Sunday, March 19, 2017

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Why I Read It: A personal fascination with what we control and what we don't, in regard to our minds.

Summary: System 1 (instinct) and System 2 (contemplation), and what they do for us.

My Thoughts: We all think the same way. We are, after all, the product of millennia of evolution. Just as easily as we say that Purple Martins seek hollowed-out gourds for their homes in spring because they evolved to do so through the course of thousands of years, so, too, do we react to situations in specific ways because our brains have evolved. When threatened, we strike or flee, in much the same fashion our caveman ancestors did when faced with life-or-death situations. System 2 kicks in afterwards, when we have time to stop and think through the incident.

This is superbly oversimplified by me. The author goes to much greater length to prove the existence of the systems and to explain how they work. He references numerous studies - his own and those of others - that build the case, many of which are truly eye-opening.

I found myself at one point doubting him, based on the results of a survey into which I clearly placed in the minority. I finally realized that that was just the case: when you have a 70-30 split in a percentage, somebody is in the minority. I then took a different tactic in reading the book; I surrendered to it. My own egotistical assumptions aside, I learned to take the text at face value. After that, I was free to enjoy it.

Some of the studies referenced in the book tackle real world subjects like the actual accuracy of "experts" in financial markets, as compared to their perceived accuracy. Are experts really experts? Are they paid appropriately? You will be surprised at the truths. Can anyone honestly say they should trust their instincts, their gut reactions, to guide them every time?

So, drop the ego and enjoy. You will probably find out more about yourself, not to mention humanity, than you ever thought you would by looking at the cover.

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