Hundeschlitten's Reviews > Thinking, Fast and Slow

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
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's review
Feb 20, 2012

it was ok

There are some interesting ideas here, but why do so many of these left-brain science types insist on writing their own books? Like a lot of generalized overviews written by some expert in his or her field, Daniel Kahneman's survey of the current ideas surrounding behavioral economics was a real chore to slog through at times.

The book is broken into five sections and, at least to me, things really didn't start getting interesting until section three. In the first two sections, there are just too many experiments Kahneman felt the need to summarize, almost all demonstrating some way in which our decision making is less than entirely efficient. At times, I felt like I was plodding across the written equivalent of the Oregon Trail, with no end in sight.

In Part Three, Kahneman begins to use these experiments to dismantle the concepts of the Chicago school of economics, which is based on the concept that we are all rational actors. But then Kahneman accepts the theory of "highly efficient markets" as a given, which makes no sense if their participants aren't being rational. So even here, Kahneman loses me. But at least he's being topical.

Part Four features more experiments, most of which attempt to find ways in which you can trick otherwise intelligent people into making non-sensible decisions.

Part Five is the most intellectually interesting part of the book, as Kahneman posits an experiencing self and a remembering self, and what this implies about how we make decisions.

So unless you read very quickly, my advice is to begin at page 199, and feel free to skim some of the chapters (which are numerous but mercifully short) until you get to the final section on the two selves, which begins on page 377.
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