HackerNews Readings
40,000 HackerNews book recommendations identified using NLP and deep learning

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Thinking, Fast and Slow

Daniel Kahneman, Patrick Egan, et al.

4.6 on Amazon

523 HN comments

The Pragmatic Programmer: 20th Anniversary Edition, 2nd Edition: Your Journey to Mastery

David Thomas, Andrew Hunt, et al.

4.8 on Amazon

396 HN comments


Frank Herbert, Scott Brick, et al.

4.7 on Amazon

379 HN comments

Snow Crash

Neal Stephenson, Jonathan Davis, et al.

4.3 on Amazon

368 HN comments

The Selfish Gene

Richard Dawkins, Lalla Ward, et al.

4.6 on Amazon

349 HN comments

Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams

Matthew Walker, Steve West, et al.

4.7 on Amazon

326 HN comments

The Design of Everyday Things: Revised and Expanded Edition

Don Norman

4.6 on Amazon

305 HN comments

Atlas Shrugged

Ayn Rand

4.5 on Amazon

290 HN comments

Brave New World

Aldous Huxley

4.6 on Amazon

284 HN comments


Neal Stephenson, William Dufris, et al.

4.4 on Amazon

283 HN comments

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values

Robert M Pirsig

4.5 on Amazon

270 HN comments

Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture

David Kushner, Wil Wheaton, et al.

4.8 on Amazon

262 HN comments

The Black Swan: Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable: With a new section: "On Robustness and Fragility" (Incerto)

Nassim Nicholas Nicholas Taleb

4.5 on Amazon

250 HN comments

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

Peter Thiel, Blake Masters, et al.

4.6 on Amazon

247 HN comments

The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

Eric Ries

4.6 on Amazon

243 HN comments

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BenjammeronJune 2, 2016

Kahneman's book, Thinking Fast and Slow[0] is a great read if you like to think about memory and how thinking functions in practice

[0] - https://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Fast-Slow-Daniel-Kahneman/dp...

ptdonNov 22, 2018

If you liked this piece, you might also enjoy Frank J. Babetski reviewing Thinking, Fast and Slow(Kahneman).


mherrmannonFeb 4, 2017

Kahneman summarises his and Amos's findings in the book "Thinking fast and slow" [1]. It's a fascinating tour of their discoveries. I'm not normally interested in psychology. But this book is awesome.

[1]: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0374533555/ref=as_li_tl?ie...

AlbertCoryonAug 13, 2021

Bingo. These (the authors) are people with no ideas of their own, but they still need funding. So they "classify" other people's ideas and make some nice graphics.

Read "Thinking Fast and Slow" (which, to their credit, they do list as a resource) and skip the rest of their grant seeking.

yborisonDec 16, 2019

Can highly recommend Thinking, Fast and Slow and Why Buddhism is True (listened to both as audio books).

I have not read the others, but the 5+ books I read by Bill Bryson have been awesome, putting The Body on my year's list - thanks ;)

ultrasounderonFeb 10, 2020

Thanks for making this list. And WOW!. What an impressive list of books You have read. I have Thinking Fast and Slow but haven't gotten around to reading it.

elamjeonJuly 3, 2020

Understand the basics of evolution and incentives.

Favorite books for practical psychology - Thinking Fast and Slow, How to win friends and influence people.

juanreonDec 27, 2011

Kahneman's "Thinking, Fast and Slow". It's a great account of things we know about how the mind works, with amazing insights.

hsureshonJuly 30, 2013

For those interested in this topic, Daniel Kahneman's book "Thinking, fast and slow" is an excellent resource. He refers to 2 systems in our brain, and how they interplay when making everyday decisions. Fascinating read.

tmatthewjonFeb 3, 2018

Thinking, Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman

The Richest Man in Babylon - George Samuel Clason

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - Robert M. Pirsig

How to Win Friends and Influence People - Dale Carnegie

This is such a beautiful thread!

bbodyonMay 27, 2018

"Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman, it made me learn to start questioning my own thought processes.

corysamaonMar 29, 2019

I've not read Thinking Fast and Slow. But, I'm convinced Malcolm Gladwell read Hare Brain, replaced most of the research stories with funny anecdotes and sold 1000x as many copies of Blink.

lkurusaonMay 12, 2020

"Thinking, Fast and Slow" is a book I buy for every person for their first birthday after I met them. It is the book that has had the most profound impact on me thus far.

diegoonJune 22, 2012

The Honest Truth About Dishonesty - Dan Ariely. Read all his books and papers, for that matter.

Thinking, Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman

I also liked Jonah Lehrer's Imagine, a book about creativity.

If you're into programming, I recommend The Joy of Clojure.

m0ckonDec 2, 2020

I am finally about to finish Thinking Fast and Slow. It is a great book, but very dense, I can handle max. 2 chapters/day

tmalyonJuly 8, 2018

I would recommend the audio book of Thinking Fast and Slow. I have been listening to it during my commute and it is fascinating.

wmuonMar 30, 2020

> The irony was that I was probably the most productive person in that office (in my humble opinion).

It's a cognitive bias. I'm pretty sure I came across such example in Kahneman's "Thinking, Fast and Slow".

adriangranzellaonMay 24, 2012

Good list. I also recommend Thinking, Fast and Slow
by Daniel Kahneman--a great read on decision making.

bthomasonMar 23, 2012

Totally agree. More accurate phrasing would have been "another reminder of how..."

Book recommendation: Thinking Fast and Slow by Dan Kahneman. Great overview of how those factors affect decision making.

pfbtgomonAug 6, 2018

This is the premise of the book "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman. Among other things, he explains System 1 in terms of popular cognitive biases. It's a good read.

raisteronApr 25, 2020

Have you read Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman?
They gave him a Nobel for tackling decision problems. I guess that's one important problem to humanity in general.

TheAlchemistonMay 16, 2016

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman: http://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Fast-Slow-Daniel-Kahneman/dp/...

Great book about the way humans think.

tlackemannonMar 6, 2017

++ Thinking, Fast and Slow

Great book, textbook-ish, but reshaped how I look at people and problems

fnlonMar 6, 2017

Quite some overlap with others here, but to add some of my own favorites:

- The Shock Doctrine by N. Klein

- The Anarchist Banker by F. Pessoa

- Collapse by J. Diamond

- Thinking, Fast and Slow by D. Kahneman

- a few books by Noam Chomsky

EDIT: nearly forgot:

- Brave New World by A. Huxley

mcguireonDec 6, 2017

Tl;dr: Many organizations make decisions like a drunken madman whose seeing-eye dog just ate his hearing aid.

For reasons why, see Thinking, Fast and Slow (just reading it now; it's quite good) and Thaler's Misbehaving.

elbearonMar 14, 2018

Many? The link only talks about chapter 4 of his book Thinking, Fast and Slow.

ncphillipsonAug 26, 2020

Unfortunately people don’t work that way. People are highly influenced by the way things are presented. There are numerous examples of this. See Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman for a good primer.

fcanelaonJan 3, 2015

What's the book that most influenced you on critical/rational thinking?

The website promotes a list (http://rationality.org/reading/). I have only read "Thinking, Fast and Slow" and I am looking for HN users favorites.

unmoleonDec 19, 2018

> Thinking, Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman

Doesn't "giant collection of studies and anecdotal stories all around a central theme, in easy to read language" perfectly describe it? I know I am very much in the minority but I absolotely hated Thinking, Fast and Slow.

bumbyonJune 24, 2019

Any idea how this compares to Daniel Kahnamans research on ego depletion? I only know of it from the laymens book "Thinking: Fast and Slow"

bimronOct 13, 2016

Not sure why this was downvoted. This is priming. The term should be famous now thanks to the books "Thinking Fast and Slow" and "Nudge"

VMGonMar 26, 2012

For those who are interested in this kind of stuff, I recommend "The Skeptics Guide To The Universe" podcast and the book "Thinking - Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman

misiti3780onJan 18, 2016

Influence was a great book, but it is a bit outdated (in my opinion). Predictably Irrational and his other books were much more relevant. Thinking Fast and Slow was the best one of then all.

killjoywashereonJune 7, 2018

You should read Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking, Fast and Slow". It's not possible to make all the right policy decisions that are right in hindsight and before a sentinal event occurs. Hindsight bias is always 20/20. Anyone making real decisions of consequence will eventually curse hindsight.

mooncakeonDec 15, 2019

This year I read "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman and absolutely loved it. I was surprised this list did not contain it.

Looks like I've got quite a few books to read.

s_p_leeonFeb 5, 2017

Mentioned elsewhere in these comments is Daniel Kahneman's book "Thinking, Fast and Slow." It's a great read and full of concrete examples.

bimronOct 13, 2016

as @tiglionabbit mentioned, this is priming.
The term should be famous now thanks to the books "Thinking Fast and Slow" and "Nudge". Also probably a dose of recency bias.

mbestoonDec 19, 2012

I've said it before and I'll say it again. If you want to understand more about this (especially economically), Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow spells it out really well:


panarkyonJuly 29, 2019

In his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman says that walking slowly helps with thinking, while walking fast "brings about a sharp deterioration in my ability to think coherently".


capkutayonDec 28, 2013

I was thinking about reading 'Thinking, Fast and Slow', but I couldn't tell if it would really be useful or if it would just be another glorified self-help book. But if people here like it, I will probably give it a shot.

Also, Drunkard's Walk was excellent.

l0neronOct 28, 2016

For those interested in the topic, there's a really good book (also available as audiobook) that covers this in some depth, "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman.

msutherlonApr 18, 2013

Along similar lines, Daniel Kahneman in Thinking Fast and Slow advises writing down your thoughts before entering a meeting as you are likely to be affected by the ensuing discussion. You can extend that logic to jobs, relationships, and any activity where you might want to observe your own bias.

feebooonFeb 18, 2019

"Thinking, Fast and Slow" by "Daniel Kahneman" is a great book on these topics. There is a lot of info on how the mind can be tricked. I really recommend it.

dominoonJan 18, 2017

Besides "Thinking Fast and Slow", what are some good books you would recommend?

daliusdonMay 4, 2014

There is very good book on this topic "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman. Instincts can be very misleading sometimes.

callahadonMar 21, 2016

Thinking Fast and Slow isn't a textbook, but Kahneman is a Nobel laureate and most of the book reports experimental findings with 30+ pages of citations in the endnotes. It's a good read.

myth_busteronNov 30, 2018

This I believe is also hammered on in Thinking fast and slow which is an excellent book.

It condenses the major findings on behavioral psychology from 21st century into an accessible paperback.

mcguireonJuly 30, 2020

I might go so far as to say essentially none. Quite a few have published popular books, like Thinking Fast and Slow, but I seriously doubt the money from that funded further work (and it would be a crappy way to run a scientific career).

AzzieElbabonJuly 12, 2021

Interesting, I never considered "Thinking Fast and Slow" and " "Persuasion" to be psychology books or I would not have read them

SapphireSunonJune 4, 2015

That's actually a hard question. People seem to care more about the remembering self than the experiencing self. Give "Thinking Fast and Slow" a read. It has a very interesting discussion of this topic.

WalterBrightonJune 29, 2017

> Not everyone has this bias.

Are you sure about that? As research in "Thinking Fast and Slow" by Kahneman shows, people exhibit the usual cognitive biases even while adamantly asserting they do not.

homingbrainonJuly 15, 2016

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

Also, strangely enough (not being a Harry Potter fan), I immensely enjoyed Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality.

anindyabdonAug 19, 2015

If any one is interested in learning about biases further, I strongly recommend Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking, Fast and Slow". It changed the way I view the world in a lot of ways, and made me a lot more skeptical about my beliefs and intuitions than I already was, which I think is healthy.

jdeisenbergonJan 9, 2015

See http://www.businessinsider.com/daniel-kahneman-on-hiring-dec... for a very different viewpoint. (The full details are in Kahneman's book "Thinking, Fast and Slow")

jfehronApr 16, 2019

Daniel Kahnemann calls this the "inside view" and "outside view", from his book Thinking Fast and Slow.

The relevant excerpt (mostly an anecdote that serves as an introduction to a whole chapter about it) can be found here: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-cor...

generaljellyonSep 13, 2019

If you want to read something interesting on how thinking works I suggest 'Thinking, Fast and Slow' by Daniel Kahneman.

joshuakonDec 7, 2016

You should read "Thinking, Fast and Slow", it will change your life. Hint: you're not too far off base

jm__87onMar 7, 2018

'Thinking Fast and Slow' by Daniel Kahneman has an interesting bit on experience vs memory and how this affects our judgement. The two can differ quite a bit, based on the research presented in this book.

jerfonJune 12, 2012

The book mentioned, "Thinking, Fast and Slow", despite the boring title, is quite good. If you're the sort to hang around lesswrong.com it won't blow your mind, those less exposed to those ideas will find it fascinating (and probably a bit more accessible in book form).

rrecueroonJune 13, 2016

+ 1 on this. It reminds me to the two systems that Daniel Kahneman talks about in his book: Thinking Fast and Slow. The human brain is only good at multitasking simple things. You can only perform one complex task at a time.

jfaucettonDec 21, 2017

1. Thinking fast and slow - Kahneman

2. Outliers - Malcom Gladwell

3. How to read and do proofs - Daniel Solow

All of these were packed with great insights and are books I'm sure I will return to in the future for multiple re-reads.

klungeronNov 7, 2015

This topic is covered in significantly more depth in his book Thinking Fast and Slow. I highly recommend taking the time to read it, if this article piqued your interest.

nicostouchonJuly 20, 2018

I love this story. Please tell us more.

Years before I ever read Thinking Fast and Slow I clicked on to the fact that humans are predisposed to making exceedingly poor decisions. This is such a fun example.

I almost want to start a side-project based on collecting these...

davidwonDec 20, 2016

This is kind of tangential, but is Michael Lewis' new book about Kahneman worth reading if you've already read "Thinking Fast And Slow"? I'd certainly recommend the latter - it's a very interesting book.

austinjponJune 17, 2016


For those unfamiliar with the Linda problem, Daniel Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow explains it.

There are far more assholes than there are people with Asperger's. Consequently Bob is probably an asshole, plain and simple.

aleccoonMar 23, 2012

Another good book with a chapter on this is "Thinking Fast and Slow".

moosinhoonFeb 9, 2016

If you enjoy reading about human biases coming from non-statistical point of view then check out "Thinking fast and slow" by Kahneman. Great read.

chillacyonMar 6, 2021

So much has been built upon this framework in psychology and decision making that it’s probably work reading Thinking Fast and Slow. Not all of it has survived the replication crisis (in particular some of the experiments on priming) but much is still relevant.

RivieraKidonMay 13, 2020

One of the nicest and most unique designs I've seen recently, well done.

I'm just reading "Thinking, Fast and Slow" and several of those principles are talked about in the book.

doer20onDec 12, 2014

The Age of Miracles: A novel, Karen Thompson Walker - ever wonder how will homo sapiens survive?

Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman - taught me how to make better decisions

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, Chip Heath - improved my ability to persuade.

onlyrealcuzzoonDec 28, 2019

The Black Swan by Taleb and Thinking, Fast and Slow by Kahneman are two books that pretty much completely changed how I view the world, and have made me much happier as a direct result.

manifestsilenceonJuly 30, 2015

Interesting. This reminds me of the System 1 vs. System 2 thinking described in Thinking, Fast and Slow:

rtkaratekidonOct 16, 2019

There's a little more on the subject of realists vs non-realists in the book "Thinking Fast and Slow" if the topic interests you. He doesn't link it to depression, but it's still quite an interesting read.

subliminalzenonSep 28, 2015

Actually, what happens isn't much different than a magician's slight of hand. The eyes are drawn to the underlying image, thereby suspending the critical faculties of the mind and creating an opportunity for implicit learning.

Thinking Fast and Slow is one of my favorite books. Read it twice!

saaadhuonJune 19, 2016

This is consistent with what Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking Fast and Slow" says - engaging System2 (thinking) diminishes System1's (intuitiveness) capacity.

joshuathomas096onSep 23, 2016

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.
He won a Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002 for his work in Behavioral Economics. I truly believe understanding human behavior and decision making is a key foundation to anything else you read in Economics.

This book changed my life, I highly recommend it.

wskinneronFeb 26, 2017

I wouldn't place too much stake in predictions made by experts. There is evidence that these may be far less accurate than we'd like to think, even for very near events. See http://press.princeton.edu/titles/7959.html. This research was also discussed in Thinking Fast and Slow.

dhughesonJune 18, 2013

An interesting take on this at reddit submitted by user 'thenewlove': http://www.reddit.com/r/YouShouldKnow/comments/1gdb63/ysk_ab...

Also mentioned in the post by user 'eleven7' is the book "Thinking Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman.

kayproonDec 16, 2019

The Body - Bill Bryson

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics - Rovelli, Carlo

Thinking, Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman

Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment - Robert Wright

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind - Yuval Noah Harari

vvillenaonFeb 5, 2019

Psychological techniques tend to work no matter whether we are aware of them or not. Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking, fast and slow" explains why this happens, with lots of examples. It's a great read.

mudilonAug 2, 2019

Daniel Kahneman’s book “Thinking, Fast and Slow” was a real eye opener to me. The most amazing aspect of some of what he discussed was that human psychology is so persistent, so intrinsic, that even experts that well know our deficiencies still make mistakes in decisions on psychological tests.

jpadifonAug 27, 2019

This is among other things is what the book Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman is about.

Totally recommended read.

scott_sonMay 12, 2020

On "Thinking Fast and Slow", you may want to read criticisms of the book. For example, "Reconstruction of a Train Wreck: How Priming Research Went off the Rails", https://replicationindex.com/2017/02/02/reconstruction-of-a-...

nicclonMay 19, 2021

Agreed. If you haven't read it, check out Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahnema (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thinking,_Fast_and_Slow).

alehulonApr 4, 2018

Among the books, you included Thinking, Fast and Slow which really stands out, and I was wondering what you gained from it, and how you'd summarize its relevance/value?

