“Brilliant. . . . Lewis has given us a spectacular account of two great men who faced up to uncertainty and the limits of human reason.” —William Easterly, Wall Street Journal
Forty years ago, Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky wrote a series of breathtakingly original papers that invented the field of behavioral economics. One of the greatest partnerships in the history of science, Kahneman and Tversky’s extraordinary friendship incited a revolution in Big Data studies, advanced evidence-based medicine, led to a new approach to government regulation, and made much of Michael Lewis’s own work possible. In The Undoing Project, Lewis shows how their Nobel Prize–winning theory of the mind altered our perception of reality.
Lewis (Flash Boys) deftly explores a timeless and fascinating subject human decision-making through the intellectually intimate collaboration of two influential psychologists, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. The pair met in 1969 and worked together until a few years before Tversky's death in 1996. As Lewis explains, they discovered that people do not make decisions as economists long believed as "intuitive statisticians" but rather in a chaotic fashion shot through with confirmation bias, fears of regret, sensitivity to change, the desire to avoid loss, and a propensity to mentally undo distressing outcomes. Through interviews with Tversky and Kahneman's friends, family, colleagues, rivals, and critics, as well as the psychologists' own recollections, letters, and published papers, Lewis seamlessly pieces together an informative and engagingly paced story. He begins with a step-by-step explanation of why both human minds and statistical models so often fail to produce the best choice. He then interweaves the psychologists' early lives, military service in defense of the young state of Israel, and professorial careers in both Israel and the United States with their questions, theories, and startling conclusions about how people actually make decisions. Lewis' latest effort is a joy to read, packed with "aha!" moments, telling and at times hilarious details, and elegant explanations of complex experiments and theories.
Good Overview of Research by Kahnemann & Tversky
Michael Lewis is a very good and compelling writer. He puts together the broad outlines of the amazing research carried out by these two psychologists.
The personal elements are fascinating and compelling, and these are clearly two very interesting and complex people.
Lewis also presents some of the basics of their findings and makes clear why their work has had such a significant impact.
I strongly encourage anyone anyone who finds this book interesting to read Kahnemann's "Thinking Fast and Slow". This is a long read, but it lays out the broad sweep of two lifetimes of original and creative thinking and is well worth the time it takes to read and study.
So kudos to Michael Lewis for switching from the degenerates of the financial world to humans who have made important contributions to our understanding of ourselves.