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 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.
Contrary to popular belief, the human mind is more prone to mistakes. The work of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky's team, whose study revolutionized our understanding of human behavior, revealed many of the ways the mind deceives itself. The two psychologists appeared to be polar opposites in terms of attitude and approach, yet they shared a passion for the mind's mechanisms and a desire to correct our most prevalent misconceptions. Through their close collaboration, Tversky and Kahneman were able to pinpoint the cognitive biases that influence our daily decisions. Their work provided us with the tools we need to improve our thinking and stay clear of the subconscious mental traps.
Man is a deterministic device thrown into a probabilistic universe. In this match, surprises are expected.