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Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman Hardcover – January 1, 2011


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Hardcover, January 1, 2011
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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Doubleday Canada; 6th Printing edition (2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385676514
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385676519
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,217 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,078,403 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

This book just might change how you think or how you see things.
J. J. Noh
This author hopes that readers of his book will learn to think more clearly through understanding the research and ideas he presents.
Geni J. White
It helps to understand why we think the way we do and why we make mistakes in our decisions.
D. Evans

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

842 of 890 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Chuck Chakrapani on November 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Back in 1994, Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, Director of the Institute of San Raffaele in Milan, Italy, wrote a charming little book about common cognitive distortions called Inevitable Illusions. It is probably the very first comprehensive summary of behavioral economics intended for general audience. In it, he predicted that the two psychologists behind behavioral economics - Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman - would win the Nobel prize. I didn't disagree with the sentiment, but wondered how in the world were they going to get it since these two were psychologists and there is no Nobel prize in psychology. I didn't think there was much chance of them winning the Nobel Prize in economics. I was wrong and Piattelli-Palmarini was right. Kahneman won the Nobel prize in Economic Sciences. (Tversky unfortunately prematurely passed away by this time.) Just as Steve Jobs who was not in the music industry revolutionized it, the non-economists Kahneman and Tversky have revolutionized economic thinking. I have known Kahneman's work for quite some time and was quite excited to see that he was coming out with a non-technical version of his research. My expectations for the book were high and I wasn't disappointed.

Since other reviewers have given an excellent summary of the book, I will be brief in my summary but review the book more broadly.

The basis thesis of the book is simple. In judging the world around us, we use two mental systems: Fast and Slow. The Fast system (System 1) is mostly unconscious and makes snap judgments based on our past experiences and emotions. When we use this system we are as likely to be wrong as right. The Slow system (System 2) is rational, conscious and slow. They work together to provide us a view of the world around us.

So what's the problem?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When you come late to the party, writing the 160th review, you have a certain freedom to write something as much for your own use as for other readers, confident that the review will be at the bottom of the pile.

Kahneman's thesis is that the human animal is systematically illogical. Not only do we mis-assess situations, but we do so following fairly predictable patterns. Moreover, those patterns are grounded in our primate ancestry.

The first observation, giving the title to the book, is that eons of natural selection gave us the ability to make a fast reaction to a novel situation. Survival depended on it. So, if we hear an unnatural noise in the bushes, our tendency is to run. Thinking slow, applying human logic, we might reflect that it is probably Johnny coming back from the Girl Scout camp across the river bringing cookies, and that running might not be the best idea. However, fast thinking is hardwired.

The first part of the book is dedicated to a description of the two systems, the fast and slow system. Kahneman introduces them in his first chapter as system one and system two.

Chapter 2 talks about the human energy budget. Thinking is metabolically expensive; 20 percent of our energy intake goes to the brain. Moreover, despite what your teenager tells you, dedicating energy to thinking about one thing means that energy is not available for other things. Since slow thinking is expensive, the body is programmed to avoid it.

Chapter 3 expands on this notion of the lazy controller. We don't invoke our slow thinking, system two machinery unless it is needed. It is expensive. As an example, try multiplying two two-digit numbers in your head while you are running. You will inevitably slow down.
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2,507 of 2,788 people found the following review helpful By Arden R. Hall on November 20, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
The kindle version of this excellent book is disappointing. Several features of the book are confusing in the ebook because the formatting is so poor. Tables with two columns run together because they are not boxed and the columns are only separated by one space. There are questions at the end of each chapter whose purpose is unclear until you see them in the real book, where they are set off in a box with a different type face. Most disappointing is the handling of the footnotes - they are relegated to the back of the book with no page number reference. There is few word phrase in the notes that corresponds to the place in the text to which the note refers, but it is up to the reader to scan the chapter to find the reference. The book reads like a mechanical translation of the physical book into a new format, with no effort taken to edit and format appropriately. So the reader loses. With the price of the ebook almost as much as the real book, you will be happier if you buy the real thing.
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An Amazon.com official commented on this review(What's this?)
Thank you for your review. The unlinked end notes in the Kindle book have been corrected. We can also confirm that the charts, graphs, and text are easy to read and have been formatted similarly to the print version of the book.

You can get the updated version of this book sent directly to your Kindle device or app through by the "Manage Your Content and Devices" section of your Amazon account (you can also get there by navigating to https://www.amazon.com/mycd). Once you're there, click on the "Actions" button next to this book and select "Update this title".
680 of 761 people found the following review helpful By Monica Andrews on October 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Daniel Kahneman may have won his Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, but his work was psychological in nature as it challenged the rational model of judgment and decision-making. He's considered one of the most important psychologists alive today, and this book doesn't disappoint with its breakthrough approach to understanding the "machinery of the mind."

Kahneman introduces two mental systems, one that is fast and the other slow. Together they shape our impressions of the world around us and help us make choices. System 1 is largely unconscious and it makes snap judgments based upon our memory of similar events and our emotions. System 2 is painfully slow, and is the process by which we consciously check the facts and think carefully and rationally. Problem is, System 2 is easily distracted and hard to engage, and System 1 is wrong as often as it is right. System 1 is easily swayed by our emotions. Examples he cites include the fact that pro golfers are more accurate when putting for par than they are for birdie (regardless of distance), and people buy more cans of soup when there's a sign on the display that says "Limit 12 per customer."

There are lots of interesting anecdotes as well as layman's summaries of psychological research that will leave you feeling fascinated by the brain. The book has 38 chapters broken into five sections. I've listed some of the chapter titles for each section to give you a feel for what it's about:

PART ONE - TWO SYSTEMS
1. The Characters of the Story
2. Attention and Effort
3. The Lazy Controller
4. A Machine for Jumping to Conclusions
5. How Judgments Happen

PART TWO - HEURISTICS AND BIASES
6. The Law of Small Numbers
7. Availability, Emotion, and Risk
8. Tom W's Specialty
9.
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