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The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  42,239 ratings  ·  3,549 reviews
Forty years ago, Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky wrote a series of breathtakingly original papers that invented the field of behavioral economics. One of the greatest partnerships in the history of science, Kahneman and Tversky’s extraordinary friendship incited a revolution in Big Data studies, advanced evidence-based medicine, led to a new approach ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published October 31st 2017 by W. W. Norton Company (first published December 6th 2016)
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Nick de Vera Depends. I've read quite a lot about Kahneman and Tversky, but this book is surprising me, it's much more biographical and anecdotal. If you prefer ju…moreDepends. I've read quite a lot about Kahneman and Tversky, but this book is surprising me, it's much more biographical and anecdotal. If you prefer just the facts (as I usually do) you might wanna pass on this one. If you're looking for some personal insight into K&T, this is the book.(less)

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Trish
This nonfiction is unlike others Michael Lewis has offered us. In this he tries the trick of explaining confusion by demonstrating confusion, but near the end of this work we appreciate again Lewis’ distinctive clarity and well-developed sense of irony as he addresses a very consequential collaboration in the history of ideas. Lewis did something else he’d not done before as well. By the end of this book I was bawling aloud, in total sync with what Lewis was trying to convey: why humans do what ...more
Brina
Nov 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, nonfiction
Being a baseball lover, one of my favorite books is Michael Lewis' Moneyball where he follows the low budget 2002 Oakland A's during their remarkable, division winning season. I found this book informative while also exploring the business of baseball. What made this book special is that Lewis made baseball interesting for people who are not usual fans of the sport. Lately I kept seeing reviews of Lewis' new book The Undoing Project appear on my Goodreads feed. While economics usually bores me, ...more
Jan Rice
Jun 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology, economics
Originally reviewed in January, 2017


After reading about this book, I pre-ordered it, six months before its release date.

It's about the work of the psychologist Daniel Kahneman, who published Thinking, Fast and Slow in 2011 and his late collaborator, Amos Tversky. Thinking, Fast and Slow had a big impact on me.

Moreover, The Undoing Project's author is Michael Lewis, of Moneyball and The Big Short fame. That's about all I knew of him. Around the book's release date there was a flurry of publicit
...more
David
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, psychology
This is a great story about two genius psychologists, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. They did groundbreaking research that led to improved understanding of how we make decisions. Although their personalities were total opposites, they found themselves enthralled with one another, and collaborated closely for fifteen years.

Kahneman grew up in France just before and during World War II. His father helped his family narrowly escape from the grips of the Nazis over and over again. After the war,
...more
John
Jan 17, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
First of all, I feel somewhat guilty about the rating. Some parts of the book I liked very much. Michael Lewis writes well but I believe he has fallen short here. Lewis is best at setting up an underdog who beats the system (in sports, the financial markets, etc.). He has attempted the same here about Tversky and Kahneman. But reading about academics who challenge conventional wisdom in the field of psychology is ... less interesting than financial traders who short the mortgage market, or adopt ...more
David Rush
I will be bold, and confidently tell you what this book is all about...Humans making decisions are inherently handicapped by systematic biases that make them think they are being logical, but often, or possibly usually, are not.

And Mankind longs for certainty but we live in an inherently uncertain word.

Man is a deterministic device thrown into a probabilistic Universe (Kindle Locations 2619-2620).

There, no need to read any more or my review.

BUT, I do ramble on, so here goes…

The two psychologis
...more
Andrew Smith
Amos Tversky and David Kahneman are psychologists who met in Israel in the 1960’s. Though very different in personality, they became very close friends and went on to collaborate in producing a number of papers concerning what came to be known as behavioural economics – or in layman’s terms, the psychology of judgement and decision making. In essence, they argued that departures in human rational thought can be predicted and its impacts calculated. To demonstrate this, they concocted numerous sc ...more
Diane
It is a testament to Michael Lewis' writing that chunks of the psychological research featured in this book were beyond my comprehension, and yet I still enjoyed reading it.

Darwin8u
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
“He suggested a new definition of the nerd: a person who knows his own mind well enough to mistrust it.”
― Michael Lewis, The Undoing Project: A Friendship that Changed Our Minds

description

Tversky Intelligence Test: "The faster you realized Tversky was smarter than you, the smarter you were."

