Review – Thinking, Fast and Slow

Posted September 18, 2016 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel KahnemanThinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman

This book is a well-respected one which has at its heart one main theory: that we have a certain amount of automatic routines in our brain which we rely on, as well as a more analytical way of thinking. The automatic routines are “fast” thinking, and they’ve served us well evolutionarily, allowing us to come to immediate conclusions in dangerous and ambiguous situations. The analytical way of thinking is “slow”, and correspondingly resource intensive, and we tend to only engage it when we have to.

So far, so good, and I don’t disagree with his findings and examples as generalisations. There’ll always be exceptions, for example being primed with the words “banana” and “vomit” does not make me associate bananas and vomit. Instead, I think about my lack of a gallbladder, because I know that a lot of the time when I’m sick, it’s nothing to do with the food I’ve eaten as such and just to do with the proportion of fat in it, thus meaning that I have learnt to de-associate food as a specific cause-and-effect for nausea. Tl;dr: exception that proves the rule. My routines have been rewritten to reflect my reality, and now that is the assumption I make when I’m thinking lazily.

The problem is that he goes into such excruciating detail of statistics, despite the fact that he knows from his own work that his readers have no intuitive grasp thereof — and me even less so, since numbers are a weak spot for me. And he uses examples based on the American educational system, which is also Greek (or Arabic) to me. And sometimes he’ll digress into discussing some theory from economics, leaving me frankly bored.

It’s worth reading, I think, but I might almost recommend you pick up one of the ‘thirty second’ or ‘simplified’ versions other people have written. The central thesis is fine, but the book drags on.

Rating: 3/5

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