Mark Seemann's Reviews > Thinking, Fast and Slow

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
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it was ok
bookshelves: non-fiction

While this was an interesting review of current psychological and economical knowledge about how people think, it wasn't the mind-bending ride I had hoped it would be.

Having had a bit of training in statistics myself, I tend to be fundamentally sceptic of so-called psychological research, as experiments tend to be performed on small (often qualitatively evaluated) samples of people with a hefty selection bias. Although Kahneman occasionally lets slip that subjects in experiments were often students, in general, he glosses over that fact. However, whenever details are available, it's clear that the 'experimental evidence' is based on WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic) test subjects.

This is particularly ironic since the book in several places discusses theory-induced blindness: the idea that researchers can so totally accept a theory that they can't see its flaws. It seems to me that the field of cognitive bias research falls prey to, exactly, cognitive biases.

Although I'm sure some of the details about experiments are omitted in order to make the book readable, it has the effect that the research reported looks more solid than I feel it is. That's most likely not an effect Kahneman minds.

The emphasis on readability also makes quite a few of the more mathematically oriented problems difficult to understand. The language is simply too vague to properly communicate the experiments. More than once, I found myself longing for 'real maths', so that the reported experiments would be unambiguous.

Since there were thought-provoking parts here and there, this wasn't a complete waste of time, but I still found myself happy when I was done with the book.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
June 8, 2015 – Finished Reading
June 9, 2015 – Shelved
June 9, 2015 – Shelved as: non-fiction

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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message 1: by Micke (new)

Micke Hi Mark,

Great review! I have this book on my list of summer reading, but somehow it doesn't feel as urgent any more... :)


Mark Seemann Well, lots of other people liked it :)

message 3: by Micke (new)

Micke And that's why it ended up there in the first place. But you know I have the highest regard for your opinion. :)

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