I love Michael Lewis. His ability for finding an idea that is centered on a person and then telling that person's story is phenomenal. He isn't the only one that does it. John McPhee is a master at this angle (perhaps
...more
Christy
To start with the mundane and annoying: for a book with this much technical content, terms, and names an index almost seems a necessity, yet none was provided. More foot/endnotes and perhaps a fuller bibliography would be helpful, too. We must support the popularization of scholarly topics, and I’ve read that it takes, on average, at least 20 years for new ideas, analyses, and discoveries to move out of the academic curriculum of higher education to what we teach our children in secondary school ...more
Michael Perkins
This book is a major departure from Lewis's other books, of which I have read many. He usually has a single narrative arc from beginning to end, which has served him well, but is missing in this book.

I was quite interested in the topic given I have read "Thinking, Fast and Slow" three times, which is chock full of insight and practical wisdom based on sophisticated research. I found the Lewis book to be disorganized and rather a mess, unfortunately. And though Lewis is obviously the better styl
...more
Chase DuBois
Feb 05, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve been captivated by other Michael Lewis books. This one was a disappointment and a waste of my time.

Lewis’s books are all about the same kind of subject: a set of men who are outsiders in some way have an insight, do things differently, and enjoy success (scrupulous or otherwise) in their fields.

Kahneman and Tversky match this description, and they are definitely worthy subjects. Their original research papers are far and away the most accessible and enjoyable I have ever read (I hold onto m
...more
WhatIReallyRead (Anna)
What I expected: a popular science book about psychology and the way human brain works.

What it actually was: a biogaphy.

And here I discovered that apparently, biographies are not really my thing. Haven't had much experience with them previously. Probably wouldn't have picked this up if I knew what I was getting into.

What I liked: the historical background the author gave - about Israel, its wars, the way people treat the army and the way military works and influences education, etc. Israel is a
...more
Don Gorman
(1 1/2) Double expresso....check. Red Bull....check. Adderall....check. Make sure you have all these ingredients close by when you take on this book. It will require all your concentration to not zone out as you are reading it. Yes, there is some interesting stuff in here, but you have to fight for it. Most of Lewis's other books have had popular themes or stories that kept you going and engaged the entire time. This one does not. It is a tricky read.
Brandon Forsyth
Dec 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think my friend Andrew put this best: only Michael Lewis could make this story exciting. The only thing I can add to this is that I am now genuinely excited to read Daniel Kahneman's THINKING FAST AND SLOW, a book that it feels like a hundred people have tried to sell me on over the years and that I had, up until this moment, resisted. Lewis is a master storyteller, and the way he plays with the tension of both this ideological partnership and the ideas themselves is truly impressive. 4.5 star ...more
Amy
A better subtitle: "The End of the Affair"
I'll justify my rating of this bromance soon.
Update 9/5/17 - ok, I think I've calmed down enough to do this properly....

So this story is basically a science boy-meets-boy, they have unequal/semi-abusive but productive (in terms of papers published) relationship for a while, losing end of the relationship wants more, alpha male reacts badly/abusively, boy-loses-boy, alpha male gets cancer and says 'now you'll miss me/you'll be sorry!' instead of making up
...more
L.A. Starks
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If Kahneman and Tversky were giving talks today, they'd be YouTube/TED talk stars.

While I first became acquainted with their work during business school, Lewis more comprehensively outlines how their take on psychology has so profoundly affected the discipline of economically-rational (or not so rational) man. Anything published in the last fifteen years on the subject of decision-making owes a debt to these two remarkable researchers.

Tversky passed away before the Nobel prize was awarded for h
...more
Daniel Clausen
Mar 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-of-2020
You don't need this book to introduce you to concepts of "bounded rationality" and analytical biases. These concepts are available in a great number of mediums now, whether it is MBA courses, free Moocs, or elsewhere. But I think every serious thinker needs to get some exposure to the psychology of analytical mistakes. My first exposure to these concepts was in the book "The Psychology of Intelligence" by Richard Heuer. It's still my favorite book on analytical folly and some of its remedies. It ...more
Jake
Dec 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“In the end, peace can be achieved only by hegemony or by balance of power.” ~ Henry Kissenger

