Monday, August 8, 2022

Thinking Fast and Slow Book Report

    General Overview:

     For our classes book report, I decided to read Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. I chose this book because after reading the excerpt I learned it was all about the different shortcuts that our brain takes to help us through everyday situations. I think heuristics are super interesting because a majority of the time, these quick solutions we find to problems turn out to be drastically wrong. That is the main concept of this novel, the author divides the different parts of our brain into two distinct characters, System 1 and System 2. System 1 represents the fast thinking that we often use to solve every day easy problems (even if the answers that it provides are wrong). System 2 is the character that represents the slower more accurate approach to thinking that we are only able to use when System 1 is incapable of coming up with a response. Each section goes into how these characters react in so many different situations from how we approach math problems to how we think when asked to find similarities between different words in a series. 

Favorite Part

    My favorite part in the book cannot be confined to just one specific section. Throughout the novel there are several little mental challenges. One of the specific little challenges was "If a ball and a bat cost $1.10 and the bat costs one dollar more than the ball, how much does the bat cost?" instinctively most people would answer that the bat must cost $1 because that is how our System 1 uses its quick thinking, however, the answer is actually that the bat costs $1.05 and the ball costs 5 cents. There are many different little challenges like this and it was actually super interesting to me to be fooled by the problem at first and then get to read a little explanation about why I was fooled and what the correct answer to the problem actually is. 


    This book is a great way to capture the main point of this course (just without all of the very fun topics we discussed). The whole point of the book is obviously about fast thinking versus slow thinking which is the basis for this course. It teaches us how our fast thinking System 1 is quick to make judgements and come to incorrect conclusions about things because we fail to use our slow thinking System 2 to look at the actual facts and we just blindly accept the information presented to us. In situations like having a psychic try to connect you to your relatives who have passed on, we are inclined to believe that they really are communicating with the dead because we WANT to be able to speak to our loved ones who have passed, because we already want to believe it we ignore mistakes they make and only listen to the correct information that they tell us. If we were able to approach this from a System 2 slow thinking perspective we would be thinking critically and not letting our emotions effect our thought process, we would be more inclined to point out mistakes made and would not be swayed as easily.


    I decided to include these two videos because I think they help show the main concepts of the novel in a more in depth, yet interesting way. The first one is full of tips that can help you to think more critically about the decisions you make. A lot of the decisions we make are driven by our System 1's fast thinking mind and can often be careless, when we think critically our System 2 takes over and we able to weigh the costs and benefits of things and really get a better idea of the decision we are about to make. 

    The second video goes into a deeper look at a paper that Daniel Kahneman had published with a colleague before writing this novel. A lot of what was discussed in the paper had been reiterated in the book. This video also features some of the questions that were throughout the novel that get you to think quickly and often times end up wrong about your answer.


    While I find this book very interesting and I think that it is helpful to have this information to not be so easily persuaded by things that are very obviously untrue when you take a little bit of time to really examine them, but I do not think that this book would really solve any real world problems. Our brains are just programmed to run the way that they do, even if they make us seem really stupid sometimes. I also think that a lot of people wouldn't be inclined to accept this information because a lot of the book did kind of make me feel a little bit dumb. Most people do not want to feel like they are incorrect about the world around them and a book that basically comes out and says "hey you are wrong about a lot of things in your life" is kind of off putting. Personally, after reading this I am going to try to implement some of the things I have learned. For example, I think I will be taking the extra time needed to really examine any problems I am facing rather than just blindly accepting the first thing that comes to mind. It is a little bit upsetting that even though we know that we have these tendencies to make incorrect assumptions and just run with the incorrect answer that we really cannot do anything to fix it because it is just how our brain works. 

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