I've been meaning to read it, and I think it's really interesting that it provides enough value to be among the others.

diego_moitaonDec 29, 2019

* Information: A history, a theory, a flood - James Gleick

* Sapiens - Yuval Harari

* Thinking, fast and slow - Daniel Kahneman

* Power of Habit - Charles Duhig

Fazel94onDec 18, 2019

"Thinking Fast, and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman, I am in Chapter 12.

"System Design Primer"

2T1Qka0rEiPronSep 23, 2016

For a truly fun read I'd suggest Dan Ariely's "Predictably Irrational". It's less academic than "Thinking fast and slow" by Daniel Kahneman (which is also great), but I found that refreshing.

aleccoonApr 14, 2012

A great book on the subject is Thinking Fast and Slow.

JohnHammersleyonJuly 27, 2015

If you only ever read one of my HN posts, I recommend reading this one (because reading the book quoted in the article - "Thinking, Fast and Slow" - has changed my views on decision making and the human brain).

enzoaguadoonMay 27, 2019

Not specific to software engineering, but there's a very interesting book about logical fallacies and the tricks that our brain play on us, Thinking: Fast and Slow, by nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman

dwightgunningonJuly 4, 2016

So, say I'm about 15% into Thinking Fast and Slow, and struggling a little with the pace/density, should I keep going with it?

I'm generally interested in the topic but just got side tracked from the book and haven't picked it up in a couple months.

WalterBrightonMay 14, 2020

Cognitive biases play a large role in poor investment performance, see "Thinking Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman.

lumannnnonDec 16, 2019

- Nassim Taleb's Incerto Box Set:

    - Antifragile (already started)
- The Black Swan
- Skin In The Game
- (there are 2 more books which I've already read)

- The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith

- Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman

- Reread: E-Myth, Michael E. Gerber

emreonDec 26, 2017

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

I read it again every now and then. Explains cognitive biases, prospect theory and happiness.


MarlonProonApr 4, 2018

- Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio
- Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss
- Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

~10 SQL Server/DW/BI books (not just on the desk but scattered everywhere)

sah2edonMay 3, 2018

Your observation sounds like what Daniel Kahneman described in his book: Thinking, Fast and Slow as the peak-end rule [0].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak%E2%80%93end_rule

mavihsonJune 27, 2019

On the subject of pupil dilation, in the book Thinking fast and slow, Daniel kahneman explains that for any mentally taxing task pupils dilate in proportion to the difficult of the task. If the task is too difficult, they don't dilate at all.

RyanMcGrealonAug 1, 2012

I just finished Thinking, Fast And Slow a couple of days ago, and it's the most thought-provoking, moving work of non-fiction I've read in years.

dwighttkonFeb 5, 2019

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Streams of Living Water by Richard Foster

Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

scholiaonApr 24, 2017

Even if you are truly self-aware, there is no view without a point of view.

(And if you think you are truly self-aware, you have not read Thinking Fast and Slow. You should.)


madiatoronJuly 18, 2020

If you read the book "Thinking fast and slow" or perhaps "Predictably irrational", you will realize how irrational all of us are.

elbearonMar 10, 2020

I assume it's a reference to Kahneman's "Thinking, Fast and Slow".

misiti3780onMay 12, 2020

Nassim Taleb's books (Black swan, Antifragile, Fooled by Randomnesss)

Thinking Fast and Slow

The Organized Mind

The Vital Question by Nick Lane.

The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch

leakonJan 26, 2018

The Four Agreements - Don Miguel Ruiz

The War of Art - Steven Pressfield

Thinking, Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman

tmalyonMay 14, 2019

I have found Poor Charlies Almanack by Charlie Muenger to have quite a few.

Thinking Fast and Slow is another great book that explains some of the mental models well.

The Art of Thinking Clearly is yet another that is actually more like a dictionary of mental models.

boboshaonNov 5, 2017

1. Thinking fast and slow - Kahneman

2. Godel, Escher and Bach - Hofstadter

3. On Intelligence - Jeff Hawkins

Ragib_ZamanonJan 22, 2019

> Do we possess a Bayesian brain that estimates probabilities in real time?

You should read Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking Fast and Slow" - the answer is a resounding "No".

killjoywashereonJune 11, 2018

Read Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking, Fast and Slow" if you want to delve into this.

khingebjergonApr 9, 2015

"Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman.

Review in The New York Times:

jgrahamconFeb 9, 2018

That has been my experience with all of his writing. I gave up reading Thinking, Fast and Slow because he wasn't clear.

petefordeonJan 5, 2020


Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

Astrophysics For People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson

bonus round:

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Shoedog by Phil Knight

The Death of Truth by Michiko Kakutani

ndonnellanonSep 2, 2015

I'm working my way through "Thinking Fast and Slow" by Kahnemann. It doesn't have much (or any) in the way of heavy math, but it references many experiments, and the tone in general is about how easy it is to "disprove" standard economic theory.

I like it.

olalondeonSep 28, 2019

"Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman.

jacobnonOct 28, 2014

And this is why software schedules are always off. Any schedule for that matter.

If you're into this type of psychology, check out "Thinking Fast and Slow" by D. Kahnemann.


mzanchionOct 25, 2018

You can also read the book "Thinking, fast and slow"

pawelwentpawelonFeb 21, 2013

Quite of a funny coincidence - I was just discussing this with my colleague literally a few seconds before seeing this link.

We were both going through the same book recently - Thinking, Fast and Slow by Kahneman. Interesting read if you want to find out more about those phenomenons.

xziononAug 22, 2016

Is the post title referring to "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman, or something else?

knightnionDec 25, 2012

I read Thinking, Fast and Slow this year too, and it is definitely up there on my best books of all time list.

I also read Black Like Me, which seems to be required reading in the US, but I only recently became aware of it. Definitely worth a look.

jdegagonFeb 5, 2019

Thinking, Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman

MediumDonFeb 5, 2019

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

trickstraonMay 12, 2019

It took me about 9 months to read "Thinking fast and slow". But that's because after every paragraph I spent at least 15 minutes pondering about the consequences of each of the new information. Best book I've ever read.

davisonAug 20, 2014

I think you'd be interested in reading Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

Specifically, he addresses CEO's as well as the stock market. I think equating Ballmer's leaving of Microsoft to the stock market success is coincidental at best.

mlpinitonNov 12, 2015

There's a book called "Thinking, Fast and Slow" that mentions some of the concepts covered here.

jonathanstrangeonFeb 9, 2018

Judging from what I remember of Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow, this is probably about the base rate fallacy. So yes, the claim is that often there is no real learning involved.

ivan_ahonJuly 6, 2014

In case anyone else is wondering, System 1 = autopilot thinking and System 2 = deliberate thinking.

From Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

ivotrononJuly 31, 2014

From Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking, Fast and Slow": practice AND feedback. Without feedback, you don't know how well/bad you're doing

therealdrag0onDec 8, 2014

"Thinking Fast and Slow", was definitely the most impacting book for me last year. Highly recommended.

treehau5onNov 14, 2014

This question seems like it came straight out of the book, Thinking, Fast and Slow.

janjonJan 6, 2012

I've started reading 'Thinking, Fast and Slow' and really like it so far. If anyone in the Bay area wants it after I'm done let me know.

pmcpintoonDec 28, 2013

For me, there were two books that I consider complementary:
Thinking, Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman
The Power of Habit - Charles Duhigg

charlietango592onDec 29, 2019

Thinking fast and slow, by Daniel Kahneman

Sapiens - A short history of humankind, by Yuval Harari

proctoronDec 5, 2013

could it be "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman?

gnicholasonJan 19, 2017

Thinking and Deciding by Jonathan Baron: https://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Deciding-4th-Jonathan-Baron/...

(I say this as someone who has read Thinking, Fast and Slow and other Kahneman books.)

djtriptychonAug 9, 2016

I felt this way about Thinking: Fast and Slow. One of my favorite books, but could have been half the length. At least they included the original white paper in the back.

onlyrealcuzzoonJune 25, 2019

In Thinking, Fast and Slow -- the author details a double blind trial where the did this. It was worse with humans and AI than with just AI. Humans think they can use AI as a guide and move it in the right direction. But the movements they made, on average, were bad.

DerbastionApr 23, 2016

You should read "Thinking, fast and slow", then.

dschiptsovonOct 22, 2015

There is a book about that - Thinking Fast And Slow.)

ylansegalonJuly 30, 2014

Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman
The Rails 4 Way, Obie Fernandez

brad_mathesononMar 4, 2016

Poor sleep makes me feel ego depleted which I read about in Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow

maineventonApr 17, 2012

Wondering whether this article should credit Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking, Fast and Slow" as these ideas seem to come fairly directly from that book.


jonnybgoodonOct 1, 2015

I remember reading about something similar in "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman.

thrufloonApr 23, 2016

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

spokennonJuly 12, 2014

What do you think about Daniel Kahneman's 'Thinking Fast and Slow'?

jamesmcintyreonDec 13, 2013

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Abundance by Peter H. Diamandis

j-collieronJan 2, 2018

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman was a game changer for me. I've seen it mentioned countless times here.

onemoresooponFeb 6, 2020

Yes. Daniel Kahneman's 'Thinking fast and slow' comes to mind. I haven't read the book but listened to a few podcasts about it. I think it comes down to what mode of thinking is being employed. Some use more than the other, some have a balanced use.

glitchconFeb 5, 2019

Non-fiction: Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman is a book I think about time and time again.

Fiction: Cat’s Cradle by Vonnegut and Ender’s Game by Card have been transformative.

CodhisattvaonDec 28, 2013

+1 Thinking, Fast and Slow. I was going to post that as the most influential book of the year.

(I started reading Nate Silver's The Signal and the Noise when I got to a reference to Thinking, Fast and Slow. Switched and haven't gone back yet.)

davidjhallonAug 8, 2015

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

linux_devilonOct 10, 2013

Malcolm Gladwell's piece is like a fiction in Decision making . I will still prefer likes of Daniel Khaneman and others. Should have read "Thinking Fast and Slow" long ago.

paufernandezonJan 5, 2020

I believe you can read a novel more or less mindlessly, as you can read HN. But HN is more surprising, and it's like a slot-machine (in the analogy that Tristan Harris makes with social media).

For me it is like System 1 or System 2 taking charge (as in the book "Thinking Fast and Slow", by Kahneman).

thingamarobertonApr 9, 2015

Maybe you'd like to follow that up with "The Art of War", by Niccolo
Machiavelli? :)

I'm in the middle of Paulo Coelho's "The Zahir". The next one in line is
"Thinking, Fast and Slow", by Daniel Kahneman. I'm really looking forward to
that one!

glormphonJuly 30, 2014

Thinking, fast and slow by Kahnemann.

manibatraonApr 18, 2016

In the book "Thinking Fast and Slow" the author Daniel Kahneman states that we remember our memories and that is one of the main reasons that people take photographs on vacations and such rather than being in the moment and actually experiencing.

idohonSep 16, 2012

Some favorites from my bookshelf: Benjamin Franklin's autobiography, Thinking Fast and Slow, Fooled by Randomness / Black Swan, SICP, Zen Mind Beginner's Mind

NarretzonNov 26, 2013

I can't tell you the exact study, but you can find it in Kahnemann's Thinking Fast and Slow.

IanCalonApr 9, 2015

Thinking, fast and slow - Daniel Kahneman

A stunningly good book about cognitive biases, with fairly understated claims and backed up with studies. Excellent advice for life and it's changed how I view decisions and interactions. [edit - if you want it and can't afford it, get in touch and I might be able to buy you a copy]

The Evolution of Cooperation - Robert Axelrod

Rather hammers the prisoners dilemma a lot, but it does feel justified. It's been maybe 9 years since I read this and it was the first thing that popped into my mind when I saw this question. How does co-operation work? What properties are required for co-operation? If I recall correctly it examines these questions from the scale of bacteria to nation states.

usefulonMay 25, 2016

Isn't this just type 2 (slow) thinking? The "grit" required to focus on complex tasks is the same brain function as ability to suffer for long periods during exercise, problem solving, etc. Many books and science cover this subject, I can think of two, "Thinking, Fast and Slow" and "Iron War".

nameless_wickedonFeb 6, 2019

Charles Duhigg "The Power of Habit" and Kelly McGonigal "The Willpower Instinct" both greatly impacted my perception of people's actions and ways of life. Currently reading "Thinking Fast And Slow" and it has the same effect on me.

Jordan B. Peterson "12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos" made me more proactive and helped to summarize some past experience.

Richard Feynman "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" awesome book, about awesome life of awesome person.

spenroseonAug 20, 2013

Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow is all about this. He would say that the visual impressions are "System 1" and the fine musicological distinctions are "System 2".

p0nceonDec 22, 2016

My favourite book this year: Thinking Fast and Slow. Well worth the hype.

saturdaysaintonJan 9, 2018

Both are averting losses of different kinds. Young people are driven by social pressures (FOMO), old people are avoiding bigger risks (mortality, financial calamity).

This is bog standard behavioral economics. I highly recommend Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking, Fast and Slow".

grzmonFeb 8, 2017

I think you'd get a lot out of reading Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking, Fast and Slow" and Jonathan Haidt's "The Righteous Mind". They're not directly related to privacy, but I found them really helpful in understanding human psychology and different aspects of human thinking.

ItendToDisagreeonJan 20, 2014

Even Buffet claims (and knows) that he was VERY lucky to be in the places he was, with the connections he had, at the times he was. The formula for success requires a great deal of luck. There is a really interesting section of Thinking, Fast and Slow — By Daniel Kahneman which addresses this in great detail.

hanumanthanonMar 27, 2017

Thinking fast and slow -

This book deals with lot of experiments on human decisioning and explains how impulsive and irrational our decisions can be

atuladharonJan 6, 2012

I recently read Kahneman's 2011 book "Thinking, Fast and Slow" -- it should probably be required reading for everybody who's in charge of making decisions that affect a lot of people.

areyousureonApr 6, 2016

Having researched this myself moderately extensively, I do not believe that the event actually happened.

Moreover, the book "Thinking fast and slow" does not contain the word "pottery" (nor "ceramics").

evoxedonJune 16, 2012

That seems to be one of the major laments in Thinking, Fast and Slow (Kahneman). Us humans, even when we're 'ready for it', tend to be remarkably inflexible in adopting concepts which conflict with our basic or social intuitions...

tmalyonJuly 14, 2018

I finished Never Split the Difference a month back. Fantastic read.

I am almost finished with Thinking Fast and Slow. I kinda wish I had read it years back given all the useful insights.

I just bought a copy of the 1961 version of Stranger in a Strange land.

Jordan_NonJune 12, 2012

All of this is covered (much better)in Kahneman's 'Thinking, Fast and Slow'.

jor-elonJuly 2, 2019

Thinking, fast and slow - by Daniel Kahneman

It is a great book and talks about two systems in which we can divide the working of our brain. Kahneman also talks exposes the extraordinary capabilities—and also the faults and biases—of fast thinking, and reveals the pervasive influence of intuitive impressions on our thoughts and behavior.


palerdotonSep 2, 2017

The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson

Thinking fast and slow by Daniel Kahneman

WalterBrightonDec 7, 2014

It's a human perceptual problem, and has nothing to do with wealth or status. The book "Thinking Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman goes into some detail about it.

sonecaonAug 9, 2015

Thinking Fast and Slow - each chapter summarize several others whole books on behavioral economics.

kyroonSep 11, 2013

I think Conan's "act as if" advice unknowingly points to a whole field of research that claims that your actions and ideas are reciprocally linked. That is, if your idea of yourself is that you're confident, you'll act like it. Conversely, if you act like you're confident, your mind will develop the belief that you are truly confident. A great book that discusses this topic is Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

binarnosponMay 18, 2015

"Thinking fast and slow" by Daniel Kahneman dedicates an entire chapter analyzing why traders think that they know how to predict the future of markets, even when faced with real data that proves otherwise. In fact, a completely random algorithm often outperforms professional traders.

lpolovetsonNov 13, 2011

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Michael Lewis recently wrote an article about Kahneman and the book, and the discussion of that on HN really piqued my interest. (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3219240)

polskibusonDec 29, 2012

My recommendation would be:
Kahneman's "Thinking Fast and Slow" for people wanting to understand social and psychological mechanisms and use them more efficiently in real-life scenarios.

hanozonSep 12, 2017

I was just about to embark on "Thinking, Fast and Slow" as my next commuting audio book. Ought I not to bother?

satyajitsdtonNov 15, 2012

Last month I read "Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" by Robert M. Pirsig and just completed reading "Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions" by Dan Ariely. I would recommend both of these books. I have just started with 'Thinking, Fast and Slow' by Daniel Kahneman.

MarkMconAug 6, 2018

The article's author David Gal claims that 'loss aversion' is a fallacy. But in the book Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman says that the following experiment demonstrates loss aversion.


People are randomly given one of two problems:

Probem A: In addition to whatever you own, you have been given $1,000. You are now asked to choose one of these options: 50% chance to win $1,000 OR get $500 for sure

Problem B: In addition to whatever you own, you have been given $2,000. You are now asked to choose one of these options: 50% chance to lose $1,000 OR lose $500 for sure.


According to Kahneman, many more people will take the gamble when it is framed as potential win (Problem A) rather than as a potential loss (Problem B).

So is Gal saying this experiment is not reproducible or that it doesn't demonstrate loss aversion?

hayksaakianonJan 15, 2014

thanks, that was a great article. my favorite quote:

> After any process that leaves behind survivors, the non-survivors are often destroyed or muted or removed from your view. If failures becomes invisible, then naturally you will pay more attention to successes.

another one:

> As the psychologist Daniel Kahneman writes in his book Thinking Fast and Slow, “A stupid decision that works out well becomes a brilliant decision in hindsight.”

chxonMar 1, 2021

Read Daniel Kahneman: Thinking, Fast and Slow. A relevant excerpt can be found at https://acquirersmultiple.com/2018/04/daniel-kahneman-the-il...