Michael Lewis clearly has a reverence for this friendship. So do I. They are two men who brought me to thinking more probabilistically and why I chose my own academic focus. Who wouldn’t want to read about the platonic and professional love Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky shared, so strong that their wives were intensely jealous. These two men would go on to change how we think about economics, psychol
...more
Scott Rhee
Mar 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Michael Lewis, the author of “Moneyball” and “The Big Short” has an amazing ability to write fascinating books about subject matters that I normally find mind-numbingly boring: sports and the economy. His talent lies in the ability to find people---the outliers, the rebels, the freaks---who have a unique perspective and new ways at looking at old problems. Oftentimes, these people don’t even know they have a new perspective on something. They’ve simply asked questions that nobody ever thought to ...more
Kressel Housman
I’m a big fan of Michael Lewis, so when his new book was announced, I put myself on the waiting list for it at my public library. I probably would have read anything he published, even another sports business book (I haven’t read any of those yet), but since it was about a pair of Israeli psychologists, I was especially intrigued. Of course, I’d heard of Daniel Kahneman’s work before, but I’d never read his famous Thinking, Fast and Slow. I got my background from other books he and his partner A ...more
Karen Chung
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm a big fan of Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow, and cite it often in my work, so I did know something about the Kahneman-Tversky collaboration - but had no idea their friendship was this fraught. I have ended up an even bigger fan of Kahneman, but of Tversky...not so much. Sounds like he was a competitive, controlling, know-it-all smart aleck and attention hog - the kind of person I tend to avoid when I can.

I don't necessarily agree with all of the team's findings, for example, the idea th
...more
Conor Ahern
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
The story of Daniel Kahneman and his erstwhile companion Amos Tversky, and their creation of the field of behavioral economics. This was informative and quirky--these guys kind of propounded all of these very provocative and innovative theories on their own!--but also very poignant and sad. I won't spoil it, but Amos really disappointed me with his calcifications toward the end. I don't know that it's fitting that Kahneman wound up winning the Nobel while Tversky did not, but hopefully it provid ...more
Mie
Apr 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-again-again
I enjoy a book or article that uses statistics and/or facts to cause me to ponder things from a different perspective.
Jeanne
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A part of good science is to see what everyone else can see but think what no one else has ever said. (p. 345)

Michael Lewis's The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds is actually three books for the price of one. Read it as a discussion of science and the way it works, the ways psychology has been tipped upside down by Amos Tversky and Danny Kahneman*, and finally, as an intimate portrait of friendship.

When I first started studying psychology (in the 1970s), I saw a fascinating f
...more
Jane Stewart
I loved learning about two very smart men.

This is biographical about two men Daniel Kahneman (DK) and Amos Tversky (AT). There is a little about their backgrounds. Most of this is about their work, discoveries, and interaction as adults. They had a close partnership for about ten years. That slowed down after they moved to the U.S. and lived in different places.

There were many fascinating ideas in this book. I previously read the book Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. Some of those ide
...more
Nancy Regan
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When Psychology strapped on its parachute and dropped into the Kingdom of Economists, most of the natives rushed off to defend Rational Man from the attack of Emotionalists. Then a curious thing happened. When they considered emotions, the Economists found Rational Man more human, more likely to behave as people actually behaved. Probabilities, utilities and even regret mattered less than did potential change from the status quo to these actors. Michael Lewis narrates how it happened in this sup ...more
Oleksandr Zholud
Michael Lewis is a great story-teller and his latest book ‘The Undoing Project’ is as good as the previous ones. This is a biography of two Israeli psychologists who had such an impact on economics that one of them – Daniel Kahneman won the Nobel Prize. This is also a biography of the idea that people are not as rational as they think they are; moreover, their mistakes aren’t random, they are predictable and just like optical illusions even after you know you’ve been fooled you still see them.
A
...more
Maryam
I think I need to read Kahenman's "thinking,fast and slow" to understand this book.
I enjoyed some parts but overall the cause was lost for me!
Andy
Oct 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was worth reading even though I had already read "Thinking Fast and Slow." This is focusing on the interesting lives of the psychologists and still explains the gist of their science.
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8,688 followers
Michael Lewis, the best-selling author of Liar’s Poker, The Money Culture, The New New Thing, Moneyball, The Blind Side, Panic, Home Game, The Big Short, and Boomerang, among other works, lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife and three children.

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