Thinking, Fast and Slow
Book

Thinking, Fast and Slow

FSG, 2011

Rating

8

Qualities

  • Innovative

Recommendation

The topics that Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman addresses are both complex and integral to the human mind: He asks you to think about thinking by considering how your mind habitually contradicts itself, distorts data and misleads you. His prose is lucid, his reasoning rigorous and his honesty refreshing – more than once Kahneman illustrates conflicted thinking with examples from his own life. The result is a fairly slow read, but an ultimately rewarding experience.

Summary

Your “Two Systems” and What They Mean

When you have to make sense of something, you think about it. To understand this process, consider a model that says people apply two cognitive systems.

The first is “System 1,” or the mental processing that reads emotions and handles your automatic skills, like driving your car or adding two plus two. System 1 takes over your thinking when you comprehend simple statements (such as “complete the phrase ‘bread and . . .’”), instinctively turn to see where a noise is coming from or grimace when you see a gruesome image. System 1 supplies associated meanings (including stereotypes) rapidly and involuntarily.

By contrast, you use “System 2” when you’re focusing on specific details, like counting or figuring out how to complete your income tax forms. System 2 applies effort consciously, such as when you do complicated math, try new physical activities or search for a specific person in a crowd. System 2 thinking is slower, but you need it for methodical thinking processes such as formal logic.

Human beings tend to value the measured System 2 while dismissing the mechanical System 1, but reality is much more complicated. ...

About the Author

Daniel Kahneman, a professor emeritus at Princeton and a Nobel laureate in economics, has written extensively on the psychology of judgment and decision making.


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