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The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds

Forty years ago, Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky wrote a series of breathtakingly original papers that invented the field of behavioral economics. One of the greatest partnerships in the history of science, Kahneman and Tverskys extraordinary friendship incited a revolution in Big Data studies, advanced evidence-based medicine, led to a new approach to government regulation, and made much of Michael Lewiss own work possible. In The Undoing Project, Lewis shows how their Nobel Prizewinning theory of the mind altered our perception of reality....

Title : The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds
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ISBN : 9780393354775
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 368 pages
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THE UNDOING PROJECT A Friendship That Changed Our Minds In The Undoing Project, Michael Lewis tells the story of the friendship and work of Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, and how they changed our The Undoing Project A Friendship That Changed Our Minds The Undoing Project A Friendship that Changed Our Minds Brilliant Lewis has given us a spectacular account of two great men who faced up to uncertainty and The Undoing Project A Friendship that Changed Our Minds The bestselling author behind The Big Short talks about his new book The Undoing Project. Invisible Manipulators of Your Mind by Tamsin Shaw That research eventually yielded heuristics, or rules of thumb, that have now become well known shorthand expressions for specific flaws in our intuitive thinking. The Two Friends Who Changed How We Think About The book The Undoing Project A Friendship That Changed Our Minds, by Michael Lewis, tells the story of the psychologists Amos Tversky, left, and Daniel How Daryl Morey used behavioral economics to Reprinted from The Undoing Project A Friendship That Changed Our Minds Copyright by Michael Lewis With permission of Michael Lewis Greater Talent Network New York Times best selling author Michael Lewis has published than a dozen books including The Big Short, Moneyball, The Blind Side, and Flash Boys The Men Who Started a Thinking Revolution Freakonomics Michael Lewis wrote The Undoing Project about two psychologists that changed the way we look at economics Photo MichaelLewisWrites Friendship lessons My Little Pony Friendship is Magic It has been suggested that this article or section be split Proposed structure Friendship lessons season one, Friendship lessons season two, etc Ret Gone TV Tropes The Ret Gone trope as used in popular culture A character seems to vanish off the face of the earth Sometimes people just disappear, but this is something

The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds Reviews

  • Conor

    The story of Daniel Kahneman and his erstwhile companion Amos Tversky, and their creation of the field of behavioral economics. This was informative and quirky--these guys kind of propounded all of these very provocative and innovative theories on their own!--but also very poignant and sad. I won't spoil it, but Amos really disappointed me with his calcifications toward the end. I don't know that it's fitting that Kahneman wound up winning the Nobel while Tversky did not, but hopefully it provid ...more

  • Andrew Smith

    Amos Tversky and David Kahneman are psychologists who met in Israel in the 1960’s. Though very different in personality, they became very close friends and went on to collaborate in producing a number of papers concerning what came to be known as behavioural economics – or in layman’s terms, the psychology of judgement and decision making. In essence, they argued that departures in human rational thought can be predicted and its impacts calculated. To demonstrate this, they concocted numerous sc ...more

  • Nancy Regan

    When Psychology strapped on its parachute and dropped into the Kingdom of Economists, most of the natives rushed off to defend Rational Man from the attack of Emotionalists. Then a curious thing happened. When they considered emotions, the Economists found Rational Man more human, more likely to behave as people actually behaved. Probabilities, utilities and even regret mattered less than did potential change from the status quo to these actors. Michael Lewis narrates how it happened in this sup ...more

  • Miechele

    I enjoy a book or article that uses statistics and/or facts to cause me to ponder things from a different perspective.

  • Michael Perkins

    This book is a major departure from Lewis's other books, of which I have read many. He usually has a single narrative arc from beginning to end, which has served him well, but is missing in this book.

    I was quite interested in the topic given I have read "Thinking, Fast and Slow" three times, which is chock full of insight and practical wisdom based on sophisticated research. I found the Lewis book to be disorganized and rather a mess, unfortunately. And though Lewis is obviously the better styl

  • Ints

    Par šī autora grāmatām es vienmēr esmu bijis sajūsmā. Šo kaut kā biju palaidis garām, un par tās eksistenci uzzināju klausoties podkāstu, kurā pats autors nedaudz pastāstīja par šo grāmatu. Lieki piebilst, ka pēc podkāsta noklausīšanās es jau biju ticis pie grāmatas. Sāku lasīt to tūlīt.