> Nevertheless, the evidence from more than fifty years of research is conclusive: for a large majority of fund managers, the selection of stocks is more like rolling dice

> the year-to-year correlation between the outcomes of mutual funds is very small, barely higher than zero. The successful funds in any given year are mostly lucky; they have a good roll of the dice.

samebreathonFeb 25, 2019

biases generality is a great question to ask. I rely on smarter people than me quoting repeated and repeatable research. The best I've ever read is in the book Thinking Fast and Slow, and a beautiful representation of it can be seen on designhacks.co (the latter is on my wall as a reminder of how fallible the mind can be).

radu_floricicaonDec 28, 2011

"Thinking Fast and Slow" was the wider, more interesting book, but I found "Willpower" to be the practical one. Got at least a couple of potentially life changing things from it - its views on dieting, and the concept that creating a habit gives basically free willpower. But they are both excellent books, and I would be extremely happy to see them reaching as wide an audience as possible.

embwbamonSep 28, 2015

Regarding zenpusher: From my armchair, It seems like you should make the contrast higher for the fonts. I've been reading Thinking, Fast and Slow, and his research shows that text that is hard to read activates the conscious part of our brain, and makes it harder to get messages into the subconscious.

talibanonMay 7, 2013


Thinking Fast and Slow is one of those books that changes your life by permanently altering your worldview. On some level it makes you resent yourself as you start learning how to identify your own biases (and even worse, just how many there are! Good God!) but once the bruises on your ego start fading you'll find that you're a far better person for it.

klelattionJuly 8, 2021

No doubt there are a lot of "self help" books that are a scam - but that's true for a lot of genres.

A lot of the criticisms seem highly dubious e.g. is this really true?

> The entire business-focused self-help industry is built on the fallacy that successful people read a lot of books.

Altogether seems more like a rant than reasoned criticism.

BTW the list of books cited as an example of the 'scam' includes "Thinking, Fast and Slow" - reasonably sure that reading this is a lot more worthwhile than reading this particular post.

steelframeonMar 31, 2019

I encourage you to read the book "Thinking, Fast and Slow." This book explains how System 1 is trained with deeply-ingrained biases through repeated feedback-based experiences. Tesla then says, "But make sure your System 2 is ready to take over in an instant!" This simply isn't how the human brain works.

diegoonDec 25, 2012

Here's a list of books that I read this year and liked. My favorite was Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. The rest are all worth reading. I hesitated to put "The Joy of Clojure" on that list because it's too narrow, but it's one of the best programming books I've seen.


9889095r3jhonMar 15, 2018

After reading 'Thinking Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman, I'm not surprised people can't calculate their bill and determine change in line at the super market. Solving math problems like that requires deliberate focus and effort. Nobody has the time or energy to do that on line at the supermarket. Most probably estimate.

BJaneckeonJuly 25, 2017

* Douglas Hofstadter - Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid

* Fred Brooks - Design Of Design

* Fred Brooks - The Mythical Man month

* Eric J. Evans - Domain Driven Design

* Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software

* Kent Beck - Extreme Programming Explained

* Kent Beck - Planning Extreme Programming

* Michael C. Feathers - Working Effectively with Legacy Code

* Daniel Kahneman - Thinking, Fast and Slow

[EDIT] Correct the author for legacy code

togsonMar 6, 2020

I’m confused because I thought the brain liked sugars:

“The bold implication of this idea is that the effects of ego depletion could be undone by ingesting glucose, and Baumeister and his colleagues have confirmed this hypothesis in several experiments.”

Kahneman, D. “Thinking, Fast and Slow”. 2011. pg. 43, para. 2, Se. 5.

ApolloFortyNineonAug 15, 2020

>Research in my own lab and others suggests that, if you want to improve your self-control, what you should do instead is focus on proactively reducing, rather than reactively overpowering temptation. Fortunately, there are several ways and opportunities to do this.

Am I the only one who has, many times, encountered people who say "I don't buy junk food because if I do I'll end up eating it?"

This is one of my gripes with psychology articles/self help books. So so many topics are simple 'revelations' that many of us have figured out by the time we are 20. Can't eat a cookie if you don't have any cookies.

I've read some good psychology books ("Thinking fast and slow" was great), but most of the others I've read I could have have read the one page summary and realized I don't need to read it.

ArkyBeagleonMar 3, 2016

This was a good read, as was "Thinking Fast and Slow".

I remember thinking, while watching "The Mentalist[1]" that people who are practiced in that sort of deception that the character Patrick Jane used probably mainly understand how to execute exploits on the interface between System 1 and System 2 thinking.

The wheel of fortune story sort of confirms that for me now.

[1] That was a pretty good show for network, for a while.

It also makes me wonder if people who are mistrustful of System 1 or somehow depend more on System 2 are somehow perceived as obnoxious by people who are not. I would think that a very potent source of friction.

DiabloD3onMar 4, 2020

Someone is probably going to quote that study where they say decision fatigue doesn't exist, and I'm going to head you off right now: It exists, everyone on HN has experienced it, and one of the best tools a successful businessman has is being able to differentiate between which decisions actually need their input, and none of us use that tool enough.

Case in point: it is 2 pm, I am on HN replying to this.

Also, someone is going to probably recommend reading "Thinking Fast and Slow". It's not at the top of my list of books to read, but you should read it once just so you understand the references to it.

mmaunderonJuly 25, 2016

Along the same vein, Daniel Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow does a comprehensive job of explaining why humans are really bad intuitive statisticians and how the systems in our brain make decisions. He's the authority on the subject and the book is revered by many in the psychology field and outside.

dbalanonDec 23, 2015

I finished "Thinking Fast and Slow" by Kahneman - A slow read, but a good one. He talks about the intricacies and surprising observations about how me take decisions.

"Logicomix" - A brief "history" of logic, its not always historically accurate. Did I tell you its a graphic novel?

"Show Your work" - Aston Kleon - A short motivating read about sharing ones work, he makes some good arguments for sharing the process as well, not just the product.

Picked up "Coders at work" - read two chapters, a great read so far (I know its pretty popular one amoung HN)

crypticaonOct 7, 2019

In my view 'critical thinking' is real thinking. There is a lot of misinformation and a lot of what we perceive as knowledge is in fact rhetoric. You need to learn to take everything with a grain of salt; sometimes that means you need to unlearn things along the way. Doubt is important.

I think it's good to read a variety of books with opposing viewpoints or with viewpoints which contradict popular ideas.

For non-fiction, the books 'Black Swan' and 'Fooled by Randomness' by Nassim Taleb were eye-openers for me. Also, I found an interesting synergy between Nassim's books and the book 'Thinking fast and Slow' by Daniel Kahneman (which is a book about human psychology).
Also, I enjoyed reading 'Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World'.

I don't read much fiction but it can be interesting sometimes. I read 'Brave New World' by Aldous Huxley many years ago and it's a book that appears to be becoming more relevant with time. I find that watching foreign films can also help to diversify my thinking.

billtionSep 6, 2017

That's an interesting theory. I've always played a lot of pool, and am good at math/geometry. Yet when I over-analyze a shot and think about what I'm about to attempt, I miss far more often than if I just rely on muscle memory/pattern recognition and take the shot without too much thought.

I think the understanding of angles, intersection points, transfer of energy, etc. helped me practice as a novice (as well as helped me stay interested). But to get really "good" at something, you need to work at it until most of the skills involved are almost subconscious. (Which aligns somewhat with what I recall from "Thinking fast and slow", which I thought was a great book).

ImaCakeonJan 8, 2021

Although I've read this before, its nice to re-read this now that I have started to pay a bit more attention to theory of mind. I don't have much to offer here except some resources for further exploration. Currently I am reading "Thinking Fast and Slow" which explores related ideas to what Wallace is getting at here but with the rigour of psychology (for all the caveats that come with that).

You could also try Sam Harris' "waking up" app which claims to achieve what is talked about in Wallace's essay through meditation. From my dabbling with it, it is somewhat true if not entirely true.

Finally you could explore broader works on the mind. I have been listening to audiobooks on animal intelligence ("Other Minds" and "The Genius of Birds") and have made a start on a history of psychology/psychiatry - "The Mind Fixers", which is a bit dry but also filled with wonderful anecdotes and stories.

tokenadultonFeb 4, 2012

What Intelligence Tests Miss: The Psychology of Rational Thought by Keith R. Stanovich



is great, as is Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.


vostrocityonJan 19, 2018

In Thinking, Fast and Slow, David Kahneman writes about "peak-end rule" - people tend to rate experiences by their peak level of emotion during the experience, and by the way experiences end.

My takeaway is if you want people to remember an experience positively, what matters is a high peak of pleasure, and to have a good end.

These are places where clever metaphors can help.

burtonatoronMay 25, 2019

Zero to One was stupid... just not every good.

Also... Peter Thiel was a huge Trump supporter. Dude obviously has some blind spots.

The Lean Startups is great...

Thinking, Fast and Slow is amazing but not sure it's really a startup book.

E-myth is great.

Art of war is awesome as is The Prince

A+ on "How To Win Friends and Influence People" it's an amazing book.

One of my key takeaways from this book is that if you hold people to a high standard of ethics and talent they usually won't let you down. Saying something like "I'm going to appoint you to this project as everyone on the team says you're responsible, motivated, and ethical" ... they won't let you down because that's how they view themselves inside.

sonabinuonSep 23, 2016

Adam Smith - Wealth of Nations

Keynes - The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money

Ben Bernanke - Essays on the Great Depression

Robert Shiller - Irrational Exuberance

Levitt and Dubner - Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

Daniel Kahneman - Thinking, fast and slow

jdegagonFeb 5, 2019

Thinking, Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman

Great book about our how humans think. He breaks our slow, logical reasoning as system 2, and our fast, automatic visceral processing. He points out we might think we have control over our thoughts and actions (system 1), but more often than not our System 1 is intervening or providing the true reasoning for our decisions. Great book to introspect your decision making and that of others.

WalterBrightonDec 31, 2014

I just finished reading "Thinking Fast and Slow" by Kahneman. He goes into great detail about our various cognitive biases, and how they constantly lead us astray. The most fascinating insight is how they still lead experienced statisticians astray in the same way, and even when these biases are pointed out to them! The mistakes keep coming.

We're not half as intelligent and rational as we believe we are.

maroonblazeronDec 1, 2018

I've not read "Thinking Fast and Slow" but long ago I read "Heuristics and Biases"[0] and attended one of Kahneman's talks during his tour promoting his newest book.

I couldn't help but think that TFaS was the product not so much of a desire to share some new insights he'd recently discovered but rather that he saw (or some publisher pointed out to him) how authors such as Pinker, Greene, Tyson, et al were garnering considerable attention and revenue translating sophisticated scientific topics developed by others for a lay audience. As if someone said to him: "Hey, you were involved in discovering some sophisticated and important topics, why don't you translate those to a lay audience?!"

I have great respect for Kahneman and H&B is a wonderful collection. However I find it peculiar that the entirety of TFaS seems, on the surface (again I've not read it) strikingly similar to essay #22 in H&B by Steven A. Sloman titled "Two Systems of Reasoning". In it he uses Kahneman's and Tversky's work to argue for two competing strategies for arriving at the truth: associative vs rule-based.

It's as if Kahneman is borrowing from Sloman who borrowed from Kahneman.


vanderZwanonJuly 19, 2013

> Whenever someone is phenomenally successful, whether it’s Rowling as an author, Bob Dylan as a musician or Steve Jobs as an innovator, we can’t help but conclude that there is something uniquely qualifying about them, something akin to “genius,” that makes their successes all but inevitable.

More people should read "Thinking Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman; it really breaks down how this and many similar biases work and gives suggestions on how to overcome them (althought he's brutally honest in saying that we'll probably keep being tricked by them anyway).

AlbertCoryonJune 30, 2021

"Software estimation" is not a specialized problem. Rather, it's just an example of what Daniel Kahneman calls "the planning fallacy." The same phenomena we see with software occur in many, many other fields.

Read "Thinking, Fast and Slow" where he talks about estimating the time to create a new textbook.

sp0konDec 6, 2020

I agree with most of the patterns from the article. I've came across them in "Thinking, Fast and Slow."

Daniel Kahneman states most of the flaws from the article come from "system 1" that's responsible for taking quick decisions without "deep thinking"

I'd strongly recommend the read. It helped me act less reactively.

harperleeonJuly 2, 2015

Amusingly human, if I may add. Reading "Thinking, fast and slow", by Daniel Kahneman, one key idea that I got was that even knowing against biases you are very, very likely to suffer from those biases. Disheartening results were gathered from studies done on well-trained psychologists and people prepared for the experiment, to no avail. Can't remember the details right now, but just read the book, it's awesome. Another good one was "Influence" by Cialdini, but they gave you tips on trying to avoid those biases that, upon reading Kahneman, I don't think anymore that are very useful.

theWheezonOct 10, 2018

While reading "Thinking, Fast and Slow" I was astonished by the priming effects, and the confidence with which Kahneman presented information about priming. I became obsessed with the priming concept and began doing further research, only to find countless articles discounting priming's legitimacy. I haven't been able to pick up the book since, because of the way in which the information was presented as sure fact, when in reality the research was early and inconclusive.

brianlouiswonFeb 8, 2012

Paying CEOs for 'performance' may not be a significant improvement unfortunately.

Daniel Kahneman, and Nassim Taleb have spoken about this - essentially that there's no good reason to think CEOs of large companys have any significant control over their company's outcomes. Our judgement is clouded by a combination of hindsight and narrative biases along with a significant underestimation of 'luck'. Kahneman quotes something like a .6 correlation IIRC. So, it CEO performance exists, it's just overestimated.

Kahneman's new book - Thinking Fast and Slow - is an excellent read.


jcutrellonJuly 12, 2018

B.E. is a subject I'm incredibly excited about. I'm glad to see this at the top of YC today.

Every (somewhat major) decision I'm making now, I'm constantly reminding myself of various biases and silliness that I participate in unwillingly (or even sometimes willingly).

I would say this study has been immensely helpful, and Thaler is a huge contributor to this for me. (Freakonomics, also, has been a great learning resource.)

For anyone interested in this subject, I recommend Thinking Fast and Slow by Kahneman. (You'd think I should get a referral bonus as often as I talk about this book.) It quite literally changed my life. Of course, Nudge is the other juggernaut in the field.

In fact, if anyone is particularly interested, I'd love to chat. Profile has contact details.

kingkongjaffaonJune 22, 2020

I swapped a copy of start with why by Simon Sinek


Thinking fast and slow by Daniel Kahneman

Both great books.

Start with why is good to understand how marketing and branding works, and how to do it better.

Thinking Fast and Slow is a great take on being conscious of your own cognition. It explains how to know whether we are making decisions with the correct thinking mode.

A lot of the time we rely on past experience and gut feel - the fast thinking mode. We do this in situations where actually the slow thinking mode might be better.

It's important to understand and be self aware of which one you are relying on, and strike the right balance.

Also a great book on how to get things right is the Checklist manifesto by Atul Gawande.

It's a fantastic story, of how the humble checklist can improve workflow quality tremendously.
From pilots running pre-flight checks to avoid plane failures.
To surgeons performing pre-surgery checks, vastly improving patient outcome and surgery success statistics.

We use checklists in our company to ensure we are building high quality products, and our customer support is to a high standard and uniform.

I would recommend all three.

kirvyteoonMar 11, 2017

If you read the book "Thinking fast and slow" (excellent book btw), one of the concepts is a baseline price. For example, if nobody knows the worth of your product, they tend to compare with an alternative - the closest competitive product or substitute. This gives you an idea of what you can charge. That defines your product price range. You cannot avoid the comparison because everyone googles, and if they can't find the equivalent, they will find the closest. This approach is not really scientific but I find that I can relate to this very easily then reading "X% says they will pay $100 for this" in a survey. Hope this helps.

quackedonMar 15, 2019

Well, I think that emotion isn't really a legitimate source of information, primarily because it's so subjective. How many relationships dissolve because one party is connecting their experience of an emotion to the actions of the other party, but it's all a complete misunderstanding?

Emotion serves as an indicator, but not as justifiable evidence or information. I still get angry, fearful, heartbroken, elated, etc. but I now spend a great deal of energy trying to make sure that I don't attach my experience of an emotion to a belief that the emotion gives me real, trustworthy information about the true state of the world.

I thought a great deal about this while I was reading "Thinking Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman, which I highly recommend.

enitihasonMay 12, 2020

Highly recommended for everyone: "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahenman.

If you have difficulty interacting with people

1. How to win friends and influence people (Easy read)
2. Seven habits of highly effective people (Harder read)

To learn how to write well:
On writing well

To understand how large products are made:
Show Stopper!: The Breakneck Race to Create Windows NT

kenned3onDec 12, 2018

Read your list, we have a bunch of books in common

Why Nations Fail (was an interesting read!)

Thinking Fast and Slow (This was on a lot of trader desks and was a good read.)

The Elephant In The Brain (this is the first audiobook i have ever listed to, agree, highly underrated.)

Principles (many years ago, I worked at BW for around 4 years... It was required reading, but remains one of my top recommended books. I actually own a copy of his original principals, and still bought the hard cover. Dalio's deep thinking is amazing).

humhumhumonMay 6, 2018

> That's like saying, he got a mortgage, shame on the bank for giving him free money!

> It's not free money. It's a loan that needs to be repaid. Market rate interests are also being paid on that loan. The government is making money from those bailouts.

You seem to know your econ. Maybe you could help me. Would you mind calculating the ROI for me on this ten year loan please? Must be similar to the market rates in 2008 I guess...

> But managing or investing money is still hard work (though different) and definitely not "free money".

There's a really good book that touches on this and has some nice case studies: Thinking fast and slow by Kahneman (econ nobel prize winner if I'm not wrong).

klenwellonMay 21, 2015

If you enjoyed this article, I highly recommend Daniel Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow, in which Thaler and insights like the one highlighted in this article feature prominently.

I also happened to stumble across this gem yesterday: Michael Lewis writing on Kahneman and his influence on Moneyball, the book and the revolution:


I was impressed by Kahneman's humility, although not at all surprised after reading the book.

One of these days, I'd like to start a discussion about Kahneman's recommendations for doing interviews from Thinking Fast and Slow. Just waiting for the right "Interviews are broken" thread, I guess.

