Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman

It is pretty easy to write these reviews when I don’t like the book I’ve read. Anyone can pound out a laundry list of things one didn’t enjoy and why, and this is pretty much what I find myself doing (with the additional step of hoping that the laundry list of complaints is itself enjoyable to read). The reviews for books that I have enjoyed are a lot harder to write, largely because I merely want to say ‘drop what you are doing and go read it now’. That’s not satisfactory to write, and nor is it very convincing for a reader who might be looking to be convinced .

I loved this book.

If I reacted so strongly to the book it is mostly because I came to find the subject matter utterly fascinating. The topics the book touched on was at the intersection of a lot of things that have been of interest to me recently. It answered a lot of things that I have been curious about for some time.

Are you interested in how people make the decisions they do? Great, then drop what you are doing and go read this book right now. The book touched upon the two very different ways our brains have of making choices, and how the existence of those two systems impacts our decision making. It does so in a way that maintains academic rigor but is accessible to a lay person. Nor was the subject matter so alien as to be removed – I often found myself genuinely thinking about how the ideas in this book could explain some of the actions people I knew had taken.

I would be speaking too soon if I called this book perfect. Nothing ever is, and this is really no exception. The little vignettes that capped the chapters were a little silly and I felt they were unnecessary. No one is going to take what they learned from this book and incorporate it into their everyday lexicon, and the idea of saying something akin to ‘Suzy is demonstrating hindsight bias’ is a bit daft. But at this point I am stretching myself for something to be critical of.

It is extremely likely that you’ve seen this book around, or at least are for some reason aware of existence. Its ubiquity is well deserved, as are the awards it has won. I don’t think I can say anything kinder than that. I think the world would be a better place of people went out and bought this book, then spent some more time thinking about how they think.

Frankly, I have no idea. And I am happy this way.

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