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Thinking, Fast and Slow Paperback – April 2, 2013

4.4 out of 5 stars 2,447 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 499 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (April 2, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374533555
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374533557
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.3 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,447 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Graham H. Seibert TOP 500 REVIEWER on March 15, 2012
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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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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An Amazon.com official commented on the review below
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".
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As one who was brought up with Herbert Simon and"satisficing," I have mixed feelings about this book. As an intelligence professional I know for a fact that corrupt politicians have zero interest in the facts, only in what will profit them personally in the short-term. As much as I would like to see integrity restored as the core value of government, economy, and society, in the larger context in which we live this book is a curiosity.

There are gems and it is certainly worth reading, but as one other reviewer points out, it is not the easiest reading nor the most delightful. Here is what I got out of it (my summary notes, I donate all books right after I read them, to a nearby university).

For those instances when BOTH intelligence (decision-support) officers and their clients (politicians, policy makers, acquisition managers, operational commanders) have integrity--a condition that does not exist today, this book is very useful as a training aid.

01 It strives to provide a deeper understanding of judgments and choices by humans.

02 It fully documents the biases of intuition (judgment informed by past cases)

03 It documents the fact that decision making under uncertainty leads to humans being too prone to believe findings based on inadequate evidence, and too prone to avoid collecting a sufficiency of observations or research findings by others.

The essence of the book is the author's distinction between System 1 and System 2.

System 1 is automatic, fact, and falls prey to illusions.

System 2 is controlled, slow, requires attention, and is easily distracted.
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