Finally, in fairness to the article at hand, I should probably check out Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics when it comes out.

madhadrononMay 11, 2019

> Picture some serious non-fiction tomes. The Selfish Gene; Thinking, Fast and Slow; Guns, Germs, and Steel

Serious non-fiction tomes? I mean, I guess if you regard Harlequin romance as difficult novels. Okay, I'll stop giggling long enough to skim the rest.

Reading the rest, the core complaint seems to be that most people cannot effectively read and most people cannot effectively write. Which is true.

reversiontomeanonJune 17, 2014

Is it possible that what we're seeing here is a reversion to the mean[1] - CEOs who do particularly well some years get large pay packages, and then when their performance reverts to the mean in subsequent years they end up overpaid relative to performance?

[1] Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

iainmerrickonOct 24, 2016

This reminds me of Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking, Fast and Slow", which is terrific but probably oversells some of the research results.

Anyone know how well this new psychology stuff is surviving the replication crisis in the humanities?

Edit to add: less charitably, it also reminds me of Scott Adams' rambling blog posts about Donald Trump. Adams has persuaded himself that this persuasion stuff is like magic, and applies it to everything he sees. It's the new astrology.

kragenonFeb 28, 2021

I don't think it's that psychology books in general don't sell well. The nonfiction bestsellers list always has a lot of psychology books in it†! But when it was "POET," it got shelved in the psychology section of bookstores. So, if you went into a bookstore looking for help coping with your childhood traumas or marriage problem, you might run across this book about how industrial products and software were badly designed, and how to design them better, using new findings from cognitive psychology. But if you went into the bookstore to learn about how to design industrial products or software, you'd end up in the "design" or "software" section, so you wouldn't find it.


† Right now Amazon's nonfiction bestseller list https://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Kindle-Store-Nonfiction/... has "The Psychopath" at #1, "Mindset" at #2, "Master Your Emotions" at #18, "The 7 Habits" at #21, "Girl, Stop Apologizing" at #28, "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do" at #31, "The Declutter Challenge" at #34, and "Thinking, Fast and Slow" at #50, plus a number of gray-area books; the New York Times has "Think Again" at #11. I think it's fair to say that psychology books sell a buttload.

mcguireonMay 26, 2020

Then stripped the DRM off and shared it with friends.

And then pointed to a piracy site and said he'd never pay for a book again.

On the other hand, you can get Thinking, Fast and Slow for free: https://b-ok.cc/book/1214612/224dc8?dsource=mostpopular

Or Hackers and Painters, ANSI Common LISP, and On LISP.

vishnuguptaonMar 31, 2014

While I will not be able to advice you about the choice of investment owing to my nationality, I highly recommend reading following books. Cover-to-cover if you can.

1. The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham.
2. Irrational Exuberance by Robert J. Shiller.
3. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

OK, here's advice anyway :). Please, please do diversify your investments across different classes of products ; Equity, Debt, assets such as Gold or land and so on.

The proportion may vary according to your risk appetite, but do diversify.

mockingbirdyonSep 7, 2018

I would recommend books like Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking, Fast and Slow" and Dobelli's "The Art of Thinking Clearly". Maybe also "How to win friends and influence people" for good leadership mentality. And Erich Fromm's "The Art of Listening" for empathetic leadership.

I've read a couple of consulting books, but psychology books helped me more. Most good consulting books are essentially applied psychology books IMO.

Focussed on a related topic because most good books were already mentioned.

alankay1onMay 31, 2016

Well, Gregory missed some important ideas in that book (partly from his background I think, and partly from his personality). You might get some perspective from looking at his last book "Mind and Nature". And, in many ways, much more powerful looks at "mind" are Minsky's "Society of Mind" and "The Emotion Machine". There is also Kahneman's "Thinking: Fast and Slow" more recently ...

ljw1001onNov 27, 2016

TLDR: Get educated. Get Angry. Get Inspired. Take the time to read a great book.

It's ironic that people are arguing that books are a waste of time - on HN.

There are certainly too many one-idea books, but there are also many extraordinary, irreplicable works: A Pattern Language, Thinking Fast and Slow, The Landscape of History, The Modern Firm, The Diffusion of Innovations, Bowling Alone, The Life You Can Save, And the Band Played On, and on and on.

qwerty456127onJuly 12, 2021

Is "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman really worth reading the whole book? I feel like I understand the phenomenon it describes (and I believe a page or two is more than enough to explain it), I'm glad somebody described it popularly and attracted attention of wide audience raising their awareness. But reading a 500 pages book is a huge investment of time and mental energy. What's there one might find worth it?

nicoburnsonJune 5, 2020

You might be right about brains being better at certain kinds of tasks, but I don't think it's right to think of them as having only one processing mode.

Someone else mentioned "Thinking, Fast and Slow", and I find it fascinating how closely the two thinking modes in that book seem to map to CPU (mostly serial) and GPU (parallel) processing. It also claims that people have natural preferences for each mode of thinking, which is super interesting as it suggests that the tasks that brains are best at performing will vary from person to person (I guess this is obvious, but perhaps gets lost when we start comparing to computers).

I'd bet on brains getting a lot of their efficiency from tight integration of CPU-like, GPU-like, and ASIC-like, and full on analog components. We'd probably have to apply deep-learning like approaches to the hardware design itself to get close.

ath92onOct 22, 2020

I think it's important to realise that anybody can be influenced, even smart people who look at any information with healthy criticism.

Unfortunately, the human brain is not without its problems. One of those problems is that information that is repeated often will start to "feel" true, even if it is false. If you want to read about these kinds of biases, I'd recommend the book Thinking, fast and slow by Daniel Kahneman.

With platforms like YouTube, it's incredibly easy to get stuck in a filter bubble. Their recommendation algorithm is more than happy to keep recommending you conspiracy theories, because users seem to like those, and the algorithm doesn't care about the actual content.

And once you've watched 10 of those videos, the 11th will no longer sound as ridiculous as it would have if you had watched it without first being (perhaps subconsciously) influenced by those first 10 videos.

This is a real risk of algorithm-based recommendation platforms, and something that Google/Facebook are trying to address now because it has already caused real problems in society.

troubleonOct 17, 2018

I've had a pretty similar experience. Get exercise, sleep, food and hydration under control, then (in my case) medication helps me make the most of that structure.

I actually just wrote a giant post [1] about what I've learned about managing ADHD so far. It focuses on the core stuff, but I want to follow it up with a breakdown of how books like Deep Work (e.g. Flow; Farsighted; Thinking, Fast and Slow; How Not to be Wrong) have made a difference for me.

[1] https://medium.com/@sashacollecutt/life-with-adhd-a61cae5a5b...

quackedonJune 14, 2019

You're a little incorrect, but understandably so; the term "rationalist" refers to "rational thinking", which in turn is a term snatched from Daniel Kahneman's book "Thinking Fast and Slow", which summarizes a great deal of revolutionary findings in the fields of cognitive psychology.

However, I agree- they should have picked another name. "Rationalism" already exists. Furthermore, it's an arrogant name to have- calling your group "rational" implies that anyone who's not in your group is not rational.

cbanekonMay 9, 2018

1. Mythical Man Month - obvious reasons

2. Deathmarch: The Complete Software Developer's Guide to Surviving 'Mission Impossible' Projects- also a classic.

3. Thinking fast and slow - a great introduction to biases that will affect your thinking in any project.

4. The Art of War - strategy and tactics for attacking any problem. My personal favorite translation is by Thomas Cleary.

haddronMar 24, 2015

A very similar example gives Kahneman in his book "Thinking, Fast and Slow" (a great read for those interested in cognitive biases). He calles it "The illusion of understanding". Using an example of Google and a number of books depicting Page and Brinn as role models and geniuses, who leaded the company into its great success by taking always the right decisions.
It is of course easy to say so knowing already that Google is a successful company. It would be very hard to tell it 15 years ago.
Also when you study the history of Google you learn that there was a lot of luck involved, and you won't learn how to build the next google from those books.

kulonDec 26, 2012

The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes.

I first heard about it in Michael Lewis' Vanity Fair profile on Obama (Obama was reading it - http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/2012/10/michael-lewis-pro...), and then my cofounder Omar mentioned it as an engrossing book whilst he was reading it, specifically because of the topic it handles: the malleability of our memories.

Anyway, it was a pleasure to read, captivating, and the imagery jumping out of the pages was brilliant. I frequently had to stop and re-read parts. It also made me laugh.

A personal favourite sentence:

"History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation."

It won the Man Booker prize last year.



On the non-fiction side, probably "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Kahneman, though I haven't quite finished it. It's dense, but filled with insight after insight.

perchardonSep 13, 2019

I enjoyed TFS but tend to agree with this review:

> Thinking Fast and Slow is my runner-up for “book most overrated by investors” (with Klarman’s Margin of Safety the champion.) People who pitch this book as “required reading” simply haven’t read broadly enough about cognitive biases: while the content is certainly useful and I don’t take anything away from Kahneman as a researcher, his writing/communication/worldview leave much to be desired, and the same lessons can be learned far more effectively and enjoyably via a variety of other books (many of which are suggested below).


corysamaonJune 21, 2016

I am completely ignorant. So, it's going take a lot more than three books :) How about I blindly guess at my own answer and ask for alternatives?

1) Start with books like: How To Read A Book, Thinking Fast and Slow

2) Then, move on to books like: The Secret of Childhood, Instead of Education, Mindstorms

3) Then, you are ready for: Flow, The Children's Machine

Thanks for coming back to answer more questions.

If you've missed 'Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind', I do recommend it. IMHO, Gladwell's Blink was HBTM with most of the material replaced with funny stories.

rosspackardonFeb 19, 2016

I am in the process of building a service like that too. Mainly because I want it for vetting the candidates that I am trying to hire (I am a principle engineer who also manages).

My focus has been on these things:

-easily distributing and receiving challenges privately (not through github or email)

-tool to help easily and quickly manually review code

-a library of challenges that aren't algorithms based (think like a challenge to fix a bug in a moderately sized system, building a feature onto an existing codebase... I have many ideas for these)

-example qualitative scoring systems (the idea of which comes from Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman's book 'Thinking, Fast and Slow')

quietbritishjimonFeb 16, 2021

> As an economics grad

This perhaps explains the rest of your comment :-) Often in economic theory it's assumed that people are totally rational, and often rationality is assumed to include sociopathic levels of self interest. Daniel Kahneman, the author of Thinking Fast and Slow, uses the word "econ" to describe the mythical creature that statisfies these properties. He makes the point that most people are not econs to some lesser or greater extent (either because they don't fully act in their own self interest or otherwise don't act fully "rationally" in the economic theory sense).

I often leave online reviews because I feel it's the right thing to do, even if I personally don't benefit from them. In part, I feel like they're payment for reviews others have left which I've used, even though an econ wouldn't bother because those other reviews would exist regardless of my "payment".

I do get your point towards the end of your comment that it's easy enough to come up with fake reviews, either by paying some econ-ish people or just using a machine. I'm talking more about the earlier point about recommendation from your neighbour only being reliable because of the consequences of a poor review.

yaoxx151onDec 4, 2020

While I like the strategy in general, I want to challenge the first point "Have a clear WHY I’m reading this book". I think reading books is like exercise, it doesn't matter which part of muscle it trains, as long as you keep doing it, it'll improve your health overall. I find that the best part of reading books for me comes mostly from the unconscious influence--often after I read a book, I can't tell you what I remember specifically and how it would improve my life. But if I'm lucky, one day the idea will come to my mind at the right time. I find myself dislike the mindset of having a purpose on reading. For me, the meaty part of reading is the process of searching, not the results. And you can guess that I dislike reading self-help books. I don't think we can change our behaviors by reading a book. knowing something is easy, practice is hard.

Interestingly, the author mentions he's reading Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow. In a talk[1], Daniel says "This is not really a self-help book. And of course it's very easy for me to say because I've been studying it. Not only I've read the book, I wrote it. Didn't improve my thinking at all."

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgQutgSwY88&feature=youtu.be...

comboyonMay 5, 2018

Very nice of the author (of the article) to mention Kahneman who has done so much research around this stuff (if you haven't yet read Thinking Fast and Slow I highly recommend it)

Regarding the title, I'd say choose your profession in a way that you don't have to choose between work and play. You are reading HN so you're likely in a position to have many options. Life's too short to be doing things that don't feel like playing.

Especially given that everything is playing whether you realize it or not because the universe, entropy and purpose but that's a whole another story.

But even from purely financial point of view, it's likely that you will be better off by becoming master at what you consider to be a fun game.

aaron695onJan 24, 2020

This illogical talk is because of "Thinking, Fast and Slow", Chapter 4, which Daniel Kahneman has since questioned.


USCSB has great work place accident round ups (CGI, no gore). Of course Expertise is what makes the workplace safer, it has no dark side.

Here's Murphy's law (If it's possible for it to happen, given enough time it will, so don't allow it to physically happen wherever possible over processes)


m12konJan 23, 2021

I'd say so - it's a very accessible introduction to behavioral economics. Similarly, "Stumbling on Happiness" is an easy introduction to the psychology of happiness, but also tells you a lot about perception, memory and decision-making, and the illusions and biases we have. And finally "Thinking, Fast and Slow" is a slightly deeper and longer but still accessible book that digs into the details about how many of the biases we have (that the other books talk about) arise due to the interplay between the conscious and unconscious parts of our brains - it felt like a deeper explanation, but I'm glad I read after reading about most of the biases before in the "lighter" books.

bxk1onNov 24, 2020

> The elephant in the room not addressed in this essay is the widespread use of bad faith arguments, and the absence or dismissal of evidence in preference of beliefs and feelings. On some issues it can be extremely difficult to find good faith arguments and evidence on each side of the issue.

"Good faith", "bad faith" labeling is not logical, it's more of an attempt to apply morality and ideology to reasoning to reject something based on your own preferred beliefs and feelings. Similarly illogical is evaluating evidence "from each side", this is not how to evaluate anything, there needs to be some base rate to compare the evidence to and all the evidence has to be compared, not just something cherry picked from each side, and not just evidence, known unknowns and unknown unknowns have to be considered too, and so on. It's way more complicated than people want it to be.

And it's very hard to have good logical arguments not full of fallacies. You will certainly never see them in mass media, as mass media needs to influence your opinion, not provide background for making a good decision.

Daniel Kahneman in his Thinking fast and slow book wrote plenty on reasoning, check it out if you haven't, it'll open your eyes on reasoning (I know the book had some crucial things wrong for his theory, but a lot of things throughout the book are still ok).

adriandonApr 30, 2016

It's easy to criticize Mayer but I think the expectations of what she could have achieved were pretty wildly out of whack. I'm reminded of Daniel Kahneman's dissection of CEO performance and the book "Built to Last", in his book, "Thinking Fast and Slow":

> The basic message of Built to Last and other similar books is that good managerial practices can be identified and that good practices will be rewarded by good results. Both messages are overstated. The comparison of firms that have been more or less successful is to a significant extent a comparison between firms that have been more or less lucky.

> Because luck plays a large role, the quality of leadership and management practices cannot be inferred reliably from observations of success. And even if you had perfect foreknowledge that a CEO has brilliant vision and extraordinary competence, you still would be unable to predict how the company will perform with much better accuracy than the flip of a coin. On average, the gap in corporate profitability and stock returns between the outstanding firms and the less successful firms studied in Built to Last shrank to almost nothing in the period following the study. The average profitability of the companies identified in the famous In Search of Excellence dropped sharply as well within a short time. A study of Fortune’s “Most Admired Companies” finds that over a twenty-year period, the firms with the worst ratings went on to earn much higher stock returns than the most admired firms.

Mayer wasn't lucky. But I bet she's far more competent than most of us.

bumbyonJuly 2, 2019

In the early part of his book "Thinking, Fast and Slow" Kahneman essentially says the book will help one identify the biases in other people but we're somewhat helpless to see them within ourselves.

For anyone who hasn't read this book, it's worthwhile if only to humble oneself into realizing we're rarely as rational as we'd like to think.

sowhatquestiononAug 30, 2016

Was anyone else disturbed by Strack and Martin's hand-waving away the null replication result? Based on my (admittedly elementary) knowledge of statistics, it seems like 17 replication attempts (samples) whose means are distributed around zero constitute some pretty airtight empirical evidence that there's no inner emotional effect from smiling. How else to read Strack and Martin's complaints but as a kind of special pleading that there was something ineffable about the experiment that the replications missed? Some of their comments gesture in the direction of claiming that replication may be literally impossible.

I walked away from this article more convinced than ever that there are big problems with this field of research. And I don't "want" to believe it, either -- I loved Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow.

Speaking of which, kudos to Kahneman himself for being (apparently) a more committed empiricist than the other psychologists discussed here.

cossatotonOct 10, 2013

Fortunately, there are a couple examples of serious researchers who are also excellent (though maybe not as well known) popularizers. Daniel Kahneman (Thinking Fast and Slow) and Steven Strogatz (Sync, etc.) come immediately to mind, because I have read them recently. I have some books by Benoit Mandlebrot in shipping, and I am quite excited about them.

If anyone has other examples, I would love to hear them--I'm trying to pack my immediate reading list right now and am currently uninterested in fiction.

arthurjjonDec 8, 2014

Having a 30 minute subway commute I'm looking forward to seeing what suggestions come out of this thread. My two suggestions:

1. Thinking fast and slow - Understanding how we actually think as opposed to how we think we think is a critical skill, especially in a startup. Having a Nobel prize winner explain how the two systems of your brain work together (and can sabotage you) was enlightening and enjoyable. This book helped me understand many aspects of design and sales that had been black boxes for me


2. Art and Fear - This is a book nominally about the relationship between artists and how they go about making art but it is useful for anyone creative. It's about how to go about making when you have errands to run, a deadline, or just don't feel like it. As a dev I found it inspiring


MarkMconApr 21, 2018

You don't need a metric which captures everything about the case - you just need a statistical model whose risk assessment is at least as accurate as the surgeon's assessment. This is not as difficult as it sounds - in Chapter 21 of Thinking Fast and Slow, Kahneman makes a strong case that simple algorithms are very often better than expert clinical judgement.

wool_gatheronApr 20, 2020

You need to set it ahead, not behind. ;) Otherwise you'll be even more late.

