Troy Media – by Faith Wood
I have to admit that
I found Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman to be, well, mostly slow. I wanted to like it; I wanted to be interested and attentive; I wanted to find meaning in the text, but instead I found myself easily distracted, constantly struggling to stay on task. Perhaps what I wanted to do was stop reading and what I decided to do was struggle through to the end.
How do we guard against jumping to ineffective conclusions (the book will surely become more interesting as I read) while focused on what we want to do (stop reading and do something more entertaining)? I hoped for the answer to this puzzle and so much more.
A tedious read
Unfortunately, for me, Kahneman missed the mark. I found his 418 pages to be tedious and slow reading, an exhaustive expose of Kahneman’s research and work over the past decade. It felt a bit like I was sitting in a boring lecture trying desperately to stay awake because I liked the professor.
Essentially, Kahneman poses a hypothesis about the inner workings of the brain. Normally, this alone would intrigue me. He explains that we (human beings) operate from two defined systems of thinking: System 1 is quick and intuitive, and System 2 is slower and more logical. He goes on to explain that we ought not to trust that quick, intuitive thinking style unless we have developed considerable experience and predictability with the subject matter and the environment in which we find ourselves. However, this is nothing new and continues to be of great debate when calculating risk assessments, particularly in emergency situations where rapid fire thinking is a ‘must have’ resource.
Synthesizing decades of his research, as well as that of colleagues, Kahneman lays out a lot of research in the science of human decision-making – a map of the mind that resembles a finely tuned machine with, alas, some notable trapdoors and faulty wiring.
When I first saw how large the book was, I was hopeful that, within its pages, I would find some revelations as to how to trust our intuition and influence more accurate rapid decision making. I hoped for some science that would encourage me to rethink my perspectives and challenge me to activate cleverer thought patterns. Instead, I fought distraction and connection. Perhaps a study of economics and algorithms in human behavior is not what I expected.
Not that there was not some good content in the pages, but I didn’t find anything particularly new. “Yes”, we have a natural aversion to loss and risk. “Yes”, our intuition can sometimes be wrong and “Yes”, when emotions and immediate timely feedback are activated simultaneously, we remember the lessons longer. Perhaps these three take-ways sum it all up the best – from 481 pages to two sentences.
For what it’s worth, I didn’t love this book, but I didn’t hate it either.
Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, Macmillan, 2011.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Faith Wood is an internationally recognized behavioural strategist. She is the author of Life under the Limbo Bar.