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Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

posted onJune 2, 2018

Daniel Kahneman, one of the most influential psychologists alive and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, in his international bestseller, Thinking, Fast and Slow, an eye-opener in terms of how people rationally and subconsciously make decisions, presents our thinking process as consisting of two systems.

System 1 is fast, intuitive, emotional, effortless and confident. System 2 is slower, more deliberative, effortful, more logical and offers a means to check the responses made by the first system. Written in a simple language, the book talks about choices we make in both our business and our personal lives- from playing the stock market to planning our next vacation.

Thinking, Fast and Slow, helps us think, question our intuitions, put ourselves in imaginary situations to examine our reactions. Kahneman's book is also full of self-help value. It tells us how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble.

Winner of the National Academy of Sciences Best Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and selected by "The New York Times Book Review" as one of the ten best books of 2011, Thinking Fast and Slow is a highly informative read for anyone wanting insight into the human mind. Maybe if you read it you will make better decisions. 

Below is a selection of quotes from the book

  • 1. “This is the essence of intuitive heuristics: when faced with a difficult question, we often answer an easier one instead, usually without noticing the substitution.”
  • 2. “The gorilla study illustrates two important facts about our minds: we can be blind to the obvious, and we are also blind to our blindness.” 
  • 3. “ A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth” 
  • 4. “Mood evidently affects the operation of System 1: when we are uncomfortable and unhappy, we lose touch with our intuition.”
  • 5. “Intelligence is not only the ability to reason; it is also the ability to find relevant material in memory and to deploy attention when needed.” 
  • 6. “Nothing in life is as important as you think it is, while you are thinking about it”
  • 7. “Our comforting conviction that the world makes sense rests on a secure foundation: our almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance.”
  • 8. “The idea that the future is unpredictable is undermined every day by the ease with which the past is explained.”
  • 9. “The confidence that individuals have in their beliefs depends mostly on the quality of the story they can tell about what they see, even if they see little.”
  • 10. “You are more likely to learn something by finding surprises in your own behavior than by hearing surprising facts about people in general.”

Daniel Kahneman was born in Tel Aviv in 1934 but spent his childhood years in Paris, France, where his parents had emigrated from Lithuania in the early 1920s. 

He received his bachelor of science degree with a major in psychology, and a minor in mathematics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1954. In 1958 he moved to the United States and earned his Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1961. 

He is an emeritus professor at Princeton. Kahneman won a Nobel prize in economics in 2002 for his pioneering work integrating insights from psychological research into economic science.  In 2011, he was named by Foreign Policy magazine to its list of top global thinkers. In 2015 The Economist listed him as the seventh most influential economist in the world. 

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