I'm sure it doesn't work for everyone, but I've been doing this for years, and it does help me. Yes, of course you always know that it's ahead, but it takes a moment for that fact to register, and that moment can be just long enough to incite action.

(For those who have read Thinking Fast and Slow, I think this is sort of a "hack" of System 1.) Basically I'm leveraging the reactive part of my mind to help me achieve the result that the more strategic part wants.

calnyonAug 13, 2021

I found Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow persuasive on this question. I don’t have a psych or neuro degree, but Crudely speaking and possibly butchering it: the mind reflects two types of thinking, which Kahneman terms System 1 (fast) and System 2 (slow). System 1 is closer to instinct and helps us respond quickly in, for example, fight or flight situations. System 2 requires significant mental effort to more thoroughly analyze things like complex math problems. It’s easier to coast on System 1 thinking. The book provides examples and much better and more in depth explanations. There was a replication controversy about some of it, but still very worth reading I think.

paulsutteronSep 26, 2015

Well if he read it, he certainly didn't understand it.

> When I was young I used to read pseudohistory books; Immanuel Velikovsky's Ages in Chaos is a good example of the best this genre has to offer. I read it and it seemed so obviously correct, so perfect,

This guy believes in PROVING PSEUDOHISTORY. It's hard to understand what that even means, but let's look at specifics:

"Noah's Flood couldn't as a cultural memory...

- of the fall of Atlantis

- of a change in the Earth's orbit

- of a lost Ice Age civilization or

- of megatsunamis from a meteor strike."

A generous person could give these a 1% chance of being right. Maybe a 5% chance if you had a very convincing argument.

A gullible person might give one a 30% chance of being true.

But it is utter nonsense to assign 100% probability to any of these (that's what proof means, it means 100% likely). These just aren't provable matters.

Circling back to Kahneman, it really seems that he's getting persuaded by intuitive arguments, and the book "Thinking Fast and Slow" really dives into how this happens.

pier25onMar 9, 2019

This reminds me of an anecdote in the book "Thinking Fast and Slow".

A set of experts (including the author of the book) sat down to complete an education project (like a program or something). They estimated it would take them 1 year, at the most. It took them 7 years.

It is extremely difficult to estimate the needed resources to solve a problem. Especially a problem you have never solved before.

trabant00onSep 22, 2020

For the given examples: The Selfish Gene; Thinking, Fast and Slow; Guns, Germs, and Steel, there is another issue not covered in the article: the books are philosophical interpretations of some facts the author chose to support their theories. Even more so, some of those facts and studies have been since debunked.

So for these examples it is my opinion that it's not a case of books not working, but of very healthy brain garbage collector discarding information that is not actionable and in a lot of cases not even correct. Popular edutainment is not exactly "some serious non-fiction tomes".

kashyapconNov 19, 2020

Speaking of biology ... I'm about 60% through the 720-page tome, 'Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst' by Robert Sapolsky. "Electrifying" indeed, as a blurb at the back of the book puts it. The narrative structure is quite compelling, where Sapolsky starts by examining a behavior in the present and gradually zooms out, all the way back to evolutionary factors from millennia ago. The book also provides helpful primers on neuroscience, endocrinology (important to understand the impact of hormones), and proteins. Take a good three months to read it; really.

So far my only quibble is that Sapolsky cites the infamous "priming" study from 'Thinking, Fast and Slow', which the author, Daniel Kahneman, himself has retracted it elsewhere. This is forgivable, as the retraction from Kahneman (Feb 2017) and the release of 'Behave' (May 2017) were too close. Though I'll keep an eye for other transgressions.

Regardless of my quibbling, 'Behave' has so far been an exhilarating read; it covers an insane amount of ground, all while not losing sight of its goal—a better understanding of human nature.

Don't let the page count discourage you—you'll quickly warm up to Sapolsky's loquacious writing style, peppered with tasteful humor and a deep love for science. And don't skip the footnotes; plenty of interesting bits in there. (Get the hardcover edition if you can, it's much less unwieldy during back-and-forth flipping, among other benefits.)

tedksonApr 1, 2013

You appear to be living in the psychology of about a century ago.

I'd recommend Daniel Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow as a good layperson's introduction to cognitive psychology in the fields of decision-making and estimation.

I also suggest you see http://mres.gmu.edu/pmwiki/uploads/Main/Hedges1987.pdf for a review of the degree of consistency within psychology and physics.

snarf21onFeb 5, 2017

I agree. Basically what I read was that removing all the stress from your life, makes it easy to make the decisions you desire. That seems a lot like willpower to me but apparently the author considers willpower to be X not Y, but that also begs the question: who is he to say? I think it is something different and so does everyone else in their own unique way.

What ever it is called, we face decisions in life. Do I get up with the alarm to go to work and earn a living or do I stay in bed (continually) and get fired? What's for breakfast? What to wear? Which way to travel? ....... Now, a lot of these decisions are pretty easy to make but that changes day to day. It largely comes down to this: When we have the mental energy and aren't stressed, we tend to think through our decisions, weighing pros and cons. When we are stressed or upset or depleted, we tend to react and just choose something and ignore consequences. Saying "just remove the stress" is just as hard and unreasonable as "just choose to stop drinking".

Anyone who is interested in this subject should also read Thinking: Fast and Slow.
It goes fairly deep into the kinds of studies and implications of choice referenced in this article.

gault8121onNov 13, 2013

In regards to psychology, read Daniel Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow. Kahneman describes fast thinking as the instantaneous, subconscious judgements we make, while slow thinking is the conscious, articulated thoughts we have. Kahneman shows how there is a huge disconnect between these two systems, and how this influences our behavior.

Another excellent book is Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. It looks at how people are convinced into doing things (e.g. the effectiveness of various methods of advertising), and how you can guard yourself against these psychological mechanisms. The title sounds cheesy, but it is an excellent book full of concrete, interesting examples.

I'd highly recommend both books. While they may sound sort of salesy, both books deeply examine the process of making a decision.

rkrzronDec 21, 2014

Thanks for pointing this out. Even though I read Kahneman's "Thinking fast and slow", I did not truly understand that intelligence and rationality are orthogonal concepts. I've always implicitly assumed that intelligence is strongly correlated with rationality, but it seems there is a mild correlation at best: " it is a mild predictor at best, and some rational thinking skills are totally dissociated from intelligence"[0]


StavrosKonFeb 25, 2013

I can read pretty quickly (I've never really measured, but it takes me about a minute to read a page, which I guess is around 500 words). Depending on the text, though, there's a lot of slowing down or re-reading. I read Harry Potter pretty quickly, but "Thinking: Fast and Slow" is nowhere near at the same pace.

vannevaronApr 26, 2016

Daniel Kahneman's book "Thinking Fast and Slow" is a great overview of the field of cognitive bias. For a more academic treatment of his research, check out "Heuristics and Biases". The part of his work most relevant to project estimation can be found in the "planning fallacy" section. Aside from Kahneman, there are numerous papers on software estimation, many of which note these consistent biases (for example Jørgensen, https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/fd87/d248dd55f59d8d93742fb3...).

mitchelldeacon9onOct 13, 2016

Hello, I studied economics and statistics in college and grad school, and worked as a teaching assistant for undergraduate statistics courses. Here is a short, annotated bibliography of my favorite statistics books.

1. Ayres, Ian (2007) Super Crunchers: Why Thinking by Numbers is the New Way to Be Smart

[Good introductory summary of the main concepts in statistics with many real-world examples]

2. Bernstein, Peter (1996) Against the Gods: Remarkable Story of Risk

[Intellectual history of statistics, accessible to beginning students.]

3. Healey, Joseph (2005) Statistics: A Tool for Social Research, 7E

[This is the text book that was used in the undergraduate statistics courses while I was working as a teaching assistant at UC Santa Cruz.]

4. Kahneman, Daniel (2011) Thinking, Fast and Slow

[Kahneman combines cognitive psychology with statistical concepts; highly recommended]

5. Silver, Nate (2012) Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail, but Some Don't

[Silver's book offers an excellent summary of major concepts in statistics and how they are applied to real-world problems]

6. Taleb, Nassim Nicholas (2005) Fooled by Randomness, 2E

_________ (2010) Black Swan: Impact of the Highly Improbable, 2E

[Important critique of statistics and how it is mis-used and mis-applied, particularly in econometrics]

Hope this helps. Shoot me an email if you have any questions. Good luck.

cannonedhamsteronJuly 5, 2019

Nope, just re-read the entire article. Your using the search function doesn't seem to have been appropriate to the task nor does it address the entire context of my comment.

I'll break down my points to make myself simpler to understand as my points seems to have been misunderstood which is a lack of clarity on my part.

1. The author isn't a writer by trade. Just as coders develop best practices, writers do as well. It's not fair to judge the author for bias based on his writing style if he's not someone who's been trained on this.

2. It's entirely possible that this particular COO was one of many, however they were so odious as to cause a more emotional reaction, which isn't related to gender. As far as gender specific comments there aren't many one about a man and to about one particular woman. We may be more sensitive to this now as this article was written before the MeToo movement really gained stride, so it's possible we're seeing this through our current understanding without taking into account that we've shifted as a culture since then.

3. The third possibly is that there's an inherent bias. It's a possibility, but it's not a definite, and certainly even if there is a bias it didn't reflect terribly on the author as it's really minor. I have biases, you have biases, they were/are an important function in quick decision making that can save lives or not. The book "Thinking Fast and Slow" goes into this really well if you're interested.

Hopefully this clarifies better what I was attempting to address.

cossatotonSep 18, 2015

This isn't correct. The statistical power of n=5 humans is quite low.

It is, however, a good example of the "law of small numbers" of Tversky and Kahneman, a cognitive bias in which people believe that the law of large numbers applies to small numbers as well.

See Tversky and Kahneman 1971, or Kahneman's fantastic recent book Thinking, Fast and Slow which is an excellent guide to how our cognitive biases can wrongly influence our thinking.

JohnHammersleyonJuly 25, 2015

I've upvoted you because, whilst it may not have been the most useful way of putting it, I agree that luck plays a large part (and I'm a founder myself). As others have pointed out though, there are a lot of things you can do to try to maximize your chances of being 'lucky', and a lot of good advice for founders is essentially this.

For those interested in reading more about the role of luck (amongst other very interesting discussions about how we make decisions), I'd heartily recommend reading "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman (and "The Black Swan" by Nassim Nicholas Taleb too as a nice complement).

bonytonFeb 26, 2020

In Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow, there is an interesting section on intuition, and specifically the intuition of experts. It says something very similar, that "intuition is nothing more and nothing less than recognition." With expertise, one has more things that they can recognize, and they can do so quickly and almost effortlessly.

brdonNov 20, 2013

Habits > forced tasks. Cultivate good habits wherever possible.

As for building up will power, I've found that distance running is an excellent way to hone your determination. Distance running is essentially the act of pushing yourself when you want to quit.

There are plenty of books on the subject if you'd like to study up on it more. Thinking Fast and Slow, Drive, Switch are all good books on the subject that immediately come to mind.

lkrychonFeb 5, 2019

Non-Fiction (Science)

  - *The Selfish Gene* by Richard Dawkins

- *The Righteous Mind* by Jonathan Haidt

- *Thinking, Fast and Slow* by Daniel Kahneman

Non-Fiction (Social)

  - *The Art of Not Being Governed* by James C. Scott

- *The Unwinding* by George Packer

- *People's History of the United States* by Howard Zinn


  - *East of Eden* by John Steinbeck

- *Sometimes a Great Notion* by Ken Kesey

- *The Brothers Karamazov* by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

edit: formatting

SymmetryonSep 11, 2014

You're only using a certain percent at a time, but all the different sections of your brain do different things. And they are lazy when they can get away with it, read Thinking, Fast and Slow for some more details but even when you're thinking hard you're not using your whole brain. It's not at all obvious to me that the glucose supply, oxygen supply, or cooling of the brain are sufficient for you to run it at 100% without dying.

WalterBrightonFeb 11, 2018

> Forget trading on the stock market. You will lose.

Cognitive biases have a large effect on minimizing one's returns. I recommend reading "Thinking Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman for an analysis of how those biases sabotage one's returns.

Those biases are hard to overcome even when you're aware of them, but at least one can try :-)

nkurzonJuly 4, 2016

Same book, but obviously we have different "triggers". Like 'freshhawk', I found Kahneman's book to be astonishingly full of faulty logic and difficult to finish, but I have no problem reading Gladwell. Here's an HN thread from a a few years ago with my summary of Thinking, Fast and Slow: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3431815

Perhaps it's that Kahneman is in the "uncanny valley" between science and popular writing. Since Gladwell is (for me) safely on the popular side, I find him engaging rather than misleading. But I'm pushed away by Kahneman's apparent overconfidence in places that I'm certain he's wrong, including such examples as Jason gives.

treehau5_onAug 14, 2016

Yeah, well to be honest my wife still struggles with understanding my depression/anxiety (but getting better) but I seeked outside therapy in combination with CBT and also a couple other self help books like Mindset and Thinking Fast and Slow to just help me be able to reflect and recognize what/where my feelings and perceptions truly are. This, plus getting back to exercising, despite how much I wanted not to helped me tremendously. You truly can overcome any situation. Fortunately for most tech workers in this country you most likely have good insurance and access to therapy. Other countries may not have formal therapy, but the other societal and familial constructs are stronger.

itsmejeffonJuly 27, 2020

Truthfully — the biggest thing has been leaning into my gut more as opposed to trying to reason through everything thoroughly. The decisions are many and the time is short. Kahneman’s “Thinking Fast and Slow” is a great read, and when working in engineering management, the conclusion to be drawn from it is that your gut (aka system 1) is actually really good at summing all of your past experience and telling you what you should do. There is definitely more in the domain of human psychology that I have studied as well.

In addition, I’ve been forced to continue to hone my technical skills, but more in the domain of “why” instead of “how”. I was able to be an effective engineer by mastering the “how” (which of course required some non-zero knowledge of “why”). However, the types of minds that exist in engineering (or at least the types I want on my team), are not satisfied with a boss telling them “how” to do something. The reasoning must be sound. Engineers want to see the work. If you can’t provide compelling arguments for why a new policy or decision exists, then you quickly lose credibility.

oddlyaromaticonSep 5, 2017

Thinking Fast and Slow was really good, I've listened to it a couple of times. As a framework for thinking about working and learning it really clicked with me. I think I've been gently influenced by this book in many ways, including how I set my expectations about other people, and what "system" they might be employing at any moment. This has helped reduce my overall stress levels and increased my patience with myself and others. Even if the science isn't 100% perfect (is it ever?), these are usable models that approximate behavior and can be practical when taken with a grain of salt.

tendeeronSep 11, 2014

Very well written article that allowed a non-biologist but engineer like me to follow. Systems Biology is quickly becoming one of the most interesting fields, IMO.

The observations about organisms catching up and slowing down is consistent with (the regression to the mean)[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regression_toward_the_mean]. Although it's something I only recently read about in Daniel Kahnemnan's Thinking Fast and Slow, it's applicability is widespread; so much so that I was not surprised seeing it in action here.

One thing that I do not fully agree with (or maybe that I do not fully understand) is the final evolutionary endpoint was measured simply by it's ability to grow in specific lab conditions. While this is a necessary condition for equality of endpoints, it is in no way a sufficient one. It is very possible, and even highly likely that while that goal of fitness is optimized for, evolution changes the final organism's way of reacting to other phenomena. I'm not sure if there is a better way to quantify equality (or some notion of edit distance) though.

jerfonApr 9, 2020

"Abelian" is at least a fresh new concept to hang your own associations off of, with no previous interference, and without interference from the similarly-named "Adelian" groups or something equally stupid.

The problem isn't just that the term is something you've never heard before, but that "I" and "II" is not a very good concept to try to hang them off of. This is relevant to software engineering naming too: In general, you should not use naming schemes that imply properties that don't actually exist in your values. I and II have all sorts of properties that don't apply to the terms in question, most noticeably, they have an order. But, which is "first", false positives or false negatives? They don't have a natural order. Using numbers to name them just gets in the way.

(Especially when there are perfectly serviceable words.)

Math jargon isn't perfect by any means. But it does at least avoid naming things by sheer numbers most of the time, unless there isn't really a choice because it needs a few hundred names right now.

(Similarly, pop quiz: In Kahneman's classification scheme, is System 1 the fast or the slow system? Odds are, even if you get that right, it's because the book title "Thinking, Fast and Slow" is something that stuck and it happen to be in order. It probably wasn't because you remember them by number.)

ApolloFortyNineonJune 28, 2019

Is this just not classic recency bias? Many TV shows feature a gay couple/character, and gay marriage was in the national news for years. People are shown examples through media constantly, and therefore think it's more prevalent than it really is.

This applies to almost all issues too, plane accidents being one of the more obvious ones (plane travel is many times safer than car travel, and yet many people don't see it that way).

Thinking Fast and Slow is a great book that covers at length recency bias and its affects [1]. Quite eye opening to me was one study where people were asked to spin a wheel with 1-100, and then asked how many African nations are in the UN. The number on the wheel had a profound affect on the number people picked [2], despite the fact that the number on the wheel should clearly has no meaning.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Fast-Slow-Daniel-Kahneman/dp...

[2] https://www.realclearscience.com/lists/10_problems_with_how_...

mindcrimeonDec 28, 2019

I'd have to go back through my Goodreads list to see exactly which books that I read which fell into this decade versus another. But of the stuff that I've ready pretty recently, the couple that jump to mind immediately are:

Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter

Thinking: Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

The Education of Millionaires: Everything You Won't Learn in College About How to Be Successful by Michael Ellsberg

I'm almost sure it was slightly over a decade ago, but I'll go ahead and throw in a mention of The Four Steps to the Epiphany by Steve Blank. I consider it one of the most influential books I've read, period.

