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

by Michael Lewis (Author)

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1,353499,959 (3.85)37
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 in 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 a compelling 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. Amos Tversky was a brilliant, self-confident warrior and extrovert, the center of rapt attention in any room; Kahneman, a fugitive from the Nazis in his childhood, was an introvert whose questing self-doubt was the seedbed of his ideas. They became one of the greatest partnerships in the history of science, working together so closely that they couldn't remember whose brain originated which ideas, or who should claim credit. They flipped a coin to decide the lead authorship on the first paper they wrote, and simply alternated thereafter.This story about the workings of the human mind is explored through the personalities of two fascinating individuals so fundamentally different from each other that they seem unlikely friends or colleagues. In the process they may well have changed, for good, mankind's view of its own mind.… (more)
Member:Archmerk
Title:The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds
Authors:Michael Lewis (Author)
Info:W. W. Norton & Company (2016), Edition: 1st Edition, 368 pages
Collections:Books, Your library
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The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds by Michael Lewis (2016)

Recently added bysbarrios93, afkendrick, private library, Mike_B, Deborama, MenloPark, bgeffert, rachelreading
  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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» See also 37 mentions

English (47)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (49)
Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
I found this book both motivating and frustrating. I enjoyed getting to know Amos Tversky and Danny Kahneman and learning about their accomplishments. They were unique, albeit flawed individuals, and therefore human. What they did and what they accomplished in their lives was astounding. So much of what they accomplished they did together, as intimate collaborators, and neither would have accomplished alone. They changed the way we think about how humans think, and I am motivated by their story to learn more. I have always thought of myself as very logical and yet have felt that I can rely at times too much on my intuition; this story made me realize I needed to learn more about my tendencies. Anyone have suggestions of a complementary book for me?

I recognize that this book was about Tversky’s and Kahneman’s discoveries, but I often found myself frustrated by the focus on the process by which they came by their discoveries and felt there was not enough clarity around what the discoveries actually were; I did not get a good understanding of the discoveries and how they altered our knowledge and understanding of the time. I have read several of Michael Lewis’ books, and I am finding I consistently come away with that feeling. He is so focused on trying to create an engaging narrative that I don’t get some of the basic information I want. In pursuing that narrative, Lewis also seems to jump to other characters and storylines without providing the reader a sense of where he is going and how it fits into the whole. A good story that for me could have been better told. ( )
  afkendrick | Oct 24, 2020 |
I don't often go down to 3 stars but I have on this one. I say that because I am picky and tend make my book choices based on what others have said about a book or author, both friends and strangers. I had read a few good write ups about this book and was looking forward to reading it.

However, for me, it didn't pan out as well as I expected. I couldn't quote work out what it was, was it a biography or an elongated article in New Scientist? Not that definitions are overly important but having some kind of framework when reading a book quite of helps to get closer to what the author is trying to get across. If you are reading a biography but think it’s a thriller then you will get the kind of feeling that I had when reading this. There's lots of detail about the mens lives both personal and academic but it doesn't reveal much other than itself. And the long tracts about their work is both interesting and revealing but then what?

I apologise if this seems garbled but that was kinda how I felt in this, I have not read any other reviews of this book, apart from initial write ups that introduced me to it, so I have no idea if it is just me.

Either way, good luck if you give it a go. ( )
  Ken-Me-Old-Mate | Sep 24, 2020 |
There are two authors of non-fiction books who have never once disappointed me. They write books about topics which I know are not going to be interesting, or about a subject I know I won't care about, yet every sing time, I come away dazzled, impressed, surprised and delighted. Those two authors are Michael Lewis and Malcom Gladwell. In December I read books by them both, and in a strange and unexpected way, both of the books enlightened and enhanced each other.

The book by Lewis (The Undoing Project) deals with two Israeli psychologists who used data and statistics to understand how people actually think and process ideas and how it isn't the way we thought. The use of statistical analysis by psychologists was a new thing, but an important one. And you do not need to know any math to understand this book.

Gladwell, in his book 'Talking to Strangers' exams the thought processes we use when speak/talking with people we don't know, and how the way we do this very very often ends with false conclusions and bad judgements. This impacts our daily interactions, but it is far worse when this occurs when it involves police officers or judges who end up making very bad judgements as a result. He looks at some well known incidents where this problem was disastrous.

Both books are easily worth 5 stars, both books enhance each other, and both books should be read/listened to by everyone. ( )
  JohnKaess | Jul 23, 2020 |
To me, this book is far less about discovering how psychological factors influence economics or anything like that, and much more about criticising every choice you make, whatever subject it is about: choosing your partner, the right job candidate, connecting dots in every way, or...basketball pros. From the book:

People who didn’t know Daryl Morey assumed that because he had set out to intellectualize basketball he must also be a know-it-all. In his approach to the world he was exactly the opposite. He had a diffidence about him—an understanding of how hard it is to know anything for sure. The closest he came to certainty was in his approach to making decisions. He never simply went with his first thought. He suggested a new definition of the nerd: a person who knows his own mind well enough to mistrust it.