    Pirms četrdesmit gadiem divi Izraēlas psihologi Daniels Kānemans un Amos Tverskis publicēja savu pētījumu augļus, kuri radīja pavisam jaunu psiholoģijas novirzienu – biheivorālo ekonomiku. Šīs sadarbības rezultāt

  • Jan Rice

    Originally reviewed in January, 2017

    After reading about this book, I pre-ordered it, six months before its release date.

    It's about the work of the psychologist Daniel Kahneman, who published Thinking, Fast and Slow in 2011 and his late collaborator, Amos Tversky. Thinking, Fast and Slow had a big impact on me.

    Moreover, The Undoing Project's author is Michael Lewis, of Moneyball and The Big Short fame. That's about all I knew of him. Around the book's release date there was a flurry of publicit

    Thaler got someone to send him a draft of "Value Theory." He instantly saw it for what it was, a truck packed with psychology that might be driven into inner sanctums of economics and exploded. The logic in the paper was awesome, overpowering. ... The paper blew a hole in economic theory for psychology to enter. "That really is the magic of the paper," said Thaler, "showing you could do it. Math with psychology in it. The paper was what an economist would call proof of existence. It captured so much of human nature."

    That sounds like such a thrill; really gets my iconoclastic juices flowing.

    There are so many examples of ways our thinking and decisions are shaped; framing for example: for people, perception of a "loss" depends on framing, which is manipulable. Two monkeys are satisfied when each is rewarded by a cucumber, but let one get a banana and all hell breaks loose. You earn a certain amount that you think is reasonable for work on a project--an amount that is greater than others in your group. Now say you earn the exact same amount but discover your peers received twice as much. Suddenly the previously sufficient amount is grossly inadequate.

    That's just one example but one with which I'd become familiar since framing (or "reframing") had entered the therapeutic lexicon.

    Another personage whose life and work surfaces in the book is Donald Redelmeier, a physician, who, as a result of having come across Kahneman and Tversky's work on judgment under uncertainty as a teenager, came to oversee decision-making in a trauma center as a preventive for systematic errors.

    The article was called "Judgment Under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases." It was in equal parts familiar and strange--what the hell was a "heuristic"? Redelmeier was seventeen ykears old, and some of the jargon was beyond him. But the article described three ways in which people made judgments when they didn't know the answer for sure. The names the author had given these--representativeness, availability, anchoring--were at once weird and secudtive. They made the phenomenon they described feel like secret knowledge. And yet what they were saying struck Redelmeier as the simple truth--mainly because he was fooled by the questions they put to the reader. He, too, guessed that the guy they named "Dick" and described so blandly was equally likely to be a lawyer or an engineer, even though he came from a pool that was mostly lawyers. He, too, made a different prediction when he was given worthless evidence than when he was given no evidence at all. He, too, thought that there were more words in a typical passage of English prose that started with K than had K in the third position, because words that began with K were easier to recall. ...

    This wasn't just about how many words in the English language started with the letter K. This was about life and death. "That article was more thrilling than a movie to me," said Redelmeier.

    Let me not forget to mention that people are geniuses of rationalization. We can't predict what's going to happen, but, once something does happen, we connect the dots to make whatever it was appear to have been inevitable. An "occupational hazard" of historians, thus, is to connect observed facts into a confident-sounding theory while neglecting the unobserved (or unobservable) facts. A similar hazard for social science experimenters is to take results that contradict the hypothesis and rationalize them, rather than discarding the hypothesis as flawed. Thus it is that talking heads of all sorts can often cover up their errors in prediction and simply keep on talking.

