gladwell's book cover style. Its an obvious copy.Published 5 days ago by J.Nader
This book was recommended by a friend and it is a life improving, perspective changing book. A must read!!Published 6 days ago by Tai Chica
Extremely slow, technical read. You'll have to have a lot of patience and drive to read this one. Although,the content was useful.Published 7 days ago by 100%
His writing style is boring. He's not a good writer. Although the topics he touched on are very interesting and makes good points, he rambles off too often. Read morePublished 7 days ago by 225pedorro