Review: Thinking, Fast and Slow

Thinking, Fast and SlowThinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After finally drudging through Nicholas Taleb’s ‘Antifragile’ this book popped up as a suggestion on Goodreads. I was originally planning on reading “The True Believer” by Eric Hoffer next, but for some reason ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ piqued my interest and so I got sidetracked and bought this very interesting read instead. I am not disappointed in my choice.

System 1 and 2

This book can basically be divided into three main subjects that Daniel Kahneman touches and tries to explain to us, without getting too scientific. He starts by explaining how our brain can be divided into two systems. The intuitive and fast system 1 and the more rational and slower system 2. The main problem that we, as humans, face are that we believe we are rational beings, but we are often choosing the wrong things for the right reasons.

How we handle losses and gains

After the intriguing start of the book I was ready to learn more about Kahneman’s theories. The next part of the book concerned losses and gains and how we react more strongly to losses than gains. This part of the book was where I started losing my enthusiasm for a moment, because it felt a little like reading the same chapter over and over again. This repetition was also apparent in the first part of the book, but it hadn’t bothered me as much then as in this part. Maybe because I thought the theory of system 1 and 2 was more interesting than how we deal with losses and gains.

Two selves

The last part of the book was about the experiencing self and the remembering self. The latter being the part that makes us who we are, while the experiencing self is us as we are now. Often we are driven to believe that things were better or worse than they really were. This is mainly because we weigh the good and bad things unequally. For instance a marriage ending in divorce would probably be seen as something bad, but that’s only because we forget the parts that were good and the bad things are more apparent. Perhaps the author himself tried to achieve the same thing here, by keeping a good thing for last, because I thought this part of the book was great again, after the somewhat boring middle part.

Conclusion

As always, the back cover of the book says stuff like “A masterpiece.”, “A major intellectual event.” and other things that Americans might be more susceptible to than this sober Dutch guy. The fact that Mr. Kahneman won a Nobel Prize neither. I guess one could say that perhaps I’m not easily misled by my system 1. And now, thanks to all of the insights in this book I feel that I’m armed with more knowledge to detect that I’m being misled by my own intuition, or at least be able to recognize that I am not as rational as I believe myself to be. This book most certainly can be an eye opener, although it can be a tad repetitive and boring at times. A solid 4-stars from yours truly and definitely a must read for anyone who’s interested in the workings of our mind.

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