Book Review: Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman


I picked up the book Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman while wandering around an airport waiting for a flight. I was looking for my next read, and out of the Top 10 books displayed in a store, this one stood out to me. I had seen it before and its title intrigued me.


What sold me were the reviews on the covers that talked about the book changing one's thoughts and choices. "I am in need of that.", I said to myself. So I picked it up and got to reading it the next day.

To be honest, I thought this was going to be a straightforward, inspirational read that will change my mindset and therefore the choices I make.


This book is not that at all. It's been the most complex and difficult one I've read in a long time or perhaps ever. It is long, technical and difficult, with studies upon studies described and analyzed to prove its conclusions; a book to be read when your mind is awake and open to acquiring new and thorough knowledge.


With that being said, it presented me with ideas and new takes on concepts that I'd been taking for granted and never questioned before. The major takeaway I took from this book is that us people are not as rational as we might think. That challenges what I considered to be a fact of life.


Its title, Thinking, Fast and Slow is based on Daniel Kahneman's idea that our mind has two different systems: System 1, the intuitive one which does the fast and mostly wrong thinking and System 2, the more effortful one which does the slow, more complex but reasonable thinking, and fact-checks System 1. Kahneman uses studies to explain how these two systems work and challenge the idea of human rationalism.

To explore topics relating to heuristics, biases, overconfidence, and choices, he uses two fictitious species with two ways of thinking: the Econs, who live in the land of theory and the Humans, who act in the real world.

Finally, he introduces the idea of two selves, one being the experiencing self which does the living, and the other being the remembering self which keeps score and makes the choices, in order to show how we as humans rationalize.


The whole point of the studies presented and ideas demonstrated in this book is to say that the choices we make are not often based on reason. We do not make the wisest choices because we do not think statistically and logically, but rather intuitively, using the information that is easily remembered and quickly comes to mind. This makes us irrational by default.


Here are some of the reviews that drew me to this book:


- "Buy it fast. Read it slowly. It will change the way you think!" Richard Thaler, author of Nudge

- "A lifetime's worth of wisdom" Steven D. Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics

- "A masterpiece. This is one of the greatest and most engaging collections of insights into the human mind I have read" Financial Times

- "There may be no other person on the planet who better understands how and why we make the choices we make" Steven D. Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics

- "A major intellectual event...a crucial pivot point in the way we see ourselves" The New York Times


If you're curious to learn more about how our minds work and how foolish we can sometimes be when making choices, then Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman is for you.

This book studies the mind, which is a predictably unpredictable wonder.


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