Also, in terms of fiction, I'd add

Permutation City by Greg Egan, and the Foundation Trilogy by Asimov (that one's cheating a little as that was a re-read, but they are still very good).

kumartarunonDec 25, 2020

"Thinking fast and Slow". It took around four and a half months to read it. I got the answers to some of the great mysteries related to human behavior.
For example,
- Why don't good people keep their promises?
- Why do people don't change their miserable life when their actions could change many things?
- Why does charisma trump intelligence in most of the debates?
- Why is it hard to change a habit?
- Why do people judge so quickly.

It had a profound impact on me. After reading that book, I stopped trying to be silent when I was feeling angry.
I invested in my relationships with family and friends a lot.
I realized the biggest problem in the Tech industry is not the technology but the people. I became empathetic to introverted people.

astrofinchonJune 13, 2012

This finding wouldn’t surprise Kahneman, who admits in “Thinking, Fast and Slow” that his decades of groundbreaking research have failed to significantly improve his own mental performance. “My intuitive thinking is just as prone to overconfidence, extreme predictions, and the planning fallacy”—a tendency to underestimate how long it will take to complete a task—“as it was before I made a study of these issues,” he writes.

Doesn't Kahnman distinguish between intuitive and deliberate thinking? So it could be possible to think better by distrusting our intuitions and deliberating more, right?

gatherhuntereronSep 3, 2019

I can't provide exactly what you're looking for, but I would disagree with outright repetition as a means of learning to do any kind of writing. If you repeat bad practices due to inexperience you will be training to a bad job with confidence. Hemingway said that being a good writer means being a dedicated reader and that reading is the activity of training to write (heavily paraphrased from A Moveable Feast). If you want to write good technical documentation, there is nothing that will prepare you as well as experiencing the difference between good and bad examples. If you can get your hands on some real-world examples of what you want to write then you will develop a critical eye as you read them. I am sure that there are some that would make you eager to throw your money in the ring and there are probably some that would embarrass you if you were a part of the pitch.

For a more minute suggestion, look into cognitive ease and how it is affected by language (Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman is a personal and HN favorite). If you are trying to be persuasive, don't use weird words like people do when they are writing their first resume, forgo words that you have trouble pronouncing and use jargon judiciously to inspire a positive and confident reaction.

Also, here's a Quora thread[1] that suggests the exact opposite approach and also gives a book recommendation. While I disagree with that advice it may not matter because, as pointed out there, these documents are proprietary.

1. https://www.quora.com/Where-can-I-view-real-world-business-p...

austinlonSep 22, 2020

People also expect too much after reading a book just once. Reading a book once isn't enough to make a lasting impression, if you're able to remember anything at all — especially for a complex book like Thinking, Fast and Slow.

The books I truly love, I've read at least three times, with pages full of highlights and notes. Re-reading a great book is worth more than reading the latest trends. Seneca wrote a bit about this nearly 2000 years ago:

Be careful, however, that there is no element of discursiveness and desultoriness about this reading you refer to, this reading of many different authors and books of every description. You should be extending your stay among writers whose genius is unquestionable, deriving constant nourishment from them if you wish to gain anything from your reading that will find a lasting place in your mind.

sinxoveretothexonMar 9, 2017

Indeed, technical error on my part. The parent commenter is only "most likely wrong" given the psychological literature on this is most likely right. Some of it you can prove to yourself by experiment such as by following along this ASAP science video[1] (it's essentially Kanehman's Thinking Fast and Slow in accessible form).

[1] https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JiTz2i4VHFw

diminotenonAug 6, 2018

I think this is the part people forget too often about the "two system" theory written about in "Thinking Fast and Slow".

You can improve your System 1 responses, and there's a decent amount of the book that talks about all the ways System 2 post-hoc justifies the System 1 response, so it's not like System 2 is always going to be better.

Having a good System 1 response is a much clearer way to arrive at a solid decision than only hoping your System 2 is going to catch all of your biases.

Not trying to train your System 1 is, in my opinion, lazy. There are no "fast" or "slow" thinkers (we're all both), just people who have trained their System 1 and people who don't take the time (people with disorders notwithstanding).

lkrychonDec 18, 2018

I'm going to plug a few great non-fiction books that are easy(ish) to read and deep on content. I'm sure there are a lot more out there.

Thinking, Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman

Coming Into the Country - John McPhee

The Unwinding - George Packer

Anything by James C Scott (Thinking Like a State, The Art of Not Being Governed)

The Righteous Mind - John Haidt

The Selfish Gene - Richard Dawkins (Regardless of how you feel about his current public persona, this book published in 1976 is an absolute classic)

kashyapconAug 4, 2020

Yes, but more specifically on Thinking, Fast and Slow, as noted elsewhere[1][2]:

It is only the priming-related chapter (called 'The Associative Machine' in the book) that put "too much faith in under-powered studies", as Kahneman put it[3]. Not the entire book!

The book is a synthesis of forty years of Kahneman's research and his collaboration with his late colleague, Tversky. A wide range of topics are covered; and it still absolutely merits reading. Patiently dive into the book and make up your mind.

(But yes, a v2 of this book definitely is worth it, given the "authority" of the Nobel Memorial Prize.)

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22054603

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21757524

[3] https://retractionwatch.com/2017/02/20/placed-much-faith-und...

pkaleronDec 22, 2016

Here's my whole list for the year in reverse chronological:

- Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance

- Tools of Titan by Tim Ferriss

- Competing Against Luck by Clayton Christensen

- Scrum: A Breathtakingly Brief and Agile Introduction by Chris Sims

- Build Better Products by Laura Klein

- Capital in the Twenty-first Century by Thomas Picketty

- Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

- Lean Customer Development by Cindy Alvarez

- Impossible to Inevitable by Aaron Ross & Jason Lemkin

- Grit by Angela Duckworth

- Love Sense by Sue Johnson

- Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

- Working Effectively With Legacy Code by Michael Feathers

- Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg

- Sprint by Jake Knapp

- Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Taleb

- Becoming a Supple Leopard by Kelly Starrett

- Superforecasting by Philip Tetlock

- The Inner Game Of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey

- Design Sprint by Richard Banfield

- The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn

- The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver

- Advanced Swift by Chris Eidoff

- Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

Some of these books are older and had been on my list for awhile. Some were released this year. Most of these books are very good. I usually stop reading bad books by the end of the first chapter.

nooblyonMar 15, 2018

I'm no professional but I was very impressed by the immediate utility and domain independence of what I gained from reading "Thinking, Fast and Slow".

I've always felt that intelligence is largely cultivated (or at least a significant portion of what we commonly refer to as 'intelligence'), and much of this book seemed to agree and offered constructive advice on improving ones cognition, along with making use of many quirks, oddities and primitive habits our brains have been endowed with.

alok-gonJuly 12, 2021

I feel exactly the same for many books. If a book summary on Wikipedia, etc., neither surprises me nor teaches me anything new, I have little motivation to read the book.

There's an 'Ask HN' thread on "high signal to noise ratio" books: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10027102 I note that "Thinking, Fast and Slow" is also listed here.

Wikipedia itself is of course lovely for high information density and is my go-to resource.

unpythoniconSep 5, 2017

I used to commute in silence or listening to the radio for my daily Silicon Valley drive (237 Milpitas to Mountain View), and by the time I got to work, I'd be angry, frustrated, and cognitively spent.

Listening to audio books has allowed me to relax, enjoy the reading, and get to work excited about the day.

I treat the time as a chance to "read" those books which I wouldn't normally spend either my work hours nor my free time hours on. It's a chance to get informed on topics that are only slightly related to work, but expand your mind in ways that will make you a better thinker, and thus a better programmer.

The books I've found particularly good on audio are:

* Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

* Thinking, Fast and Slow

* How Not to be Wrong

* Ready Player One

* Neuromancer

nhaehnleonAug 26, 2013

Based on Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow, I would suggest that it is a case of substitution: We (often unconsciously) substitute a hard question for an easier question. In your examples, that might be: Did you have good experiences with immigrants? How do you feel about war more generally?

Those judgments aren't necessarily bad in themselves. For example, as a pacifist, I might be happy to err on the side of non-interventionism as long as the situation is sufficiently unclear.

These substitutions only really become problematic when we close ourselves to new data that might change our mind.

vowellessonDec 28, 2019

* Elements of Statistical Learning - Hastie, Tibshisrani

* (Lot's of machine learning books to list: PRML, All of Stats, Deep Learning, etc.)

* Active Portfolio Management - Kahn, Grinold

* Thinking, fast and slow - Kahneman

* Protein Power (the Eades') / Why we get fat (Taubes)

* Why we sleep (Walker)

* Deep Work / So Good They Can't Ignore You (Newport)

* Flowers for Algernon (Keyes)

* Getting to Yes (Fisher)

khconJuly 30, 2014

Poor Economics - Abhijit Banerjee & Esther Duflo

Thinking, Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman

The Signal and The Noise - Nate Silver

Predictably Irrational - Dan Ariely

This Time is Different - Carmen Reinhart & Kenneth Rogoff

Subliminal - Leonard Mlodinow

Fooled by Randomness - Nassim Taleb

For something more lighthearted, I also enjoyed:

An Economist Gets Lunch - Tyler Cowen

Inside Jokes - Matthew Hurley & others
(mostly skipped the dense parts)

quietbritishjimonAug 3, 2021

I like the advice in Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman about estimating, which is not specific to software but still very applicable to it:

Start with a known past project that is in some way similar in magnitude and adjust from there. For example, "this is twice as complex as some other project I did, and that took 2 months so this one might take 4 months". Most importantly, resist the temptation to say "although 1 of those 2 months was because of unexpected thing X so I shouldn't include that". Overall, it's highly flawed, but much less highly flawed than anything else. This is called "reference class forecasting".

He gave a really compelling explanation of why estimates are almost always underestimates by a significant amount, and this technique is the best defence against it, but I won't try to resummarise because I'll surely misrepresent it. But I do recall he gave an example where he and some colleagues were trying to make a school syllabus about deductive biases, and underestimated the effort required for their own project.

faeriechanglingonMay 24, 2021

He's a psychologist who wrote his book prior to the replication crisis in social psychology. I read "Thinking fast and slow" with a companion piece that detailed the most flawed parts of the book. I read that blog post before I read the book. There's basically no psychology you can read without some degree of BS in them so I love reading books which have already been thoroughly scrutinized. Some chapters were very well grounded, others like ch4 I didn't even bother reading.

I don't know where you got the impression that MOST of his research got undermined by that blog post when that blog post mostly took down a few chapters. If anything Kahneman impressed me for coming out of the replication crisis with not much more than a blown off limb. It would be great if Kahneman got everything perfect the first go of things but it was practically the point of his book that it's incredibly difficult to not make the exact mistakes that he ended up making.

The above posters general point is correct that the author doesn't really understand Kahneman's work, otherwise they would not have phrased things the way they did.

afarrellonNov 21, 2018

One thing just occurred to me: the most successful estimation exercise I've gone through so far actually involved me pair-estimating a project with my manager. I think this is generalizable: If you aren't sure how to do an estimate, the steps are:

0) Stand up straight and chamber your courage in order to be honest responding to the person who just asked you for an estimate.

1) Say: "I don't know how to produce estimates. I'm going to get a more senior engineer to pair with me on breaking down a project and producing an estimate for you."

2) Email your team lead about who would be a good person to sit down with you and go through the process of estimating the task.

Tell her that you are going to do #3
Say you are looking to both answers the question you were asked and to talk you through the thought process so that you can learn to be good at producing useful estimates. Book like 30 minutes in the senior engineer's calendar.

3) Write your own draft where you first take the definition-of-done and make sure it is clear, then you turn the task into bullet points of what you can think of are the subcomponents of it. Don't produce times yet.

4) When you have the meeting with the senior engineer, be clear that you want to learn the thought process. If they say "I just go with my gut and multiply by 3" then say something about how their years of experience with estimates allows their intuition to be highly trained, but you need a more rigorous process to follow until your gut is similarly well-trained. (tip: read Thinking Fast and Slow) Ask if they can use their experience to help you think through your breakdown, spot missing subtasks, and put numbers on things.

I've not actually tried steps #1 and #2, but I have done steps #3 then #4 together and they worked well.


If you think you'll get pushback on the idea of taking some time to go away and do the estimate, imagine yourself calling up an auto mechanic and saying "Hey, my 2010 Peugeot Ion is making a noise like a coffee grinder when I accelerate. Can you give me a quote for how much that costs to fix?" Then imagine refusing to let them take a look at it before they give you a quote.

joshuakonDec 24, 2018

Uhm, no, but funny. Your intuition that Dr. Kahneman's general claim about intuition is weak, is way off, but humorously apropos.

This is not just his own intuition. Daniel Kahneman is a Nobel prize winning psychologist principally responsible for inventing an entirely new field of social psychology called Behavioral Economics, which is based largely on how humans misapply intuition.

Working with Amos Tversky, with whom he shares the Nobel prize, and others, Daniel Kahneman did extensive research demonstrating just how our intuition is wrong. You can read more about it in his book "Thinking, Fast and Slow".

Experiment after experiment show that most people's intuition is generally wrong, outside of very specific contexts as the article discusses. They also show that people are resistant to intuitive contradictions and use their intellect to create arguments to justify their flawed intuition, rather than accept their intuition was wrong when confronted with new information. In other words not only are intuitions often wrong, but wrong intuitions are sticky and very difficult to correct.

Now my question to you is, do you feel any resistance to changing your initial intuition despite this new information?

tristan_juricekonFeb 6, 2012

If you haven't read "Thinking, Fast and Slow" it really summarizes the problems in a lot of decision making in a very clear way.

I'm still reading through, but, you have two major actors in your brain. A "fast" side, and a "slow" side. The fast side makes gut decisions, and the slow side, well, applies more complex judgements and can include a more unbiased view of the world. There's a ton to this process, but importantly, the fast side is very happy to jump to conclusions when presented with missing information.

The lesson of Moneyball, then, was that the "fast side" thinking clouded judgements of baseball prospects by filling out ridiculous statements like "he's got a hot girlfriend, must be able to have the confidence we need on the field".

I'm not sure how you can use the baseball metaphor in terms of software design, though.

But, you could easily say that we're presented with an incomplete amount of information when building software. (What's going to happen when it runs? Who knows! Just build a nice API and continue.) So we definitely all probably have a lot of "quick learning" techniques and processes we just adopt to. For example, Googling before you just stop and think. Or using the UI techniques of other applications, because "that's how the big profit-making companies do it".

kashyapconAug 8, 2015

Sapins[1] by Yuval Noah Harari. Currently 220 pages into it, I wholeheartedly recommend -- it's remarkably well written and is full of very interesting perspectives.

Credit where it's due: learnt about this book in an edge.org conversation[2] between Dr. Harari and the eminent psycologist Daniel Kahneman.

Speaking of professor Kahneman, I recently finished his "Thinking, Fast and Slow" (I did notice it's mentioned in the comments, but still), over a period of deliberate slow reading of 5 months. Much has been said and written (more than well deservedly!) about this book. Don't let the title invite you to dismiss it off as yet another over-simplifying popular psyocology book; it's anything but that. It is an account of about 30 years of collaboration with his late colleague Amos Tversky. Certainly not a breezy page-turner. It's well worth it to take your own time to assimilate the content.

  [1] http://www.ynharari.com/sapiens-the-book/short-overview/
[2] http://edge.org/conversation/yuval_noah_harari-daniel_kahneman-death-is-optional

tarboreusonJan 4, 2020

Books shouldn't be about absorbing "information." Think of them as intellectual obstacle courses. A good book should challenge you, either with radically new ideas or radically new viewpoints. I basically can't do serious thinking (i.e. not administrative or programming thinking but broader thinking about ideas) without reading.

On the other hand, you're not going to get this experience from "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" or whatever, and if you haven't built these muscles you probably shouldn't be starting with Gulliver's Travels or Walter Ong or some other really challenging thing.

First of all, throw out your self help books and just read Thinking Fast and Slow, which 80% of self-help books have ripped off for the past 20 years. It's more boringer (I have a PhD so I can say things like that), but it at least isn't just a bunch of cute anecdotes for an executive to amuse themselves with while there's no wifi on a plane.

Second, start building those muscles with the few people who are both challenging and accessible. George Orwell is great for this, read Homage to Catalonia and get a collection of his essays. Read a few Beckett plays, try Endgame and scratch your head at that shit. Read some Neil Postman and be like, yeah, he was right about technology.

The idea with books isn't to make yourself know more stuff, though that does happen to some extent. The idea is to improve your character and model the world better. You're increasing WIS, not INT. If you're feeling impatience when you pick up a book, if you get that feeling after three pages that you need to put it down and move on to reading 40 news sites, that's your weak-ass WIS. It basically means your brain is flabby. You're like the person at the gym who hasn't been in 4 years. Just push through, give it a week or two and you won't have that feeling.

P.S. People, stop calling things "content." "Content" is what you put the ads around. Goddamn civilizational collapse.

nine_konJan 15, 2014

Actually some people objectively (as in 'visible on MRT scans') enjoy certain things more if they know they are somewhat superior, even if the 'superior' thing is the very same thing as the control 'inferior', just labeled differently.

There are examples and references in "Thinking fast and slow" by Daniel Kahneman.

So the sellers of the $700 digital cable actually sell more enjoyable experience to certain (gullible) people, and do it exactly by putting an exorbitant price tag and raising hype around an otherwise ordinary USB cable. They are not in business of selling exact sound reproduction; they are selling exquisite experiences. And for an experience, emotional details are more important than the dull objectivity of spectrograms.

Imagine that you receive a pen as a gift from your loved one, nicely wrapped and solemnly handed. Compare it with an experience of owning the very same pen model which you hastily bought in a store for $10 because you needed something to jot with. The elevated joy of using the gifted pen is not in the pen, but in you and your experience, your memory. Same applies to audiophile equipment, collectible postal stamps, etc. The material thing just serves as a reminding token.

spookylukeyonMay 22, 2015

Working out whether someone is smart or not on the basis of how an entirely informal conversation goes makes you extremely vulnerable to biases.

