“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.
Excellent , Mind Warping Experience
I've read almost every book written by Michael Lewis and all have been thought provoking but this is the first that is "thought destroying". I deal with questions of judgement and decision making in uncertain conditions every day and have seen (and fallen prey) to many of the mistakes (or inaccuracies) in our thinking, expectations and "undoings". I would highly recommend this book to anyone that: wishes to understand themselves and their thinking more deeply, make better decisions, or perhaps have a competitive advantage in a business venture. One thing it will probably NOT help is building better relationships - most people will struggle with these concepts and some (like my wife) may see it as some type of indirect or Machiavellian approach to getting your way ("our human brain is flawed - let's try a better approach" does not go over very well). Still, I would rank this as Lewis' best, perhaps most meaningful, topic to date and that is the highest praise I can bestow.
A life-changing book
It’s rare to find a book that resonates so powerfully and effectively to oneself - subconsciously enhancing our ability to see beyond the norm. Sparking creativity, insight, a needed understanding of purpose, thought, plans, ideas, that may well be lying subconsciously within ourselves. This book is powerful. It provided me direction to see deeper into relationships, to my work, to life, to my individual intentions and aspirations, that I know I am capable of, but never considered. The narrative, the story, Michael Lewis beautifully illustrates throughout this book, can create a new life beyond what we think we are capable of obtaining. Read it all the way through and hopefully you too, shall agree.