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The Undoing Project: A Friendship That…

The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds (original 2016; edition 2016)

by Michael Lewis (Author)

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4452323,513 (3.74)17
Title:The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds
Authors:Michael Lewis (Author)
Info:W. W. Norton & Company (2016), Edition: 1, 368 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds by Michael Lewis (2016)

  1. 30
    Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (Stbalbach)
    Stbalbach: About Kahneman's early days working with Tversky on cognitive biases, his work on prospect theory, and his later work on happiness.

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Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, who trained as psychologists, have become famous for their work describing how the human mind works, particularly in how it sometimes deceives itself. I would call them “intellectuals” though rather than "psychologists" because their ideas have permeated diverse fields such as economics, decision theory, law, medicine, political policy, and even sports. Kahneman received a Nobel Prize in economics; Tversky probably would have shared the award, had he survived. Nobel Prizes are not awarded posthumously.

The two friends and colleagues explored many patterns in thought by which human beings deceive themselves, from over-generalizing good assessments about a person based on one particular positive aspect, to deducing a cause and effect relationship between things that may just be randomly coincident in time or place.

Perhaps their biggest contribution was to debunk the reigning economic theory that rational decision-making guides human decision making. Their work led to the now ascendant field of behavioral economics, represented most prominently by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein. [See, for example, the book Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics by Richard Thaler.]

Their work was also summarized and popularized in Kahneman’s best seller, Thinking, Fast and Slow, which I also recently reviewed.

Michael Lewis has written a book that combines the biographies of the two men; the story of the long-lived and sometimes tempestuous relationship between them (Lewis calls it "a love story"); and an explanation of their work and how it impacted other fields. Lewis is an excellent writer who is able to digest and explicate Tversky’s and Kahneman’s sometimes difficult and arcane ideas. Moreover, he is able to make the reader care about the two protagonists as people as well as the source of important concepts. His concluding chapter, especially the last paragraph, is particularly moving.

(JAB) ( )
  nbmars | Jun 12, 2017 |
The Undoing Project contains many charms, and chief among these is its full and intimate description of the friendship between Danny Kahneman and Amos Tversky. These are the two pioneering psychologists who revolutionized decision theory and demonstrated its effect on economic thought. In Mr. Kahneman’s case, it led to the Nobel Prize in economics.

Michael Lewis tells his story with the enthusiasm of a newcomer to the subject. And these two innovative thinkers, who rattled the cages of the academic establishment in both psychology and economics, deserves this bight and spritely telling. The title refers to the emotional tug a person feels in the midst of regret - often people have the impulse to change an unfortunate circumstance or fact of their lives, because of its unpleasant consequences.

We follow the joint careers of Tversky and Kahneman as they discover each other: they become inseparable friends while performing a wholesale revamp of economic behavioral theory. They eventually drift apart, professional jealousy playing a small and perhaps misunderstood role in their separation. This book excels in its portrayal of the progress of their joint thought. It does a good job of showing just how revolutionary their thoughts were, and the consternation they generated in the economics community. ( )
  LukeS | May 23, 2017 |
22. The Undoing Project : A Friendship That Changed Our Minds (Audio) by Michael Lewis
reader: Dennis Boutsikaris
published: 2016
format: Overdrive digital audio, 10:21
acquired: Library
read: May 1-10
rating: 3½

Lewis does a lot of interesting and fun things with this book. He has a fascinating chapter on the long time Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey and his mixed record in the NBA draft. And then he takes us to the foundation of Israel and its military and the foundations of a new field of psychology, one born within the intertwined, interdependent, and complicated friendship of two groundbreaking Israeli psychologists, Daniel Kahneman, and Amos Tversky. Kahneman I had heard of because he wrote a popular book I tried to listen to - Thinking Fast and Slow (ultimately I found it dull and quit...oops). He also has a Nobel Prize, in economics.

The book is about the friendship.

Somehow I'm a little disappointed in that. Certainly the unique nature of the Tversky/Kahneman was fascinating. But the book left me thinking about the workings of our mind and I wanted more on that. And, I wanted to go back to Morey and see how it all played out for him. Instead Lewis took me through the strains in the Tversky/Kahneman relationship, each a complicated personality, and kind of genius, each needing the other, but ultimately chaffing on something that wasn't quite jealously, but still personal disappointment. Lewis compares it to marriage.

Michael Lewis is good at writing fun books that make you think. This is the third book of his I've read and they have been terrific in that way.
  dchaikin | May 12, 2017 |
A beutiful book about why we make the decisions we make. Also, an examination of a platonic love affair. Beautiful written. ( )
  ZephyrusW | May 9, 2017 |
An interesting read about two Jewish men who transformed psychology. Some interesting information, but maybe a bit too much on the relationship between the two. Lewis does a good job telling a difficult story. ( )
  addunn3 | May 4, 2017 |
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Lewis is the ideal teller of the story. [...] But he is also a vastly better raconteur than most other writers playing the explication game. You laugh when you read his books. You see his protagonists in three dimensions — deeply likable, but also flawed, just like most of your friends and family.

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michael Lewisprimary authorall editionscalculated
Boutsikaris, DennisReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393254593, Hardcover)

Best-selling author Michael Lewis examines how a Nobel Prize–winning theory of the mind altered our perception of reality.

Forty years ago, Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky wrote a series of breathtakingly original studies undoing our assumptions about the decision-making process. Their papers showed the ways in which the human mind erred, systematically, when forced to make judgments about uncertain situations. Their work created the field of behavioral economics, revolutionized Big Data studies, advanced evidence-based medicine, led to a new approach to government regulation, and made much of Michael Lewis’s own work possible. Kahneman and Tversky are more responsible than anybody for the powerful trend to mistrust human intuition and defer to algorithms.

The Undoing Project is about the fascinating collaboration between two men who have the dimensions of great literary figures. They became heroes in the university and on the battlefield―both had important careers in the Israeli military―and their research was deeply linked to their extraordinary life experiences. In the process they may well have changed, for good, mankind’s view of its own mind.

(retrieved from Amazon Sat, 18 Jun 2016 18:51:38 -0400)

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