Alex French's Reviews > Thinking, Fast and Slow

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
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really liked it

Thanks to Rob Radez for touting this book several years ago.

T,FaS is very readable but very information dense.

I think many of the ideas are fascinting, important, and powerful, but I am simultaneously skeptical of many of the details and many of the conclusions.

For best results, it should be read while thinking critically about the details on every single page- not just at the end of a chapter, but every single page.

A few criticisms:

1) Kahneman occassionally notes that specific experimental results have been difficult to reproduce, very sensitive to exact setup, or to vary widely with different experimental gropus (e.g. US vs UK). I think these issues deserve much, much, much more attention in the reader's mind that Kahneman is willing to give them.

2) In framing the book, Kahneman would like to claim that all his research is based on "System 1" and "System 2". This seems to hold up for the first half of the book, but he eventually ranges onto topics that he can not really connect in that way. This is a failure only in terms of his claims early on about what the basic themes of the book will be.

3) In sections discussing utility theory vs. prospect theory, many examples used to illustrate prospect theory seem to be adequately explained by utility theory. I think this is more a failing of the explanation than of prospect theory.

4) In some areas, the book is fundamentally is about "this is how your mind works, and it is wrong". In other areas the basic topic is "this is how your mind works". But Kanheman fails to clearly distinguish when this transition is made, e.g. when moving from ideas based around S1/S2 to prospect theory. It would be helpful to better lead the reader to consider "is this behavior I should understand so I can counteract it, avoid it, or do better, or is this behavior I should understand?"

5) Late in the book the topic turns to the "experiencing self" vs "remembering self". At this point the experiments remain detailed but the analysis seems less well though out- probably because Kahneman has not had half a life time of honing these ideas, only a decade.

I would absolutely recommend T,FaS to anyone reading this review (Jake, Jenn).

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Reading Progress

February 22, 2015 – Started Reading
February 22, 2015 – Shelved
May 14, 2016 – Finished Reading

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