Reviewing books as complex and important as this one is hard. It took me almost 5 months to get through this book. I read about 10 other books in the meantime. Thinking Fast and Slow is such a heavy book to read, the amount of information it contains is astonishingly high, and the information astonishingly useful! As one of the reviews in the back of my edition read: “Buy it fast, read it slow”. On point. Rarely have I seen a review/quote that describes a book so accurately.
The book is an absolute must-read for anyone interested in human behaviour, behavioural science, psychology or just simple good science. The book is truly astoundingly good, you can learn so much from it; I’ll certainly re-read it in the future.
Kahneman is also a fantastic writer. Something I found myself wondering how he managed to express so many complex thoughts and theories in so few words. He compacts the information into as few words as possible like a master craftsman compacts steal into a deadly sword. I can imagine the book being so much longer or less readable if written by someone else.
The book is also very entertaining. If not entertained by the myriad of real-life examples, research questions and unintuitive findings, you’ll find yourself thinking hard about what you just read, or amazed at how wrong your answer or assumption was to the question proposed in the book. Because propositions and questions there are a lot!
Kahneman had one purpose with this book: to try and teach everyday folk how to think better about human biases and to classify and identify errors in thinking or in decisions made by others. As he said multiple times, it’s always easier to identify errors in other people’s thinking than in your own.
What Kahneman calls “water cooling talks” (those talks with your co-workers that you have at the water cooler), can be greatly improved by understanding the underlying faulty decision making that all humans have been born with. A leader decided to make a risky move with the business? Perhaps it’s because the other option is a sure loss, so he prefers to gamble for a small chance to not lose at all, but a higher chance of losing more.
Since we need to give tags, names and labels to everything in order to remember, understand and associate things better, there is always a name to every bias and human “misbehavior” or fault in logic, however I found it rather challenging to keep up with the number of names for findings, even though Kahneman mentions each one multiple time throughout the book.
What I found, however, is that the book’s purpose had its effect. I won’t remember all of the findings, and won’t apply all the recommendations, but I’m definitely better equipped to understand and positively judge human behaviour, as many others as my own. Hence why I want to re-read it in the future, there’s simply so much to learn from Thinking Fast and Slow.
Fantastic book. Highly recommend it to anyone. You don’t even have to finish it to get huge value from it. Each chapter can be somewhat encapsulated into its own for easy-digestion.