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Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.



I started reading this book and am half way through and, although I'm not finished, I would have to disagree with you. This book is mostly pop-psychology with overstated implications and reliance on low-stake experiments that can not always be replicated. Also, the book glosses over actual results by saying "the participants were more likely to x than y". How much more likely?

A typical example of psychological discovery discussed in the book: 1. Ask someone to give 3 or 10 examples of when they were assertive 2. Ask someone to grade themselves on how assertive they are

And the study shows that people who were asked for 3 examples of how assertive they are were more likely to grade themselves as more assertive that those who were asked for 10 examples due to recollection bias.

I mean, I could see how this is sort of interesting but it's such low stakes. How would anyone be able to grade themselves from 1 - 10 on how assertive they are? What does that even mean? What implications does this have on anything?

I don't know. Psych experiments that are so glorified in the book seem to me to be too convenient and a form of story telling, which is fine except for the troubling implications that our cognitive biases and inefficiencies somehow trump our free will and freedom. But then again, I have my own biases.


It's supposed to be an accessible version of "Heuristics and Biases". Saying Kahneman is pop psych... Well if you think so, then we should consider anything in psychology to be "pop".


Another issue I take with the work is the certainty in talking about the analysis of his experiments. Phrases like "we now know..." are used often.

For instance, one experiment shows that frowning can have effects on your disposition. As an experiment, a subject is told to hold a pencil in their mouth in a certain way as to unknowingly produce a frown or smile and then do some task. The difference between behaviors is then attributed to smiling or frowning, as though the only thing going on with a pencil awkwardly in your mouth is the smiling or frowning.

Maybe I do view all psychology in a negative way but I imagine I find it distasteful the same way (I imagine) most people find the study of IQ differences among races distasteful. Is this a valid field of study? I don't know and I don't care to know because the racist overtones are so strong.

Unfortunately psychology, especially 'pop' psychology has been used to deny people their free will and restrict freedoms.

It goes along with an overall trend of the sciences to rely more and more on statistical methods which I find troubling.


Would you find What Intelligence Tests Miss - Psychology of Rational Thought by Keith Stanovich more convincing?


Oh give me a break, it's probably one of the most well corroborated pieces of research in that tradition.


I've finally started reading the book after reading about it on every corner. I'm halfway through and it's really good. A lot of information without unneeded fluff.


Most useful book I've ever read, period. Changed the way I think about decisions and influenced how I think about building products.


Along the same lines is Moral Tribes by Joshua Greene. I learned a huge amount about the human condition from that book.




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