    At one point Kahneman and Tversky were enamored of something called Decision Theory, thinking that presidents and prime ministers could be educated and aided in logic like emergency room physicians--until coming up against the fact that powerful people--usually men--mostly had no interest at all in knowing about their mistakes. Here is a New York Magazine review of The Undoing Project that tells a little more about that, shares an additional quote from the book, and makes the frightening connection to the Age of Trump:

    That article makes reference a Social and Behavioral Science Team in the Obama White House. Yes, most but not all leaders wish to remain oblivious to their gaps in making good decisions: former President Obama had a team in place to aid the government in using the new cognitive knowledge for the common good of the American people, and it remained in place until the last minute. Here's a link to an article about it from the January 23, 2017, issue of The New Yorker:

    But, now,

    (the) team, if it even continued to exist in the new Administration, would soon belong to one of the most anti-science President-elects in history, who has called climate change a "hoax," spread unproven claims about vaccinations' ties to autism, and mocked new brain-science-backed N.F.L. guidelines to prevent concussions, saying that football had grown "soft."

    Sad, what we are losing! Two steps forward and, it appears, a giant step backward.

    But we can still learn. Little simple things that make a difference.

    Such as (from the same New Yorker article):

    The team ... advised Obama officials on how to quash false claims that the President was a Muslim. (Instead of saying, “No, Obama is not a Muslim”—which simply increased association by repetition—it was better to counter with “Actually, Obama is a Christian.”)

    In the Kahneman vernacular, just denying Obama is a Muslim played on the availability heuristic. Even though the content--the words--deny the charge, by repeating it they made it come to mind easier and thus seem more true and relevant. The second option, stating that Obama is a Christian, interfered. It threw a little bit of a monkey wrench into promulgation of the problematic belief.

    This stuff is useful. If this is how our minds work (if that's the sort of thing that is working on our minds, anyway) then what constitutes free will is grasping that knowledge and using it for the sake of better thinking.


    Reason developed not to enable us to solve abstract, logical problems or even to help us draw conclusions from unfamiliar data; rather, it developed to resolve the problems posed by living in collaborative groups.

    There was little advantage in reasoning clearly, while much was to be gained from winning arguments.

    ---Elizabeth Kolbert, "Why Facts Don't Change Our Minds," Issue of February 27, 2017

    And here's a new review of The Undoing Project from April 20, 2017, in which the reviewer is concerned about the potential for unconscious manipulation, that is, that cognitive science is being used to manipulate rather than to remove the sources of bias. But he may be missing the degree to which cognitive science concerns how things are (not pushing how things should be)--that we're already swimming in a sea of pressures and biases--that reason isn't what we think it is.

    October 11, 2017

    *When I was reading and reviewing this book, I was critical of Michael Lewis' focus on relationship issues. I even thought that focus was in the service of an eventual movie. But subsequently an aspect of the relationship (and its eventual breakdown) is what has stayed with me.

    The two principals had an extraordinarily intense and creative working relationship that they described as instantaneous sharing of ideas and uncritical acceptance as though two people were sharing one mind. Then they moved to another country. One of them got divorced and remarried. They no longer worked at the same university. One of them was more charismatic and impressive and got disproportionately rewarded by the world, so that he became convinced he was the more valuable partner and even began to take sole credit for work they had done together. Yet the other may have been the main source of their new ideas.

    "Amos changed," said Danny. "When I gave him an idea he would look for what was good in it. For what was right with it. That, for me, was the happiness in the collaboration. He understood me better than I understood myself. He stopped doing that" (my italics).

    What changes people? What frees them and lets them be who they are supposed to be? What saves them or activates them and really makes the difference? Something like what was going on with Kahneman and Tversky! But it can't be applied mechanically or as a technique. And it has nothing to do with being "nice."

    ...I don't think I'm in Kansas the territory of cognitive psychology anymore.

    Richard Thaler has just won the Nobel in Economics.


  • L.A. Starks

    If Kahneman and Tversky were giving talks today, they'd be YouTube/TED talk stars.

    While I first became acquainted with their work during business school, Lewis more comprehensively outlines how their take on psychology has so profoundly affected the discipline of economically-rational (or not so rational) man. Anything published in the last fifteen years on the subject of decision-making owes a debt to these two remarkable researchers.

    Tversky passed away before the Nobel prize was awarded for h