Thinking, fast and slow by Daniel Kahneman | Lessons & Book Review

Title: Thinking, fast and slow

Author: Daniel Kahneman

Category: Nonfiction, Psychology

Rating: 4/5 

10-word summary: Our brains have two systems that usually work quite well.

About Thinking, fast and slow

Thinking, fast and slow is a book that aims to help us better understand how our brains work. Kahneman presents his main theory of System 1 and System 2 and then shows how these two systems work in different situations and how they can be influenced or fooled.

The book shares a lot of interesting information that can help us better understand why sometimes we act in such counterintuitive or irrational ways. It’s a fascinating book that should help us realize that our own brains are not 100% reliable and we should pay attention to what we believe and why.

Thinking, fast and slow is an interesting book that can be very eye-opening and impactful. However, given the length and style of the book, I think it may not be the kind of book that everyone enjoys. I believe it’s worth reading though – especially if you are interested in how your brain works.

What I like about Thinking, fast and slow

1. It helped me better understand how our brains work

Even though I have read other psychology books and I was already familiar with some of the information in the book, I still learned a lot from it. I think I have a better understanding of the tendencies of our brains and how certain biases can affect our judgement.

2. Kahneman often references studies and uses exercises to illustrate how biases can influence our judgement

Throughout the book, Kahneman presents several studies that make his case more compelling and more interesting. He also uses simple exercises to illustrate how our brains work and how easily we can be fooled or influenced too. The simple exercises presented allow us to experience certain heuristics ourselves, helping us get a first-hand experience. This makes the book much more intriguing in my opinion because we want to understand what happened in our brains too.

3. The book includes many eye-opening, valuable ideas

I have found many brilliant ideas while reading this book. These are the kind of ideas that can change the way you think about yourself and help you better understand how your brain works. If applied, these ideas can be very powerful. I hope I will be able to use these ideas to think more critically and make better decisions.

What I don’t like about Thinking, fast and slow

1. The main theory of System 1 and System 2 was explained, but not really proven to be true

The main thesis of the book is that we have two systems that work in different ways. While this theory makes sense, Kahneman has not proven the theory itself to be true. Kahneman himself admits this in the end of the book, claiming that the two systems do not really exist in the brain. However, he has chosen to use this language to make it easier to understand.

I believe the theory of System 1 and System 2 make sense and it can help us better understand how our brains work. However, if this is not true, I don’t think we should use this model. I think we should use models that are as close to reality as possible.

2. A lot of the explanations about how biases work seemed more like speculation than proven theories

When talking about how certain biases influence our thoughts, the explanations of how this process happens were often just speculations made by Kahneman and the people he collaborated with. This does not mean that the biases themselves do not exist. However, this shows that in some cases, we may not know how they work or why.

3. The book covers many topics and it seemed to dilute the main message

There are many chapters are different biases or mechanisms that show how we think in different scenarios. While all the chapters were interesting, towards the end I started to feel that the chapters were not all necessary for the main message of the book. In fact, the more diverse the topics addressed, the more disjointed the book seems to me. I think the book would be much more compelling and more useful to the general audience if it were shorter and it covered fewer topics.

4. The book is a bit more academic than I had expected

While I find the topic of the book fascinating, I think that the length and style of the book made it feel a bit too academic for my taste. Towards the last chapters of the book, I was reading out of curiosity and determination, but I wasn’t really enjoying the reading experience. However, your experience may be different than mine.

Lessons from Thinking, fast and slow

The brain has two systems: System 1 and System 2.

System 1 is automatic, fast and requires little to no effort or control.

System 2 is slower and it requires effort, energy and concentration.

When presented with a difficult question, the brain often answers an easier one without noticing this substitution

There are many biases that can influence what we think and how we behave – without us being aware of this influence

Quotes from Thinking, fast and slow

“Questioning what we believe and want is difficult at the best of times, and especially difficult when we most need to do it, but we can benefit from the informed opinions of others.”

“A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth.”

“When in a good mood, people become more intuitive and more creative but also less vigilant and more prone to logical errors.”

“We are far too willing to reject the belief that much of what we see in life is random.”

“Changing one’s mind about human nature is hard work, and changing one’s mind for the worse about oneself is ever harder.”

“Our comforting conviction that the world makes sense rests on a secure foundation: our almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance.”

“The brains of humans and other animals contain a mechanism that is designed to give priority to bad news.”

“We all care intensely for the narrative of our own life and very much want it to be a good story, with a decent hero.”

Should You Read Thinking, fast and slow?

Maybe. If you are interested in understanding how your brain works, how certain biases influence what you think and how you behave, then read this book. You will learn a lot from it and you’ll likely understand yourself better.

If you are just looking for an interesting book, maybe this is not the right one for you. The book is fascinating, but it’s also quite long and complex, so keep that in mind.

I really like the topic of the book and its focus on biases, so I believe it focused on some very important ideas. I just wish the book were shorter and more to the point.

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