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The undoing project : a friendship that changed our minds
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2017
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Reviews

Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Early on in bestselling Lewis' latest inquiry (Flash Boys, 2014; The Big Short, 2010), he appears to have hatched a hybrid of sorts: a biography of two gifted Israeli psychologists, Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, fused with a primer on the field of cognitive and mathematical psychology. But with each page, the book reveals itself as a radiant if cerebral romance about two brilliant minds, novel ideas, truth, country, and duty. The psychologists' personalities could not have been more different. Tversky was a charismatic genius, a fearless thinker and warrior who served his country as a paratrooper and platoon commander. Kahneman, who grew up in Nazi-occupied Paris and ended up serving as a psychologist for the Israel Defense Force, is portrayed as philosophical, continuously in need of approval by others, and possessing a depressive disposition. As opposite as these men seem to be, Lewis writes, "They'd become a single mind, creating ideas about why people did what they did, and cooking up odd experiments to test them." Tversky, in particular, was fascinated by "how people make decisions" and looked for ways to "undo" accepted theories of decision-making. Their intellectual synergy produced provocative and groundbreaking theories about the workings of the human mind, including the origin of biases and the mechanisms responsible for mental errors and for formulating judgments. They challenged intuition and gut instincts, relying instead on carefully constructed algorithms which invariably proved to be more reliable than expert opinions. Tversky and Kahneman's publications made psychology increasingly relevant to medicine, law, and public policy, while their treatise, Prospect Theory, became essential to the understanding of behavioral economics. Clear in its explanation of complex subjects, tantalizing and tender, Lewis' chronicle of a scientifically fruitful friendship reveals not only what made two talented intellects click, but also what makes the rest of us tick. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Lewis is an irresistible storyteller and a master at illuminating complicated and fascinating subjects and his fans will follow his lead, wherever he goes. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

PW Annex Reviews

Lewis (Flash Boys) deftly explores a timeless and fascinating subject—human decision-making—through the intellectually intimate collaboration of two influential psychologists, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. The pair met in 1969 and worked together until a few years before Tversky's death in 1996. As Lewis explains, they discovered that people do not make decisions as economists long believed—as "intuitive statisticians"—but rather in a chaotic fashion shot through with confirmation bias, fears of regret, sensitivity to change, the desire to avoid loss, and a propensity to mentally undo distressing outcomes. Through interviews with Tversky and Kahneman's friends, family, colleagues, rivals, and critics, as well as the psychologists' own recollections, letters, and published papers, Lewis seamlessly pieces together an informative and engagingly paced story. He begins with a step-by-step explanation of why both human minds and statistical models so often fail to produce the best choice. He then interweaves the psychologists' early lives, military service in defense of the young state of Israel, and professorial careers in both Israel and the United States with their questions, theories, and startling conclusions about how people actually make decisions. Lewis' latest effort is a joy to read, packed with "aha!" moments, telling and at times hilarious details, and elegant explanations of complex experiments and theories. (Dec. 6) Copyright 2016 Publisher Weekly Annex.

Annotations

The best-selling author of The Blind Side examines how a Nobel Prize-winning theory by Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky created the field of behavioral economics and has had a lasting influence on evidence-based regulation. - (Baker & Taylor)

Examines the history of behavioral economics, discussing the theory of Israeli psychologists who wrote the original studies undoing assumptions about the decision-making process and the influence it has had on evidence-based regulation. - (Baker & Taylor)

This descriptive narrative account for general readers and others tells of the friendship and scientific collaboration between two Israeli psychologists, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, and their research into how people make decisions. Best-selling author Michael Lewis (Liar’s Poker, Moneyball, The Blind Side, Flash Boys) recounts the research that led to Prospect Theory and spawned the field of behavior economics and impacted other fields such as Big Data studies and professional athletics teams organization. The book begins with examples from professional athletics, then gives details on Kahneman’s and Tversky’s early lives and the experiences that shaped their personalities and motivations. Annotation ©2017 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (protoview.com) - (Book News)

How a Nobel Prize–winning theory of the mind altered our perception of reality. - (WW Norton)

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. - (WW Norton)

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