Hence, Mr. Morey decided to start questioning things more:

The limits of any model invited human judgment back into the decision-making process—whether it helped or not. And thus began a process of Morey trying as hard as he’d ever tried at anything in his life to blend subjective human judgment with his model. The trick wasn’t just to build a better model. It was to listen both to it and to the scouts at the same time. “You have to figure out what the model is good and bad at, and what humans are good and bad at,” said Morey. Humans sometimes had access to information that the model did not, for instance. Models were bad at knowing that DeAndre Jordan sucked his freshman year in college because he wasn’t trying. Humans were bad at . . . well, that was the subject Daryl Morey now needed to study more directly.

This is where some of our human fallacies come into play:

The mere fact that a player physically resembled some currently successful player could be misleading. A decade ago a six-foot-two-inch, light-skinned, mixed-race guy who had gone unnoticed by major colleges in high school and so played for some obscure tiny college, and whose main talent was long-range shooting, would have had no obvious appeal. The type didn’t exist in the NBA—at least not as a raging success. Then Stephen Curry came along and set the NBA on fire, led the Golden State Warriors to an NBA championship, and was everyone’s most valuable player. Suddenly—just like that—all these sharp-shooting mixed-race guards were turning up for NBA job interviews and claiming that their game was a lot like Stephen Curry’s; and they were more likely to get drafted because of the resemblance. “For five years after we drafted Aaron Brooks, we saw so many kids who compared themselves to Aaron. Because there are so many little guards.” Morey’s solution was to forbid all intraracial comparison. “We’ve said, ‘If you want to compare this player to another player, you can only do it if they are a different race.’” If the player in question was African American, for instance, the talent evaluator was only allowed to argue that “he is like so-and-so” if so-and-so was white or Asian or Hispanic or Inuit or anything other than black. A funny thing happened when you forced people to cross racial lines in their minds: They ceased to see analogies. Their minds resisted the leap. “You just don’t see it,” said Morey. Maybe the mind’s best trick of all was to lead its owner to a feeling of certainty about inherently uncertain things. Over and again in the draft you saw these crystal-clear pictures form in the minds of basketball experts which later proved a mirage. The picture in virtually every professional basketball scout’s mind of Jeremy Lin, for instance. The now world-famous Chinese American shooting guard graduated from Harvard in 2010 and entered the NBA draft. “He lit up our model,” said Morey. “Our model said take him with, like, the 15th pick in the draft.” The objective measurement of Jeremy Lin didn’t square with what the experts saw when they watched him play: a not terribly athletic Asian kid. Morey hadn’t completely trusted his model—and so had chickened out and not drafted Lin. A year after the Houston Rockets failed to draft Jeremy Lin, they began to measure the speed of a player’s first two steps: Jeremy Lin had the quickest first move of any player measured. He was explosive and was able to change direction far more quickly than most NBA players. “He’s incredibly athletic,” said Morey. “But the reality is that every fucking person, including me, thought he was unathletic. And I can’t think of any reason for it other than he was Asian.”

The above is culled from the very beginning of this book, which is not your average pop-scientific, stats-that-make-you-go-wow book; personally, I care not for economics or anything like that. Not at all.

However, at its core is lovely writing about the strange and extremely beauteous friendship between Danny Kahneman and Amos Tversky. Both were very different as persons, but as such, they came together and created some great theorems into which I won't delve due to the spoiler-ish nature of that, along with the fact that I could simply not do that stuff justice by describing it. If you feel the need to be properly and sweetly overwhelmed with geeky stuff that's psychology intertwined into choices made—much á la the Oscar-winning film "A Beautiful Mind", although this book makes science come alive in even more profound ways than the simplistic film did—just read this book.

Something that Tversky's son said kind of defines both Tversky and Kahneman:

“He loved people,” said his son Oren. “He just didn’t like social norms.” A lot of things that most human beings would never think to do, to Amos simply made sense. For instance, when he wanted to go for a run he . . . went for a run. No stretching, no jogging outfit or, for that matter, jogging: He’d simply strip off his slacks and sprint out his front door in his underpants and run as fast as he could until he couldn’t run anymore. “Amos thought people paid an enormous price to avoid mild embarrassment,” said his friend Avishai Margalit, “and he himself decided very early on it was not worth it.”

I strongly recommend that you read this book. If not for the science and wow if that, then for a fantastically well-written story about two persons and their lives together. This is a lovely, heartwarming read. ( )
  pivic | Mar 21, 2020 |
This is a mindbender. The ideas presented will have to be revisited. But I could do without revisiting the emotions felt while learning about Danny and Amos. ( )
  Jerry.Yoakum | Mar 20, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
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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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 in 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 a compelling 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. Amos Tversky was a brilliant, self-confident warrior and extrovert, the center of rapt attention in any room; Kahneman, a fugitive from the Nazis in his childhood, was an introvert whose questing self-doubt was the seedbed of his ideas. They became one of the greatest partnerships in the history of science, working together so closely that they couldn't remember whose brain originated which ideas, or who should claim credit. They flipped a coin to decide the lead authorship on the first paper they wrote, and simply alternated thereafter.This story about the workings of the human mind is explored through the personalities of two fascinating individuals so fundamentally different from each other that they seem unlikely friends or colleagues. In the process they may well have changed, for good, mankind's view of its own mind.

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