Michael Lewis has brought us provocative books in the past such as Liar’s Poker and The Big Short. He thinks big and presents what he discovers in eminently readable form.
His latest book, The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds, is not only a great read, but it makes us think about how we think, and that’s its purpose.
Here is part of what David Leonhardt shared in his review of The Undoing Project in The New York Times:
In the fall of 1969, behind the closed door of an otherwise empty seminar room at Hebrew University, two psychologists began a collaboration that would upend the understanding of human behavior. Those first conversations were filled with uproarious laughter and occasional shouting, in a jumble of Hebrew and English, which could sometimes be heard from the hallway.
When it came time for the two professors to write up their papers, they would sit next to each other at a single typewriter. “We were sharing a mind,” one would say later. They flipped a coin to decide whose name would appear first on their initial paper and alternated thereafter. The two names were Amos Tversky — the winner of that coin flip — and Daniel Kahneman.
Their work revealed previously undiscovered patterns of human irrationality: the ways that our minds consistently fool us and the steps we can take, at least some of the time, to avoid being fooled. Kahneman and Tversky used the word “heuristics” to describe the rules of thumb that often lead people astray. One such rule is the “halo effect,” in which thinking about one positive attribute of a person or thing causes observers to perceive other strengths that aren’t really there. Another is “representativeness,” which leads people to see cause and effect — to see a “narrative” — where they should instead accept uncertainty or randomness.
For writers, there is an important nugget in this review that ought to be stated in capital letters: “No one ever made a decision because of a number. They need a story.”