Sunday, August 6, 2017

Book Report: Thinking, Fast and Slow

Daniel Kahneman’s New York Times Bestseller, Thinking, Fast and Slow, is broken down into five parts. In the first part of his novel, Kahneman’s goal is to “introduce a language for thinking and talking about the mind” (Kahnman 13) in which he breaks down the two systems of the mind pertaining to how we think and judge. Humans have the ability to quite literally think either fast and automatically or slow and controlled. System 1 is our brain’s natural automaticity while System 2 is our brain’s more attentive and effortful means of thinking and reacting. In the second part of the novel, Kahneman details the impact of hearing and seeing statistics. Our automatic system of the brain does not take well to the understanding of statistics, which forces most of us to accepted what we hear if it is presented in a fashionable manner. Part three explains our brain’s involuntary tendency to be overconfident and rely on premonitions as explanations for the occurrences of certain events. We give ourselves too much credit thinking we know more about the past and how the world works when, in reality, most of what we think we know is an illusion of validity. Part four of Kahneman’s novel details the brain’s relationship with choice and risk. The differences between risk aversion and risk seeking are detailed through the Loss Aversion heuristic which claims that our brain tends to focus greatly on avoiding loss before gambling for what could result in gain. In the final part of Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman discusses the variances between our remembering self and our experiencing self and the reasons why the interests of both of these selves often conflict one another. 
With all of these things to delve into deeper, my favorite parts were what I considered to be the most simple. Kahneman stressed the importance of understanding how System 1 and System 2 of our brain’s operate and communicate before getting lost in the more intricate details of how our brain's function. What interested me more specifically was how and why the two systems conflict with one another. I really enjoy solving riddles and puzzles, so once I saw a puzzle provided by Kahneman to explain this inner-conflict, I was intrigued. While completing the task provided for you below, I thought back to a game that I used to play on my Nintendo DS as a little kid called “Brain Age.” One of the puzzles from this video game was to say the color that a word is written in quickly as it appeared on the screen for only a brief time. The tricky part was that every word was a color that was written in a different color. System 1 of our brain thinks impulsively, so it’s no surprise that I would spend a lot of time responding incorrectly to each puzzle as you will most likely do if you chose to challenge yourself with a similar game in the YouTube link provided below. The point of tasks like these are to engage System 2 and focus on controlling the overpowering intuition that comes impulsively from System 1. Kahneman does a great job with explaining how these silly experiments are support real life examples of the conflict between our systems such as when we are driving during a snowstorm and skid on ice. We are taught to steer into the spin and avoid hitting the brakes, but we are likely to listen to our panicking System 1 by doing what feels natural in the moment, which would be to slam on the breaks and attempt to steer out of the skid. Our universal lack to pay System 2 it's required attention is something we can fix. It feels good to have a clear understanding of why we do what we do in certain situations and to know that we can be in control if we just tap into our system of self-control and challenge ourselves. Try giving your System 2 the spotlight for once with these tricky tasks: 

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