Md. Nazmus Sakib's Reviews > Thinking, Fast and Slow

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
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Recently I read the book “Thinking, Fast and Slow” written by Daniel Kahneman. I can undoubtedly say that the amount of time I invested in this book was truly justified by the knowledge that I gathered that has shaped my way of looking at the people’s judgment and probably mine too. Coz, I have never considered all those hidden details laid underneath the situation I have faced while making a judgment. I have probably used my intuition more than anything else while making a judgment. No wonder, I have made so much error in judgment in my life. Coz, Intuition is the sitting duck out there and ready to fall prey to error almost every attempt it makes to be correct. Now, the whole book is based on two systems of thinking that we, human beings are equipped with. One is the system 1, the one that thinks really fast and in making so it leaves all important details and relies heavily on stereotypes. The one reason we are used to such a way of thinking even knowing that it makes error is that we all are born with survival instincts. And it’s not really far back if we consider the subject of evolution when we used to live in the wild and most often we had to make decision to fight out or skip the wrath of our predators. We had to make quick decision in most of the circumstances back then. So, considering the error of judgment was not an option when the question of survival was at stake. Even in the modern world we quite happily make our judgments based on limited information and most of the time we prefer the stereotypes to control the perception we are supposed to possess on a particular subject. When we can easily access to our previous experiences or ideas that we have grown up with, we tend to get into the trap of cognitive ease. Hence, system 1 rules our process of judgment and brings out a quick answer for us. Another one is the system 2, the slow thinker. Whenever we are faced with difficult situation, be that a performance analysis or a tough mathematical equation that we can’t really comprehend, our way of thinking imitates the system 2 style. This style of thinking tends to slow its process down and investigate all the details laid underneath the situation we are faced with. Hence, the possibility of making any error in judgment is less here than otherwise.

This book is divided into five parts.
The 1st part talks about the two systems that you are already introduced with. It starts with the introduction on the people’s way of thinking. How their eyes dilate and their heartbeats race up while trying to bring out a solution to a difficult problem. When it comes to put one’s attention and effort, he or she is dictated by his or her prior situation. Sometimes people develop their arena of cognitive ease and just get themselves into the groove. Because of their weak and lazy system 2, they tend to avoid all the required procedures needed to make a solid judgment. With the repetition of their work or confrontation, they lose themselves in the process of getting affiliated with the events for which the mind refuses to produce new set of rules to judge each time they face the same events. The mind thinks of it as a futile work. Hence, stereotypes emerge and often times, it drives one to make error.
The 2nd part of the book talks about heuristics and biases. It’s simple when you think of any past events when you just spat out a statement based on some recent coincidental events thinking that one causes the others. Avoiding all the other variables that are equally responsible for inciting an event because of their lack of exposure at the present time and holding that one particular variable responsible for the occurrence of the particular event because the variable showed its presence just few days back prior to the event we are considering as dependent variable is the revelation of availability heuristics. A non statistician also makes a lot of statistical decision in his or her everyday life. Most of the time, he or she falls victim to heuristics and biases. Another interesting concept that this book brought out was regression to the mean. We tend to do our worse after doing our best. And we tend to do better after doing our worst. That’s regression to the mean for you. If one searches for a causal relationship in this case, he or she will definitely fail to comprehend the insight in such phenomenon. Random fluctuations in one’s performance are always dictated by the prior performance that he or she produced. If you have done your best today, you will surely do worse tomorrow than you have done today. Whether you are rewarded today or not shouldn’t be the reason for your fall on the performance meter tomorrow. Rather, it should be dictated by the nature of “regression to the mean”.

3rd part of the book is about overconfidence. Our thoughts are ruled by “What you see is all there is” and hence, we are blindfolded by the presence of ideas that have overthrown the ideas that could have existed if we allowed them to. Stories after stories that we have been hearing from our childhood, ideas and philosophies that we feel comfortable with are the ones that rule our understanding and rule out any ideas that peep at our subconscious time to time. Most of the time after an occurrence of an event we tend to justify that we had predicted the same thing to happen prior to the occurrence of the event. It’s overconfidence. We couldn’t have been so confident if that event never took place. It’s just the hindsight that made us believe that the event that has occurred was supposed to occur even if the event was just a random process that nature confronted.
The 4th part of the book talks about Choices. It talks a lot about reference point. How we tend to change our perspective based on a reference point is the main theme here. What made him happy yesterday might not do the same tomorrow. He might charge more to satisfy himself. In this case, it might be salary, food quality, any reward that he frequently receives. He has changed his reference point. Risk aversion or risk seeking tendency, either one of them dictates our decision too and in the process for people it might show different forms of utility graph from one person to another. The one who faces with everything bad might go for risky deal. The one who can win at one circumstance might shuffle his decision to make it a risk averse action.
The 5th and the last part talks about Two Selves. It delineates how our experience and memory relates to our present stature of lives. People do error in effective forecasting and hence, become upset over the decision they undertook earlier. For instance, People tend to become irrational time to time and forecast all the good things to happen to themselves whereas the scenario doesn’t support their expectation, statistically speaking. In this case, the person affected by the error in forecasting will inevitably be upset when confronted with the real scenario.
Peoples’ experience and memory sometimes put weight over situations that are biased and hence, results in wrong interpretation of the events that they confronted. It is the experiences and memories that have put more impact that defy the experiences and memories that had equal amount of contributions with less impact on the thought process.
This book showcases all the experiments that worked as decisive manner in bringing out all the theories presented in the book. It will definitely shape one’s way of looking at the making of judgment. A fascinating read that could be a source of revelation for oneself.
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Reading Progress

October 14, 2015 – Started Reading
October 14, 2015 – Shelved
April 17, 2016 – Finished Reading

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