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Thinking, Fast and Slow

By:
DANIEL KAHNEMAN
My Rating:

In the international bestseller, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, the renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical.

  • Expert intuition: The situation has provided a cue; this cue has given the expert access to information stored in memory, and the information provides the answer. Intuition is nothing more and nothing less than recognition.
  • Those with the most knowledge are often less reliable. The reason is that the person who acquires more knowledge develops an enhanced illusion of her skill and becomes unrealistically overconfident.
  • The pleasure we found in working together made us exceptionally patient; it is much easier to strive for perfection when you are never bored.
  • The best we can do is a compromise: learn to recognize situations in which mistakes are likely and try harder to avoid significant mistakes when the stakes are high. The premise of this book is that it is easier to recognize other people’s mistakes than our own.
  • System 2 protects the most important activity, so it receives the attention it needs; “spare capacity” is allocated second by second to other tasks.
  • We learned a great deal about the working mind—which I now think of as System 2—from measuring pupils in a wide variety of tasks.
  • "Law of least effort” applies to cognitive as well as physical exertion. The law asserts that if there are several ways of achieving the same goal, people will eventually gravitate to the least demanding course of action. In the economy of action, effort is a cost, and the acquisition of skill is driven by the balance of benefits and costs. Laziness is built deep into our nature.
  • One of the significant discoveries of cognitive psychologists in recent decades is that switching from one task to another is effortful, especially under time pressure.
  • The most effortful forms of slow thinking are those that require you to think fast.
  • Even in the absence of time pressure, maintaining a coherent train of thought requires discipline. An observer of the number of times I look at e-mail or investigate the refrigerator during an hour of writing could reasonably infer an urge to escape and conclude that keeping at it requires more self-control than I can readily muster.
  • Flow neatly separates the two forms of effort: concentration on the task and the deliberate control of attention. Riding a motorcycle at 150 miles an hour and playing a competitive game of chess are certainly very effortful.
  • Surprise itself is the most sensitive indication of how we understand our world and what we expect from it.
  • Herbert Simon’s definition of intuition: Expertise in a domain is not a single skill but rather a large collection of miniskills.
  • The way to block errors that originate in System 1 is simple in principle: recognize the signs that you are in a cognitive minefield, slow down, and ask for reinforcement from System 2.
  • Organizations are better than individuals when it comes to avoiding errors, because they naturally think more slowly and have the power to impose orderly procedures. Organizations can institute and enforce the application of useful checklists.
  • Anything that occupies your working memory reduces your ability to think.
  • Superficial or “lazy” thinking is a flaw in the reflective mind, a failure of rationality. Rationality should be distinguished from intelligence.
  • A remarkable aspect of your mental life is that you are rarely stumped. You have intuitive feelings and opinions about almost everything that comes your way. You often have answers to questions that you do not completely understand, relying on evidence that you can neither explain nor defend.
  • For some of our most important beliefs we have no evidence at all, except that people we love and trust hold these beliefs.
  • When an unlikely event becomes the focus of attention, we will assign it much more weight than its probability deserves.
  • The common admonition to “act calm and kind regardless of how you feel” is very good advice: You are likely to be rewarded by actually feeling calm and kind.
  • Living in a culture that surrounds us with reminders of money may shape our behavior and our attitudes in ways that we do not know about and of which we may not be proud. Some cultures provide frequent reminders of respect, others constantly remind their members of God, and some societies prime obedience by large images of the Dear Leader.
  • A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth.
  • When you have doubts about the quality of the evidence: let your judgments of probability stay close to the base rate.
  • You are more likely to learn something by finding surprises in your own behavior than by hearing surprising facts about people in general.
  • Once you have accepted a theory and used it as a tool in your thinking, it is extraordinarily difficult to notice its flaws. If you come upon an observation that does not seem to fit the model, you assume that there must be a perfectly good explanation that you are somehow missing. You give the theory the benefit of the doubt, trusting the community of experts who have accepted it.
  • A single cockroach will completely wreck the appeal of a bowl of cherries, but a cherry will do nothing at all for a bowl of cockroaches.
  • Bad emotions, bad parents, and bad feedback have more impact than good ones, and bad information is processed more thoroughly than good. The self is more motivated to avoid bad self-definitions than to pursue good ones. Bad impressions and bad stereotypes are quicker to form and more resistant to disconfirmation than good ones.
  • Confusing experience with the memory of it is a compelling cognitive illusion - and it is the substitution that makes us believe a past experience can be ruined. The experiencing self does not have a voice. The remembering self is sometimes wrong, but it is the one that keeps score and governs what we learn from living, and it is the one that makes decisions. What we learn from the past is to maximize the qualities of our future memories, not necessarily of our future experience.


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