Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Undoing Project

The Undoing Project
by Michael Lewis

How wonderful to have a friendship built upon that which is deeply explored and understood. So begins the friendship of two icons in the field of behavioral analysis, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky.  Their work on judgement and decision-making are lauded as the model from which all other theorists build.  The book The Undoing Project was written by Michael Lewis, AKA the author of the famous baseball book on how to use sabermetrics to field a baseball team.  Lewis reviews forty years of history between the two men, from Kahneman’s life during Nazi Germany as a Jew, to the University days of studying, then teaching, and finally conducting research on why people behave as they do.  The two men, who were complete opposites, became friends, which led to partnering on projects that suggest we should distrust human intuition and instead build models of how our behavior will respond to changes in society.  They are known as the “fathers” of behavioral economics, and I believe they have made a major impact on the field of neuroscience.  We learn of the fragility of friendship and how two men, so smart and driven to be the best thinkers, develop a depth of friendship unknown to most, but struggle to hold on to it due to their own egos.  There are significant questions to consider about how we “mis-think” the obvious and are fooled into believing that which seems to be true.  Kahneman is so smart, presenting baffling questions that most of us fail to comprehend.  So much in this book.  The first few chapters explore the stat nerd who was first hired to be an NBA Executive with the Houston Rockets after being fired in early career work as a consultant.  Lewis continues to present cutting-edge logic to his readers in this epic book.

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