Living In A Post-Kahneman World

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Here is an excerpt from Sam Mcnerney on living in a post-Kahneman world followed by a little something on books mentioned in the post which include; Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman and The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande.

Imagine sitting in a laboratory with your brain connected to a computer. You’re in a rigid chair, waiting patiently, when a scientist walks into the room and offers you a deal. “In just a few seconds, I can upload everything psychologists know about human judgment, including a complete list of biases and how they undermine rational thinking, into your mind. All I need is your permission.”

There is a good argument for saying “No. Absolutely not.”

In the early 2000s, the psychologists Emily Pronin at Princeton and Lee Ross at Stanford conducted a series of studies that examined what happens when you ask people to evaluate themselves and then teach them about self-serving biases. Psychologists have known for years that most people believe they are above average in terms of just about every measurable trait—sociability, humor, intelligence, driving skills—but Pronin and Ross wanted to know if telling people about their egocentric habits would deflate their sense of self. It’s like saying, “OK, now that you know 95 percent of people believe they are above-average, would you like to amend anything you just said about yourself?”

Across many studies, Pronin and Ross found that self-ratings were unaffected by the news. It was as if someone from the Flat-Earth society was sent to the International Space Station, peeked out the window, and concluded that our planet was indeed flat.

It’s been four years since Nobel-Prize winner Daniel Kahneman, professor of psychology and public affairs at Princeton University, published Thinking, Fast and Slow, a book that documents nearly forty years of research in the many ways we make poor decisions. Kahneman, along with his late partner Amos Tversky, showed that contrary to the economic model of human nature, we’re prone to a suite of biases that systematically distort how we perceive the world.

Given what we know about how people react when they learn about biases, it’s worth wondering if popular books outlining how we screw up, including Thinking, Fast and Slow, may not only fail to change behavior but even instill overconfidence. It’s very easy to conclude, just as the participants in Pronin and Ross’ study did, that learning about biases makes us immune to them, as if they are something we can permanently fix.

We used to think that the hard part of the question “How do I improve judgment?” had to do with understanding judgment. But it may have more to do with understanding the environment in which we make decisions. Many researchers now believe, to varying degrees, that in order make better decisions, we’ve got to redesign the environment around our foibles instead of simply listing them.

See full article here.

Thinking, Fast and Slow – Description

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Major New York Times bestseller

Winner of the National Academy of Sciences Best Book Award in 2012

Selected by the New York Times Book Review as one of the best books of 2011

A Globe and Mail Best Books of the Year 2011 Title

One of The Economist‘s 2011 Books of the Year

One of The Wall Street Journal‘s Best Nonfiction Books of the Year 2011

2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient

In the international bestseller, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, the renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. The impact of overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning our next vacation–each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems shape our judgments and decisions.

Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives–and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble. Winner of the National Academy of Sciences Best Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and selected by The New York Times Book Review as one of the ten best books of 2011, Thinking, Fast and Slow is destined to be a classic.

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right – Description

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande

In his latest bestseller, Atul Gawande shows what the simple idea of the checklist reveals about the complexity of our lives and how we can deal with it.

The modern world has given us stupendous know-how. Yet avoidable failures continue to plague us in health care, government, the law, the financial industry—in almost every realm of organized activity. And the reason is simple: the volume and complexity of knowledge today has exceeded our ability as individuals to properly deliver it to people—consistently, correctly, safely. We train longer, specialize more, use ever-advancing technologies, and still we fail. Atul Gawande makes a compelling argument that we can do better, using the simplest of methods: the checklist. In riveting stories, he reveals what checklists can do, what they can’t, and how they could bring about striking improvements in a variety of fields, from medicine and disaster recovery to professions and businesses of all kinds. And the insights are making a difference. Already, a simple surgical checklist from the World Health Organization designed by following the ideas described here has been adopted in more than twenty countries as a standard for care and has been heralded as “the biggest clinical invention in thirty years” (The Independent).

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

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