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Forty years ago Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky wrote a series of breathtakingly original studies undoing our assumptions about the decision-making process. Their papers showed the ways in which the human mind erred systematically when forced to make judgments about uncertain situations. Their work created the field of behavioral economics, revolutionized Big Data studies, advanced evidence-based medicine, led to a new approach to government regulation, and made much of Michael Lewis' own work possible. Kahneman and Tversky are more responsible than anybody for the powerful trend to mistrust human intuition and defer to algorithms.
The Undoing Project is about the fascinating collaboration between two men who have the dimensions of great literary figures. They became heroes in the university and on the battlefield - both had important careers in the Israeli military - and their research was deeply linked to their extraordinary life experiences. In the process they may well have changed for good mankind's view of its own mind.
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By Jane on 04-11-17
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 ideas were also mentioned in this book.
The biggest idea from these two men was that human intuition, opinions, and judgement is faulty, not reliable, not predictable. Most economists were reluctant to accept this. It ruined their supply/demand/market ideas. But eventually they accepted it. Thus the Nobel prize in Economics was given to DK in 2002. Since the Nobel prize is only given to living people AT was not named, but everyone knew he was part of it.
One example is doctors. They interviewed doctors asking what they looked for when deciding if something was stomach cancer (or it may have been ulcers, I forget). They came up with a list which they put into a computer. Then they did a study giving test cases to doctors. The computer consistently beat the doctors. And, doctors even disagreed with themselves - when given the same case twice sometimes the doctors would give different answers.
Dennis Boutsikaris was excellent. Good job removing his breathing noises.
Narrative mode: 3rd person. Story length: 10 hrs and 18 mins. Swearing language: s*** used once or twice. Book copyright: 2016. Genre: biography.
12 of 13 people found this review helpful
By Neuron on 10-16-17
Behind the scenes of amazing science
Tversky and Kahneman are without doubt two of my favorite scientists, all categories. Their ideas are straightforward and easy to comprehend, yet what they showed about our biased thinking is profound and has widespread implications. They have explained why politicians and the media tend to favour anecdotal evidence (stories about individuals are more easy to identify with) over statistical evidence, despite the fact the latter is much more relevant. Their theories also have huge relevance in everyday life. For example I am certain that much arguing among couples is due to confirmation bias - I remember every time I pick up my underwear enforcing my self-image as a super tidy guy, whereas my partner tends to remember the times I left underwear on the floor, thus enforcing her image of me as a… not so tidy person. If you are not already familiar with their theories then pick up a book and study as soon as possible. You will not regret it!
Anyhow, I have read several books about the couple Tversky and Kahneman, including Kahnemans Thinking fast and slow. And yes, as this book will make clear, they were indeed a couple in every way except for the romantic/sexual way. They had some very productive years together and then they had more dramatic years. There is betrayal and jealousy and there is reconciliation. This goes on and on, like an academic version of paradise hotel, until Tversky’s death - which is the reason why he did not get a nobel prize (you have to be alive). Before I end this review I should also add that the author, Micheal Lewis, is one of the best page-turner producers I know. You rarely get bored when you read his books - indeed, he acts in accordance with how Tversky and Kahneman would argue that you get attention; focus on persons rather than stats and facts.
In summary, this book will give you an overview of some of the most important and influential theories in psychology and economy, spiced with the personal stories of two academics, written by a masterful author. The only reason I am not giving it five stars is because I think “Thinking fast and slow” is better - it focuses more on the theories which I personally like. However, this book was still more accessible.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful