Daniel Kahnmen opens the book by declaring that he wishes to improve the chit-chat around “proverbial office water-cooler,” to give the working populace “intelligent gossip” with a rich vocabulary; but the achievement and scope of this book is something far greater.
The reason this book is so dense is because Kahneman introduces many of the ideas, papers and theories that have made him a leading figure in the world of psychology through the decades. Not only that, he interpolates them with his various collaborators and various other intellectual’s ideas, spelling out how they intermingle to form a better understanding of the human mind and human behaviour. The book spans vast subjects within distinct fields of psychology, economics and sociology, and for those reasons it is important to spell out precisely what the book contains and the way in which we are going to navigate it in this review.
The book is split into five parts.
Part One––examines the two main systems of operation in the brain.
Part Two––Looks at the “systematic errors” of the two systems, also known as biases or “judgement heuristics.”
Part Three––Concerns “the difficulty of statistical thinking,” or, why we are overconfident in decisions.
Part Four––Kahneman relates these ideas to “Prospect Theory” which appeared at the genesis of the field of Behavioral Economics and goes some way to rebut the “rational actor” theory.
Part Five––Examines the “two selves”: the experiencing self and the remembering self. And explores how they work to distort our judgment.
So, let us begin with the two fundamental operating systems of the mind which largely underpins the book...
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