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Thinking, Fast & Slow, Daniel Kahneman Thinking, Fast & Slow, Daniel Kahneman
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Thinking, Fast & Slow, Daniel Kahneman

Winner of the Nobel Prize in economics

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Kahneman mixes psychology and economics to explain how our mind works. And why our decisions are often not that rational. This book paints an entirely new picture of how things actually occur and how we perceive them. Thinking fast and slow is a new guideline for thinking clearly!

  • The central thesis is that people use two complementary thought systems.
  • Our brains are made up out of two characters: one that thinks fast (system 1), and one that thinks slow (system 2).
  • System 1 (FAST):
    • operates automatically, involuntarily, intuitively, effortlessly, generates impressions
  • System 2 (SLOW):
    • problem solving, reasoning, computing, concentrating, evidence based
  • The systems often conflict because system 1 operates on immeasurable heuristics and system 2 requires effort to evaluate those heuristics.
  • The book teaches you how to recognize situations in which mistakes are likely and to try harder to avoid those mistakes.
  • System 1 is very good at what it does: modeling familiar situations and making short-term predictions. But it has biases and little understanding of logic and statistics. One further limitation is that it cannot be turned off.
  • System 2 is much too slow and inefficient to continuously serve us. It’s too vigilant and impractical. Therefore we have to compromise and learn how to recognize situations in which system 2 has to take action.
  • Our brain is primed when thinking about associated ideas. We are not objective rational thinkers. Things influence our judgment, attitude and behavior that we are not even aware of.
  • Cognitive ease describes things that seem “truer” because they require less thought. When a thought needs less explanation, we feel more familiar with it. More familiar => truer.
  • We make decisions on insufficient data; to discipline our lazy intuitions we must make judgments based on probability: think like a statistician!
  • The automatic operations of system 1 generate surprisingly complex patterns of ideas, but only the slower system 2 can construct thoughts in an orderly series of steps. System 2 is activated when an event is detected that violates the model of the world that system 1 maintains.
  • We will often search for evidence that upholds our beliefs rather than seek to disprove them, even if the beliefs are illogical. Our mind will construct an argument to support it.
  • The halo effect: when you like someone, you are prone to expect they will behave in ways that you approve of. That belief makes you like them even more (and visa versa). It feels uncomfortable to realize that our impressions aren’t correct (cognitive dissonance).
  • We construct other cognitive illusions such as:
    • the hindsight illusion: our intuitions feel truer after the fact; we have a tendency to revise the history of our beliefs in light of what actually happened
    • the narrative fallacy: we often create flawed stories of the past to shape our views of the world and expectations of the future; we often assign greater roles to talent, intelligence and intentions than to luck
    • the validity illusion: we often base the validity of a judgment on the subjective experience of confidence rather than objective facts; confidence is never a measure of accuracy
  • Intuition is recognition. Being so familiar with something that you almost instantly arrive at a judgment. How? Recognition through extensive familiarity and expertise, or instantaneously in a highly emotional event. Intuition is immediate pattern recognition.

To prevent errors that originate in system 1, we have to learn to recognize signs that we are in a cognitive minefield, slow down, and ask for reinforcement from system 2.

System 1 System 2
Subconscious values, beliefs and drives that influence our gut feelings/reactions. Articulates judgments, endorses and makes choices.
Jumps to conclusions regarding causality. Makes up stories to either confirm or deny those conclusions.
Works effortlessly. Requires conscious effort.
Works faster; often right but can be very wrong. Can be wrong or right depending on how hard it works.
Influenced by heuristics. Examines those heuristics when it has to.

Get the book here!