Thinking - Fast and Slow
Daniel Kahneman

by

Nina Calhoun

Context

Introduction

Daniel Kahneman is undeniably one of the best authors today, with his astounding works shedding light on critical issues of what people face today. Kahneman’s book, Thinking, Fast and Slow sheds lights on the fundamental aspects of human sociology and cognitive physiognomies. The book’s essential parts take the form of several systems that Kahneman uses to ensure a significant coverage of matters about the human brain and thoughts formation. While there is a firm conviction among people that they know what goes on in their mind, Kahneman, through his book, makes significant attempts to elucidate the irrational functioning of the brain insofar as human thoughts are concerned. The book delineates the astounding biased operation of one’s mind by its capability to withhold diverse things severally and sometimes simultaneously.

Kahneman’s book covers, chiefly, the biases of intuition. Accordingly, more than often individuals are prone to make justified decisions based on some factors while their minds are functional. However, there is a general tendency of encountering several hitches, which disorient the manner in which one’s mind handles impressions and feelings. Kahneman seeks to extricate human errors of judgment that dwell within one’s mind, thereby providing useful tools of communication with which individuals can use to improve their ability to detect such inaccuracies. Uninformed opinion, as Kahneman finds, is highly likely to be an effect of the inability to identify errors in understanding. Thus, he proposes a diagnosis that if well carried out, can go a long way to enabling individuals to make sound decisions. This paper will shed light on Daniel Kahneman’s book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, and give a wide-ranging guide of the book as well as shed light on its other reviews from distinguished scholars.

Historical and Current Contexts of the Book

The book was first published in 2011 by Allen Lane in New York City, after which it gained worldwide recognition for its excellent knowledge as many readers found. Kahneman took in-depth research with the assistance of his counterpart Amos Tversky. The study took place for at least ten years, a period during which Kahneman recounts as the most significant during a gathering of his findings. As such, Kahneman’s book holds a significant level of accuracy and reliability as it depicts remarks and recommendations that are primarily based on real occurrences and intensive research. Kahneman liaised with Amos in conducting a survey in which case each one of them was assigned several duties. Amos gathered data from a group of expert participants, key among them renowned authors in the field of statistics. The results surprisingly depicted how poor were these professionals particularly in rendering knowledge to graduate students. Kahneman recounts in his book how amusing Amos was at their workplace, and it is this amusement that enabled them to generate a relationship that would ultimately lead to the development of a comprehensive book on intuitive thinking. Before the inception of the book, Amos and Kahneman had worked together in some articles on several matters.

The mode of the research was primarily conversation, whereby they generated questions from which they would draw intuitive answers. Each question translated to a minor experiment, and they would carry out several of them in a day. While the correct answer holds significance into understanding the functionality of the mind when thinking, the primary aim of such questions was to derive an intuitive explanation. The response that first came into one’s mind, regardless of whether it was right or wrong, was the author’s chief goal when stemming their claims. One of the most interesting findings in the study was that one’s intuitions had a considerable resemblance with a toddler during its early cognitive development stages and also depended on one’s cultural stereotype of a profession.

Kahneman’s book is a compilation of research findings obtained from more than a dozen comprehensive studies. The study entailed an exhaustive coverage and documenting of inherent thinking biases as observed from diverse activities. The duo then compiled the research’s significant findings and submitted them at a local journal called Science Magazine. The article, which later gave rise to the book, contained an elaborative content describing intuitive thinking as depicted by 20 particular biases. Further, the report challenged past assumptions regarding intuitive thinking. Principal among these assumptions is the long perceived that all people hold a significant amount of rationality. Another assumption that the article challenged was the belief that one’s rationality depends on emotions. The primary counter-argument that the report cited was the capability of individuals to have an error in reasoning as a result of the design of machinery of cognition rather than merely an interference of argument by emotions.

Critical Reason behind Writing the Book

Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow is a book that encompasses different motives that drove the writer towards incepting and accomplishing it. Kahneman recounts that his passion for writing the book began as early as 1969 when he was teaching at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. It is at this time that Kahneman met with his colleague and friend Amos Tversky. During their encounter in Jerusalem, the duo discussed several issues of intuitive thinking, and they resolved to expound on the matter. Amos had emphasized in a seminar that, indeed, one’s intuitions are relatively deficient. Kahneman was still in the field of statistics where most of his research findings, as he enumerates, were not so much based on proof as they were on subjective judgments. As a result, the two decided to conduct a study that would help them elucidate the mind’s intuition, especially for researchers.

Author’s Background

Daniel Kahneman is an American-based psychologist whose multiple works touch on psychology and decision-making. Kahneman has also written several books on behavioral economics, including his 2012 award-winning “Thinking, Fast and Slow.” Most of Kahneman’s work challenges the general perceptions of human rationality in defining the various issues that face the human race on a daily basis. The author was born in Tel Aviv in 1934 and spent most of his childhood in France where he stayed with his family until the death of his Father in 1944. Kahneman’s passion for psychology, as he recounts, was significantly affected by his encounters in Nazi-occupied France. In 1954, Kahneman obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The academic record secured him an occupation as a psychologist in the Israel Defense Forces.

Kahneman has an exemplary academic career which he acquired from his experience as a lecturer in various institutions in Israel and other parts of the world. During his experience as an instructor, Kahneman managed to make several publications in psychology. Also, his encounters as a lecturer in Jerusalem brought him closer to Amos Tversky, with whom he worked on numerous studies. Tversky significantly influenced Kahneman’s passion for judgment and decision making. As a result, they collaborated in various articles and peer-reviewed journals until 1978 when he left the Hebrew University. Kahneman also made a significant contribution to behavioral economics in cooperation with Tversky. It is in this period that the duo began working on the book, Thinking, Fast and Slow.

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