Exposure to Kahneman’s work in decision making has played a pretty huge role in my life. I owe him, and others like Thaler and Ariely, a great debt of gratitude for shaping my fascination behavioral economics and decision making. And now, as it turns out, I owe him for showing me how silly I’ve been in dismissing certain books.
Thinking Fast and Slow came out a few years ago, but it never crossed my mind to bother reading it. I’d already read many of Kahneman and Tversky’s academic publications (including those in the book’s apendix), as well as a number of other articles/summaries discussing their work (or anything regarding prospect theory for that matter). So why bother, I thought, in wasting time on 400 some pages that should be redundant.
This was, profoundly, stupid of me. By neglecting this book for so long, I’ve deprived myself of an amazing lesson about the material.
In all honesty, I kind of went into this expecting it to be something along the lines of a Gladwell book: Khaneman would give an anecdote and then point to his work and go “See there.” Instead it was a wonderful series of “Here is what inspired this research, this is how we conducted it, here were the results, and now here are some applications/observations.” Complete with instances of contradictory results, admissions of limitations, &c.
In other words: this book was something I didn’t think could exist, an academic text written in an easily accesible manner. And it wasn’t ridiculously dense or boring, something that tends to be an issue with any writing that depends more on the science and less on the author’s charisma and ability to craft a just-so narrative.
Now I regret not having gotten around to reading it sooner, and even more so, I regret all the other books I’ve put off because of that same fear of the information being redundant (Ariely’s stuff specifically, but also Nudge which is next on the reading list).
Anyway, the book is definitely a great read and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Especially to those who come from a more economics related background (undergrad background in political science and economics was the entire reason I found my way into Khaneman’s works in the first place), this book is a great introduction to a field that provides a number of pieces to a puzzle that feels very incomplete in that field.