We occasionally veer off-topic from our usual software/business/ERP track when something we believe worthy of your attention grabs our eye. Today, it’s to acquaint you with an outstanding book that has value for every thinking person today (which, at last look, was approximately 85.7% of all of us!).
Daniel Kahneman is a Princeton Professor who won the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics. Some of the brightest lights in the field of Psychology have heralded him, and/or his new book Thinking, Fast and Slow as “a masterpiece,” and Kahneman himself as “one of the most original and interesting thinkers of our time”… and “a tour de force by an intellectual giant.”
You could do worse.
Kahneman’s analysis of how we think is informed by a lifetime of research and analysis in the field of Psychology, breaking down human thought into two main functionaries: System 1 as he calls it is the intuitive system. That’s the one we use to make quick, gut judgments and fast decisions… the stuff of which everyday life decisions are made. It’s quick, intuitive and often effortless. It’s based on wisdom and experience and a history of formed judgment. System 2 is the effortful system, the analytical, thoughtful part of our thinking. After a snap judgment by System 1, System 2 is the one that will provide a meaningful explanation later, if required.
As Kahneman puts it, “The attentive System 2 is who we think we are. System 2 articulates judgments and makes choices, but it often endorses or rationalizes ideas and feelings that were generated by System 1.”
And from this basic duality in thinking, Kahneman frames an entire book full of fascinating discoveries, experiments, ruminations and conclusions about the nature of how we think.
Kahneman’s prose, his lucid examples and clear thinking make for a fascinating read that will be of use to anyone interested in why we’re sometimes very smart, and sometimes very… wrong. Whether it’s exploring our assumptions and associations, our logical disconnects, or our own worst tendencies, Kahneman is in peak form when it comes to topics as diverse as loss aversion, framing the risks of decisions at work, home and investing, and the profound effects our cognitive biases have on how we think, act and live.
The book is about heuristics which he defines simply as ‘a simple procedure that helps find adequate, though often imperfect, answers to difficult questions.’ The word comes from the same root as Eureka’ (Euclid’s ‘I found it!’ moment). From there he forms a free-flowing cascade of thought and analysis on the nature of thought, and the biases we carry that sometimes interfere with even our own best interests.
While the book is not a lightweight, it is eminently readable and clear – and more to the point, fascinating. Kahneman engages the reader in (to steal from the book’s jacket) “a lively conversation about how we think.” Check it out. You’ll be glad you did.