Book Review: Thinking, Fast and Slow

Book Review: Thinking, Fast and Slow

As a study of the human mind and a container of brilliant little anecdotes, this book deserves all of the credit it has received.  Unfortunately, Kahneman doesn’t always bring things back to a central point, a place where you can absorb the information and take meaningful actions from it.  It’s still a great book on how the mind works (and sometimes doesn’t work), and I recommend sticking with it the whole way through.  However, if you’ve heard a lot about it and plan to skim it lightly, let me point you to the three most important parts of the book (from my perspective, feel free to disagree in the comments):

  • The Four Fold Pattern that is broken down in Chapter 29 shows how loss aversion impacts decision making in various situations.  A must for anyone who wants to live life more rationally.
  • What the author calls WYSIATI (What you see is all there is) is a very important concept.  When all people know is that a team has won its last three games they’re likely to believe they KNOW the team is good… even though they don’t know anything about the other 158 games.
  • The planning fallacy, the necessity of getting an outside view before making a decision, and the “pre-mortem” are all covered in chapter 24 each worth the price of the entire book.  The planning fallacy is well known to development managers and refers to those moments when you think of what you have left to do in a project and greatly underestimate the number and difficulty of those things.  The pre-mortem and outside views are ways to combat this fallacy by thinking through how other similar projects have stumbled.