Read "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman and you will become much more suspicious of sentiments like "I think it’s pretty easy to tell whether someone’s smart in casual conversation". We are actually extremely bad at guessing people's competences on first encounter, and very prone to cognitive biases such as the halo effect.

With no objective measures, it seems this method is likely to be subject to massive bias towards people that you just get on with or like for some reason.

nazgobonAug 3, 2016

You got one. 'Thinking Fast and Slow' by Daniel Kahneman. Sometimes people don't optimize long term and just prefer to get 'daily' rate and go back to their families. This might turn bad if sth happens and they can't ride for some time and could use the 'rain' money. Book is really good, highly recommended.

mbestoonJuly 6, 2012

If you find this interesting, there is a great book called "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman[1]. Highly recommend it if you're interested in understanding buying behavior and the psychology behind many of these economic decisions. It's also largely based on the research from Richard Thaler in his book Nudge.[2]

[1]- http://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Fast-Slow-Daniel-Kahneman/dp/...

[2]- http://www.amazon.com/Nudge-Improving-Decisions-Health-Happi...

vanderZwanonJune 27, 2013

I'm sorry, I'm all in favour of loving what you do and agree that this generally leads to good results, but that interpretation frames the sentence in a completely different context than the original story, which is the following:

> So fundraising is a psychologically trying experience that depends very little on any sober analysis of the quality of your product

Smile or die, motherfucker!


> It's unquestionable that you need energy, excitement and confidence to be good at something. Anything from being a doctor, lawyer to professional athlete.

Oh, that is VERY questionable. The first two are focussing on positive emotions and ignore the important role negativity plays. Smilarly, confidence does not in any way equate capability.

> Projection (The act of projecting or the condition of being projected.) is going to be the only thing people can fall back on.

No, that's just our intuitive mind being too lazy to do a rigorous analysis of the situation. I recommend "Thinking Fast and Slow" by Kahneman to fix this.

afarrellonMay 22, 2018

Book recommendation: Decisive by Chip & Dan Heath

Its a book about how to make better decisions more confidently, both as an individual and as a group. It has a clear framework that presents actionble tips and exercises you can apply in situations. The writing style is a good mix of explanation and anecdotes and is fairly readable.

More general book recommendation: Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.
It presents a mental model of how to understand your existing reasoning and perception processes.

Also, if you're having trouble making a choice, consider messaging a friend and asking them "hey, I'm trying to make a heavy life decision. Can I take you out to dinner and just talk out my thoughts with you?" Try to be clear about how much you want them to just listen, how much you want them to help you clarify your own thoughts, and how much you want them to give you recommendations.

lazyantonFeb 17, 2015

I read Thinking Fast and Slow and also I also read a better summary of the initial study, by the author I think. The 10,000 hour was taking from a study from top music performers (so, no random population), also there was a lot of variance; for ex among chess players some achieved mastery in 5,000 hours, others put in more than 10,000 and didn't achieve it. So lots of deliberate practice is good, arbitrary 10k hours is BS.

martythemaniakonDec 23, 2015

Leave it to Psmith - 10/10

Anna Karenina - 8/10

The Code of the Woosters 8/10

Fooled by Randomness 7/10

Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life 8/10

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia 9/10

Reluctant Fundamentalist 9/10

The Sense of an Ending - Julian Barnes 8/10

The Last Question - Asimov - 9/10

The Magic of Thinking Big - 6/10

The catcher in the Rye 8/10

Models 7/10

High Fidelity - Nick Hornby 8/10

The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman 7/10

The Surrender Experiment - 10/10

Untethered Soul - 9/10

The Autobiography of a Yogi - 7/10

Raja Yoga - Swami Vikekandanda - 7/10

Something Fresh, something new - 7/10

Karma Yoga - Swami Vikekandanda - 8/10

Thinking, Fast and Slow - 9/10

Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates 10/10

The Pearl by John Steinbeck 7/10

scorchioonDec 23, 2015

Leave it to Psmith - 10/10
Anna Karenina - 8/10
The Code of the Woosters 8/10
Fooled by Randomness 7/10
Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life 8/10
How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia 9/10
Reluctant Fundamentalist 9/10
The Sense of an Ending - Julian Barnes 8/10
The Last Question - Asimov - 9/10
The Magic of Thinking Big - 6/10
The catcher in the Rye 8/10
Models 7/10
High Fidelity - Nick Hornby 8/10
The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman 7/10
The Surrender Experiment - 10/10
Untethered Soul - 9/10
The Autobiography of a Yogi - 7/10
Raja Yoga - Swami Vikekandanda - 7/10
Something Fresh, something new - 7/10
Karma Yoga - Swami Vikekandanda - 8/10
Thinking, Fast and Slow - 9/10
Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates 10/10
The Pearl by John Steinbeck 7/10

SymmetryonDec 18, 2015

If you're concerned that humans are as smart as it's possible to be then I would recommend reading Thinking Fast and Slow or some other book on cognitive psychology. There's essentially a whole branch of academia studying topics isomorphic to figuring out those things we fail to realize we don't know on a day to day basis.

elamjeonFeb 5, 2019

I completely agree with Freakonomics and incentives.

I would add Thinking Fast and Slow by Kahneman. It too follows the thread of incentives, but also more interesting aspects of human psychology like memory, and the 2 parts of the brain. Understanding how the 2 parts of the brain are often at odds with other, has vastly changed the way I think and helped me realize times I'm susceptible to bias and misunderstanding.

flor1sonMay 14, 2017

Reading the article it also seems the author has a rather sensationalist approach to interpreting research. Some of the studies he refers to do not seem to make the claims that he extracts from them, nor have a sample which resembles the general public.

The idea that you should intertwine focused thinking with unfocused thinking (and/or relaxation) was the subject of Daniel Kahneman's excellent book Thinking Fast and Slow.

bkohlmannonSep 21, 2017

For sure! Our "textbook" was "Influence" by Robert Cialdini. Here's a number of others:

-"Thinking Fast and Slow" by Daniel Khaneman
-"The Undoing Project" by Michael Lewis
-"Fooled by Randomness" and "The Black Swan" by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
-"Pre-suasion" by Cialdini
-"The Moral Animal" by Robert Wright
-"The Most Important Thing" by Howard Marks
-"Everybody Lies" by Seth Stevens-Davidowitz
-"How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big" by Scott Adams
-The "Freakonomics" Trilogy

stdbrouwonJuly 16, 2015

Daniel Kahneman (from his autobiography, but he tells the same story in Thinking, Fast And Slow):

> I had the most satisfying Eureka experience of my career while attempting to teach flight instructors that praise is more effective than punishment for promoting skill-learning. When I had finished my enthusiastic speech, one of the most seasoned instructors in the audience raised his hand and made his own short speech, which began by conceding that positive reinforcement might be good for the birds, but went on to deny that it was optimal for flight cadets. He said, “On many occasions I have praised flight cadets for clean execution of some aerobatic maneuver, and in general when they try it again, they do worse. On the other hand, I have often screamed at cadets for bad execution, and in general they do better the next time. So please don’t tell us that reinforcement works and punishment does not, because the opposite is the case.” This was a joyous moment, in which I understood an important truth about the world: because we tend to reward others when they do well and punish them when they do badly, and because there is regression to the mean, it is part of the human condition that we are statistically punished for rewarding others and rewarded for punishing them. I immediately arranged a demonstration in which each participant tossed two coins at a target behind his back, without any feedback. We measured the distances from the target and could see that those who had done best the first time had mostly deteriorated on their second try, and vice versa. But I knew that this demonstration would not undo the effects of lifelong exposure to a perverse contingency.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regression_toward_the_mean

idolaspecusonNov 6, 2020

I don't have specific references on hand, but I'm pretty sure that your wager would be ill-begotten. Studies have shown that simply abstaining from distraction takes mental energy (for lack of a better term) and reduces performance in a number of ways. This suggest that designing your environment ahead of time (what OP is trying to do) is more efficient/productive than resolving to maintain disciple in the moment. Again, I don't have specific references on hand, but I know that this phenomenon is discussed in both Thinking Fast and Slow[1] and the Craving Mind[2].



jessedhillononMay 22, 2021

This is true for native speakers of most languages, in my experience. I remember many years ago traveling Spanish-speaking countries and trying to talk to locals about some grammatical point, like use of the subjunctive mood, and getting very puzzled looks. This despite the fact that even three-year old children correctly navigate verb moods without knowing the rules.

This and other experiences convinced me that learning the formal rules of a language is perhaps not the best way to approach learning. Especially not if your intention is to speak to locals, rather than say, become a TV news announcer. I think the most critical skill of language learning is to get the "muscle memory" of the language, the reflex of subconsciously mapping concepts to words in your internal lookup table. This skill is even precedes IMO listening comprehension: naturally, when you're listening to someone speak, you'll miss words. But if your mastery of the language is sufficient to allow you to quickly guess what you would have said in the gap if you were speaking, then the error is survivable. I find that this seems to be how the brain works when listening to speech in your native language.

To correlate with Dan Ariely's "Thinking, Fast and Slow" it's the fast mode that's needed, whereas as a grammatical approach tends to emphasize and develop slow mode skills. Sometimes you need to go slow before you go fast, but given that children jump I without knowing the rules, I don't think it's necessary for language. (I also think too much is made about the supposed inelasticity of the adult brain re languages) I hope/expect with AI, there is a really interesting possibility around the corner for learning language in a simulated immersion environment. The Google and Amazon translation APIs seem, on paper, to provide at least 50% of what that would take.

clarkmoodyonApr 26, 2016

The phenomenon is called anchoring[1], and it works like this: the first price we see anchors our thinking about additional information. This is why furniture stores have a perpetual sale.

"Oh look, this $2500 sofa is only $1899.99 right now. What a great deal!"

One experiment had respondents use the last two digits of their social security number as the initial price for a bottle of wine or other good. This completely-arbitrary price had a strong correlation with the price they were willing to pay for the item.

The effect is described in greater detail in Thinking, Fast and Slow[3]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anchoring

[2] http://www.inc.com/the-build-network/the-anchoring-effect.ht...

[3] http://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Fast-Slow-Daniel-Kahneman/dp/...

jadedhackeronAug 5, 2018

I want to see what some other commentators who are more knowledgeable about the field say. This is a pretty striking attack against a central theory in... Scientific American? Without citing a wealth of evidence with detailed citations? I find the logic of the argument appealing, finding no inborn bias towards gain nor loss outside of what could be derived by reason would be a very nice thing to say about the future of humanity.

I read D. Kahneman's book Thinking Fast and Slow a number of years back and it did present some pretty clear looking graphs demonstrating loss aversion of 2:1 iirc. I've since lost my copy due to a friend's "borrowing". ;) Certain other elements of his book have come into question, including priming. I'm eagerly waiting to see how the cookie crumbles here.

ArgorakonOct 11, 2013

The book "Thinking, Fast and Slow", quite often favourably quoted on HN, contains an interesting chapter on how what we perceive as "inborn ability" is much more the result of a very long chain of decisions (willingly or random), influencing an individual in certain directions. It especially quotes studies that many kids that were seen as excelling at a certain point turned out to be rather "normal" in all areas in the long run.

It is, unsurprisingly, called "Regression to the Mean".

firebonesonDec 28, 2015

While I don't think the comparison is perfect, Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking Fast and Slow" illustrates several examples of cognitive biases where the expected suffering based on "area under the curve" (e.g., duration of pain in an non-anesthetized colonoscopy, or pain in a cold water torture test) is greater than the actual reported pain, mostly because we tend to report based on the later feelings (liberation, easing of pain) rather than peak pain or the integral of total pain.

Perhaps another way of putting this is that confirmation of hope is a pretty powerful antidote to prior pain.

davidgrenieronNov 13, 2015

This statement makes the unfortunate assumption that people will change their behaviour following your treating them poorly (or worse punishing them). It would be on you to substantiate that claim and no, your anectodal experience doesn't provide valid evidence.

For evidence of otherwise I recommend reading Thinking fast and slow by Daniel Kahneman. It's a great read regardless of this issue.

ericdykstraonJuly 13, 2018

First, I'll recommend Discrimination and Disparaties by Thomas Sowell, another fantastic work from Sowell put out this year that builds on some ideas from previous essays. It's short, but the arguments are concise, empirical, and convincing.

And 3 books that have most recently made it into my "must-reread" category.

The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt

Antifragile by Nassim Taleb

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

afarrellonNov 23, 2017

I assume if you're asking, you've likely already read "How to Win Friends and Influence People". If not, do so.

One of the themes in it is how listening is a skill and applying it is one of the most powerful ways to influence people because it conveys to people, "I have an understanding of your concerns. When I advocate a course of action, I've done the work to take these concerns into account and evaluate trade-offs with them. You can trust me on this."

Books which also discuss the skill of listening include:

* Difficult Conversations, by the Harvard Negotiation Project

* Thanks for the Feedback, by the Harvard Negotiation Project

* and a bit of Decisive, by Chip & Dan Heath

Though the other things it says about decision-making processes are likely more useful, since persuasion involves influencing decision-making

Lastly, because both listening and persuasion both kinda depend on forming a good Theory of Mind, I'll recommend Thinking Fast and Slow. It is a bit farther-removed from your question, but also very generally useful.

allie1onApr 20, 2021

Wonderful tips. I never thought of 2 that way.

What I love is spaced repetition of the highlights. I don't do it time based though. I do it based on subject, and this gets a lot more powerful when it's more than one book on a subject.

For example - go through my highlights on Influence (Chialdini), Thinking Fast and Slow, Poor Charlie's Almanac, and think about how they complement each other.

Seeing the same subject from multiple points of view, sometimes conflicting, other times corroborating each other is very helpful to build a more wholesome base of knowledge.

rdlonDec 13, 2016

I consoled myself with 1) it is just one person's opinion (his other recommendation kind of sucked too; I think I just don't like his taste in book recommendations, which doesn't say anything else about him, or even his reading habits), and at least it wasn't Malcolm Gladwell.

(I'd suggest reading Thinking Fast and Slow, and High Output Management. I just track everything I read on Goodreads, though -- https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3960665-ryan-lackey

tmalyonDec 3, 2018

Last year I started reading about mental models and a few that really stuck with me were:

1. Hanlon's razor - we should not attribute to malice that which is more easily explained by stupidity.

2. Reversion to the Mean - after reading Thinking Fast and Slow, the part about reversion to the mean really made me think about how people view others in terms of how the behave day to day.

One other thing I tend to think about is that everyone is fighting their own battles, so try to be kind to others in how you interpret their choices and actions.

tsaprailisonDec 22, 2016

I had asked a question[0] regarding books a few months ago which ended up in the following list[1].
From those so far I have read the following:

- Elon Musk: Inventing the Future - Ashlee Vance
Totally worth to get insight into the Elon. Kinda changes the superhero/good guy image everyone has but you end up with more respect for him whatsoever.

- Thinking fast and slow - Daniel Kahneman
Awesome book presenting modern psychology. You'll get insight into how humans work.

- Rework - Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson
Nice, albeit small book regarding how the creators of rails manage their company. So very nice insight.

- The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers - Ben Horowitz
I started reading this but it was too business centric for me so I stopped, however if you're a business owner it might be worth it.

- Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel - Rolf Potts
This is a nice/into book if you're interested into digital nomading, long term travel in general.

- The Black Swan - Nassim Nicholas Taleb
This in my opinion is a superb book if you are interested in statistics/philosophy. He presents the chaotic structure of our world and why extreme events are more common than we think.Definitely suggested.

- The art of Learning - Josh Waitzkin
This is a book that presents the Author's (Chess and Tai Chi Chuan World champion) way of learning. Has some pretty useful insight.

[0]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12415621
[1]: https://github.com/kostistsaprailis/non-tech-books-for-devel...

NhanHonMar 27, 2013

The way it was explained in the infographic wasn't clear. But what he meant is that between P(X = accountant) and P(X = accountant and plumber), the former is bigger. The fact that P(X = plumber) > P(X = accountant) is irrelevant, as we wasn't concerned with P(X= plumber) at all.

The implication of this "problem" is an interesting human biased: there appears to be cases where we judge the more detailed explanation as more probably, while statistically speaking, it isn't. If a person is described as "being concerned with discrimination and social justice", we tend to judge P(X = activist and Y) as more probable than P( X = Y). This is detailed in "Thinking, fast and slow" by Kahneman - a wonderful book if anyone haven't read it.

thetechimistonSep 15, 2020

As previously mentioned, the library. The argument that one has to wait sometimes is superfluous. Anyone saying such a thing isn’t a regular library user.

Whatever is popular for the moment is just that: popular for the moment. It will pass. Almost never does a book need to be read the year it comes out. I mean, after all, if you value books, you value in-depth reading that provides perspective. As an example, when “Thinking Fast and Slow” first came out, getting it at even larger central branches was tough. Fast forward a few years and now every library has a few copies just sitting there. If one worries that if they don’t get it while it’s hot that it might be gone forever, then trust me, it probably wasn’t worth your time. The quality good books (both fiction and non-fiction) stay in the library system decade after decade.

If you aren’t familiar with intra-library loans, learn how they work. Super easy and you can get the books that are older, but not as heavily stocked, quite easily.

On tech books, get access to your nearest university, ideally a tech university library. Most will get you a card with certain conditions - and nearly all will let you visit and read forever with no questions if you’re professional about it. There are also private libraries (sadly rare) and some have good tech collections. Tech gets old and useless quick which is why most public libraries don’t stock stuff like O’Reilly. Which may be helpful to think about the value of spending one’s time reading something that will be DOA in 5 years or less. But if you are committed to a particular tech track or need for work, buy the book. That’s the cost of professional improvement. Don’t try to millennial your way around that. If you use ILL though, you can usually still borrow tech classics like K&R.

