Book Summary — The Undoing Project

Book Summary — The Undoing Project

You can find all my book summaries ? here.

?The Undoing Project? gives lots of insights about the birth of heuristics, bias? and behavioural psychology. It is a biography about the two psychologists and writers Daniel Kahneman (?Danny?) and Amos Tversky. It also provides an incredible insight into Israel?s struggles post-WWII until the 90?s.

It was for me personally super interesting, as I?ve read dozens of journals co-authored by either or by both main characters ? the last one being ?Thinking Fast and Slow?.

Danny Kahneman & Amos Tversky

  • Israeli
  • Both army psychologist ? Kahneman developed scoring system for early recruits to predict how successful they will be
  • First taught and met in Israeli university then both moved to the US, but kept coming back to Israel to teach and fight in wars
  • Danny ? lots of emotional Ups and Downs and doubt; Amos ? charming, clever and confident
  • Danny and Amos were inseparable for decades spending all day together, locked up the two of the, laughing and writing a couple of sentences a day
  • They first wrote Journals in psychology then moved into other areas such as economics
  • Later in their lives they ?broke up? as Danny was left in Amos? shadow
  • In the end Amos? died before Danny and Danny received an Nobel prize

Their Work

This turns out to be a very powerful way of doing social science. That?s how Amos would begin: by undoing the mistakes of others.

  • Undid lots of what psychologists, experts, doctors, economists believed in -> most prominently, experts are often wrong and humans are not rational but have systematic biases

They provided a language and a logic for articulating some of the pitfalls people encounter when they think. Now these mistakes could be communicated?

Some of the Discussed Psychological Principles

  • Endowment Effect ? stuff you own, you value as more than if you didn?t own it
  • Confirmation Bias ? we look for data/examples which confirm our belief and turn a blind eye on stuff that contradicts it
  • Regression to the Mean ? people have odd days doing well and less well, but they have an average they come back to
  • Framing ? it matters how you ask a question or make a statement ? loss vs gain
  • Heuristics ? rules of thumb we use to make quick approximate judgements
  • Representativeness/Recency Bias ? because we can think of something faster (it was most recently / bigger impact) we think it is more likely / common than it really is
  • Anchoring ? hearing/stating a random number before a challenge to estimate something is used as an anchor to work/negotiate/estimate from even if it is completely unrelated
  • Creeping determinism ? in hindsight we always think that stuff was bound to happen, but at the time it actually was unpredictable
  • Last Impressions are Lasting ? same experiences, but the end made the memory of the experience different
  • Regret ? When people make a decision, they did not seek to maximize utility. They sought to minimize regret.

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Batko OS

The World as a System

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