Sunday, February 10, 2013

Book review: Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Recently, I was quite worried that I was writing too many book reviews, and that I should spend more time on other topics.  However, I have come to the startling realization that I haven't written a review since September.

So, I've decided to review Daniel Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow, partially because I saw it on display in the bookshop, and partially because it was released fairly recently, so reviewing it seems slightly less passé.

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
(my own photo)
Kahneman's book is based on the idea that while humans are traditionally seen as rational creatures, we do a lot of irrational things.  So far so obvious, but Kahneman does more than just give a list of all the most illogical things we do. His book focuses on psychological research into heuristics, or mental shortcuts, and how they sometimes cause us to make poor decisions.  Much of the research is his own, but it's not the sole focus of the book.

It's really interesting to have someone writing about their own research.  Books that are this accessible to the lay reader are generally written by science writers.  While there is nothing wrong with that, I enjoyed the fact that we got it "straight from the horses mouth".

As I mentioned, the book is aimed at the lay reader, and the language is straightforward.  At the same time, I never got the sense that it was oversimplified or dumbed-down.  Kahneman seems very conscious that his work does have practical implications, and he is very keen to highlight them.

Overall, I thought it was a brilliant book.

That being said, I think that Part IV: Choices dragged a little bit.  It was probably due to the fact that the examples used were so similar, which meant I had several bouts of déjà vu.

Chances of finding it in my imaginary bookstore? 65%