The modernist clamor for “the new” is dumbing down recent generations. Maybe what people really need to do is to read the existing books in the stacks so they can stop wasting time and money chasing the latest hip and trendy best seller that will supposedly cure all our ills.

ritchieaonJan 4, 2020

First of all no one remembers everything they read. If you spend time reading lots of books you will find things that stick out to you personally that you are surprised other people didn't bring up in the summaries you are accustomed to hearing elsewhere. You'll also find yourself disagreeing with other people's summaries and interpretations of books you've read.

So yes, I would say reading books is worth it. And the best way to start is for now is put aside your "must read" list. Instead think about something you're personally curious about right now this moment and pick a well regarded book that touches on that thing you're curious about. Don't limit yourself to nonfiction, if you're interested in memory maybe you could pick up Daniel Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow or maybe you could choose Tom McCarthy's amazing novel Remainder. If you're interested in live performance maybe you could pick up Viola Spolin's Improvisation for the Theater or maybe try Philip Roth's Sabbath's Theater.

Then repeat, follow your curiosity again. Pick another book, maybe the first book you read pushes you towards selecting another. You want more from the same author or topic. And don't be shy about not finishing things, sometimes a book doesn't pay off on the curiosity that led you to it. I often start reading a handful or more of books at a time until I find one that really grips me. Or just keep alternating between reading lots of different things for weeks. Kindle & the kindle app are actually very good for this because you can send yourself samples of books so you can try them before investing in them.

I would also say in general, the depth of knowledge shared, and the quality of work put into a book tends to be much greater than 99% of what you find online. It is a lot of work to publish a book, the authors, editors and everyone else involved want to make it worth it. Not that there isn't great online content, but people work hard to make books worth the time investment.

You are missing out. At least try to get out there and read.

WhompingWindowsonJuly 7, 2020

Only certain truth exerts a pull on our beliefs: the truth that we use to justify our beliefs post-hoc. It's well established in psychology, from books I've read like "thinking fast and slow" or "The Righteous Mind", psychological study points to people building their beliefs THEN finding facts to justify them.

I do agree that, over generations, the correct and truthful views tend to gain the upper-hand. This arises from each generation downloading a new set of facts and learning in school, when they are young and their minds haven't formed their belief system yet. However, if we allowed all children to enter school at their place of worship from 5 to 18, we'd find college students remarkably unwilling to learn many more facts.

So, more broadly, why does it bother you that facts don't change our minds and we're all irrational? We are Homo Sapiens, a mammalian primate who made the jump from the jungle to the Savannah and learned to work together to gather food and hunt game. We haven't left behind our animal software, it is still active in and exploited by our modern society.

andrewcookeonApr 8, 2013

i am pretty sure you'll find it described in "thinking, fast and slow" by daniel kahneman - http://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Fast-Slow-Daniel-Kahneman/dp/... (i imagine that the "fast heuristic" is to make immediate, local comparisons, which discounts favour; recognising persistently low prices means more reflection and long-term memory; people use fast heuristics rather than slow logic most of the time).

it's a very good book. i just gave a friend a copy today (if anyone in santiago is looking for a spanish language copy it's sold out in all the shops but bazuca.cl still have it in stock - i guess no-one thinks of buying books there!)

bnegreveonJune 7, 2016

> I, personally, could not sit idly by and watch, or record, anyone suffering without attempting to assist.

We should be careful with this kind of statements. I remember that in Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman describes an experiment which shows that most people don't actually take action when the responsibility is shared among other people. Of course most people think they would.

kaladoonSep 16, 2019


- Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman |
book on human rationality and irrationality

- An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield


- Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality |
Petunia married a professor, and Harry grew up reading science and science fiction.

- Off to Be the Wizard (Magic 2.0 Book 1) by Scott Meyer |
Reality is defined in a text file, making the protagonist a wizard when he discovers it while hacking a company.

- The Magicians (series) by Lev Grossman

sAbakumoffonFeb 14, 2017

It reminded me of "thinking fast and slow" book where the author refers to the study conducted by Terry Odean and Brad Barber:

"In a paper titled “Trading Is Hazardous to Your Wealth,” they showed that, on average, the most active traders had the poorest results, while the investors who traded the least earned the highest returns. In another paper, titled “Boys Will Be Boys,” they showed that men acted on their useless ideas significantly more often than women, and that as a result women achieved better investment results than men."

and concludes:

"It is important to remember that this is a statement about averages: some individuals did much better, others did much worse. However, it is clear that for the large majority of individual investors, taking a shower and doing nothing would have been a better policy than implementing the ideas that came to their minds."

Kahneman, Daniel (2011-11-03). Thinking, Fast and Slow (p. 214). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.

d33onMar 6, 2017

On the quick I could think of two:

"Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman - essentially a book about "bugs" in our minds that lead us to bad decisions,

"The Design of Everyday Things" by Donald Norman - changes the way you look at human-made things, makes you better appreciate examples of design that take functionality into account.

chubotonFeb 23, 2014

This is kind of funny as I just started reading "Thinking Fast and Slow" by Kahnemann.

In those terms, this article is very much about "type 2" processes, which is conscious and slow monitoring of the more intuitive type 1 processes.

A consequence is that following this advice will result in "ego depletion". By exerting your willpower in one area, you deplete a common store of it, and thus you're more likely to overeat, act lazily, think lazily, etc. in other areas.

I think this probably manifests in people who work too hard getting fat, since they don't want to watch what they eat or exercise (if those things require willpower; for some people may not)

Note that "conscious willpower" is the opposite of a "flow state". And flow is what is necessary to write good software.

Like all things, there has to be a balance. You have to exert your willpower, and all new things involve this pain, but you can also set your life up so it isn't a constant problem.

MaulingMonkeyonJan 13, 2014

> Am currently reading "Thinking Fast and Slow" by Kahneman, this is a perfect example of a base-rate fallacy (something addressed in the book).

I disagree that Dewie's individual experience constitutes a "base-rate". If you're referring to something else as a "base-rate", you'll have to spell it our more clearly for me, as I'm having difficulty seeing how to apply it validly here.

> Absent any other evidence, one should assume the amount of complaining a language would get is about proportional to how widely it's used.

That's reasonable, and my own experiences and anecdotes don't turn out to be capital D Data. However, neither are Dewie's experiences and anecdotes. And what I would argue isn't reasonable is assuming the amount of complaining that one individual developer hears about a language we get is about proportional to how widely it's used. The data set is far too small to extrapolate that far.

My own experience is that the amount of complaining about a language I hear about varies wildly by what my peers in my communities happen to be using at the time. I went years without hearing any complaints about PHP... and then someone gets employed writing it and it spikes up to the language I hear the most complaints about. I'd be very absurd to assume that PHP went from not used very widely at all to the most used language in that same timeframe!

While I cast a wide net, my time is finite and I pay more attention to some communities than others, quite understandably biasing what I hear significantly.

> So the lack of complaining (asserted by the parent) about C# might be as much a reflection on how widely it's used, than on the language itself.

Granted, but "might be" is a far cry from "is" or "should be assumed to be". Indeed, I wouldn't suggest that "C# might generally be less rant-inducing" to be worthy of assuming either. Dewie "might be" not hanging around .NET devs, but even that's a terribly poor assumption -- I know plenty of devs who don't complain about languages I consider absolutely terrible.

btillyonAug 16, 2021

I maintain that it isn't just hard, it is computationally impossible.

We should all know that given a belief about the world, and evidence, Bayes' Theorem describes how to update our beliefs.

But what if we have a network of interrelated beliefs? That's called a Bayesian net, and it turns out that Bayes' Theorem also prescribes a unique answer. However, unfortunately, it turns out that working out that answer is NP-hard.

OK, you say, we can come up with an approximate answer. Sorry, no, coming up with an approximate answer that gets within probability 0.5 - ε, for 0 < ε, is ALSO NP-hard. It is literally true that under the right circumstances a single data point logically should be able to flip our entire world view, and which data point does it is computationally intractible.

Therefore our brains use a bunch of heuristics, with a bunch of known failure modes. You can read all the lesswrong you want. You can read Thinking, Fast and Slow and learn why we fail as we do. But the one thing that we cannot do, no matter how much work or effort we put into it, is have the sheer brainpower required to actually BE rational.

The effort of doing better is still worthwhile. But the goal itself is unachievable.

oerbonDec 25, 2015

The other Books that are not so live changing this Year:
- "Fitness für den Kopf mit Superlearning" - Sheila Ostrander, Lynn Schroeder (not much news, but good)

- "Menschen lesen" - Joe Navarro (not much news, but good)

- "Intros und Extros" - Sylvia Löhken (now I'm clear - I am an Intro" :)

- "Lassen Sie Ihr Hirn nicht unbeaufsichtigt" - Christine Strenger - (nice book about how to remember things, but I decided that it is not my way to remember. Need to fix my memory to real things)

- "Thinking, Fast and Slow" - Daniel Kahneman - ( something about thinking I descoverd 20 years ago by my selve)

- "Assertiveness at work" - Ken Back, Kate Back ( The way I walk now to Hack passive agressive behavior )

- "Emotional Vampires at Work" - Albert J. Bernstein - (Helped me to discover the passive agressive behavior I never noticed as what it is before.)

- Profile Books about: 1. Michel Foucault, 2. Jacques Derrida, 3. Villém Flusser

- "Theorie des kommunkativen Handelns Band1" - Jürgen Habermas (started Band 2 Book 2 month ago)

- "Super-Brain" Deepak Chopra, Rudolph E. Tanzi - ( uhhh... you need to find a better book, but easy to read)

- "Der Pychopath in mir -engl.:The Psychopath Inside" - James Fallon (nice Book - found some Psychopath around me and give them hinds now not to stumble)

dredmorbiusonJuly 7, 2016

"Self control" costs mental energy, it imposes cognitive load.

If you want to go on a diet, don't exercise self control by not opening the bag of Oreos. Throw the fucking bag of Oreos and don't buy any more.

Practicing diet hygiene by only buying healthy foods is far easier than trying to avoid eating crap that's in front of your face.

Practicing security hygiene by eliminating situations which give rise to security risks (e.g., buffer overflows, and OpenBSD's rewrite of core libraries to that effect) is far easier than trying to remember to check your string lengths on every operation.

Practicing mental hygiene by eliminating the very possibility of interruption is vastly easier than reminding yourself to resist Every. Single. Fucking. Temptation. That. Comes. Along.

See Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow, first chapter or so. Covers this well.

mindcrimeonDec 18, 2015

If you're concerned that humans are as smart as it's possible to be

It's not about humans being as smart as possible though, it's more about being "smart enough" to where a hypothetical "smarter than human AI" is not analogous to a nuclear bomb. That is, are we smart enough to where a super-AGI can't come up anything fundamentally new, that humans aren't capable of coming up with, as bound by the fundamental laws of nature.

then I would recommend reading Thinking Fast and Slow or some other book on cognitive psychology

I'm reading Thinking, Fast and Slow right now, actually.

And just to re-iterate this point: I'm not arguing for this position, just putting it out there as a thought experiment / discussion topic. I'm certainly not convinced this is true, it's just a possibility that occurred to me earlier while reading TFA.

reronAug 22, 2016

Here's a link to the 1988 paper they're disputing http://datacolada.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Strack-et-a...

I wonder if it'd make a difference if the pen was horizontal in the participant's mouth, touching both corners of the lips. That's the mental image I walked away with when I read "Thinking, Fast and Slow".

danblickonJuly 28, 2016

Sorry if this is too impractical, but you might look at gamification as an application of general principles of human psychology and decision making. Some interesting books in this area are "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg (which deals with motivation and habit formation), "Nudge" by Richard Thaler, or "Thinking Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman.

dritedonSep 4, 2017

Here's some: with why I like them

Thinking, problem solving related:

Superforecasting by Philip Tetlock: accurate forecasting

Thinking fast and slow by Daniel Kahneman: how to avoid bias

Misbehaving: like thinking fast and slow but more hilarious

The checklist manifesto by Atul Gawande: the power of simple process

From Darwin to Munger by Peter Bevelin: lots of mental models to add to your latticework

Business management:

The Outsiders by William Thorndike: capital allocation

The hard thing about hard things by Ben Horowitz: some mental models for managers facing the real-life struggles of startups

Zero to One by Peter Thiel and Blake masters: for the chapter on what kinds of business are always going to be tough (i.e. ones in perfectly competitive industries)


The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why violence has declined

The making of modern economics by Mark Skousen (audiobook): explains various economic ideas through telling the history of the fathers of those ideas.


You can be a stock market genius by Joel Greenblatt: where to look for undervaluation

The Essays of Warren Buffett by Lawrence Cunningham: Buffett's thoughts in Buffett's words, neatly categorised by topic

Competition Demystified by Bruce Greenwald: how to identify a high quality business

olalondeonMar 21, 2014

> People with a higher capacity intellectually can take in more information and see more moves ahead. That way there is a different perception on solution and it causes frustration for everyone.

I have a different theory. Assuming that:

- High IQ individuals tend to rely less on intuition and more on analytical thinking. <insert reference>

- IQ measures analytical thinking rather then intuition. <insert reference>

- Intuition often outperforms analytical thinking in many complex domains that require fast decision making (I believe the book "Thinking fast and slow" explores this theme). This could also be evidenced by the seeming lack of correlation between "success" and IQ, past a certain IQ level.

Then it could be possible that individuals who consistently outperform higher IQ individuals in a given domain find it frustrating working with them. The analytical person might point out flaws in their reasoning and the intuitive person might not be able to rationally defend their position although they are right.

Disclaimer: As someone who is (probably) high IQ and often victim of "over analysis"[0], I might just be projecting my own experience here. But intuitively, I'd say my theory makes sense ;)

[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analysis_paralysis

fprogonDec 27, 2018

I read this book in 2016 as I was trying to overcome a number of bad personal and professional habits and make other positive changes in my life. I highly recommend it.

I think there’s an argument to be made that your personality is made of habits. If you’re trying to change how you act or think in some domain of life, but you sometimes feel locked in a stalemate with your own mind, do consider taking a look at Fiore’s book.

If you’re familiar with Thinking: Fast and Slow, you could consider this book a how-to guide for using System 2 to change System 1 processes.

77pt77onDec 23, 2018

> Thinking, Fast and Slow: Really should have been subtitled The Ludic Fallacy Run Amok.

Recently I read Blink by Malcom Gladwell (somewhat recommend) and I finally understood why I hated Thinking, Fast and Slow so much.

Gladwell mentions a concept called thin-sliccing [1]. I finally had a term to describe my feelings towards that book. If you pay attention to the beginning you get a pretty accurate idea of just how bad the book really is overall.

Given the book's subject I find the whole thing deliciously ironic.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thin-slicing

bambaxonOct 16, 2014

> A popular example is the finding that most drivers think they are a better-than-average driver.

The explanation in the article (that most people really are good drivers and that the average is drawn "low" because of very bad drivers) is flat-out wrong.

The correct explanation is described in detail in Daniel Kahneman' Thinking, Fast and Slow. It's impossible to assess our own position on the grand scale of driving ability; when the brain gets asked a difficult question, it quietly changes the question to a similar one, much easier to answer.

So when people are asked "are you a better-than-average driver", since they have no idea what the average is (or what the average means) they answer instead the question "am I an okay driver" and answer "yes".

This is probably what happens with prisoners too (or, they're actually kinder than the average people they know, and that's why they got caught).

mettamageonAug 2, 2015


The book Search Inside Yourself by Chade-Meng Tan the best book I know. It describes scientifically studied exercises of the mind that you can do by yourself. It will boost your empathy much higher than anything I've experienced (or read about on Sciencedaily). It explains the science too and you can look it up. One thing though, reading the book is part 1, part 2 is performing the exercises. If you won't perform the exercises, then reading the book has not much of a purpose.

In my experience, I got to amazing levels of empathy by doing these exercises. I felt like I had godlike skills. My intuition could immediately signal me if a woman liked me (first time ever in my life). Two months later I was in a relationship. I could spot feelings that my friends had that they were not aware of.

There are some caveats though, which goes for any book that will be presented here. The moment I stopped practicing, my level got down a bit above baseline before I started. So most structural gains are hard to keep, which goes for any trained skill. Another downside is that everything you see has a bigger impact on you. So when you'd go to an action movie, you'd feel like you're right in it. When you look at a rose you feel like you're a rose, that sort of thing. When you drink one sip of alcohol you feel the effect of it already on your perception in very subtle ways (that might be a good thing though).

Some final thoughts: I believe books train deliberation aka the slow system. Exercises, mental or physical, train the fast system. Checkout Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. I believe it's a useful approximation to how thinking works. Also, while empathy is a big component in becoming better, it's not the only component.

klenwellonJune 18, 2015

I got excited when I saw the cover of Thinking Fast and Slow. But he failed to mention what I found to be one of the most insightful parts of that book: interviewing.

He kinda touched on it at the end with #1: "Know what you're looking for".

Kahneman is more explicit in Thinking Fast and Slow: come up with a simple rubric of 5 or 6 traits you're looking for in your new hire and ask questions that allow you to score each candidate on a scale of 1 to 5 for each. When you're done, choose the candidate with the highest score.

Maybe the technical ability score gets double-weighted for developers. But it seems like a lot of the interview process (and discussion of it) fixates on this. Well this and, of course, vague impressions of the candidate's personality. In my experience, this misses other key things that make up a competent programmer and worthwhile employee.

In the spirit of Thinking Fast and Slow, here's a question. As an interviewer, what are the 5 most important traits or qualities you look for in a candidate?

d33onOct 19, 2016

Related to this topic: someone (Derbasti) once recommended me [1] "Thinking: Fast and Slow" by economy Nobel-winning Kahneman. This is a book about dozens of ways humans fail to reason properly and a huge part of this book addresses the problem of heuristics we use to estimate risk, probability, costs... absolutely a must-read.

[1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11555148

ryanmoldenonAug 27, 2012

I seem to recall reading this in Thinking Fast and Slow[1], but I can't find an online citation and only have the book in dead-tree form at home.

I suspect it falls into this general realm: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effort_justification

edit: Specifically I believe I recall this (from the linked Wikipedia page) in Thinking Fast and Slow:

One of the first and most classic examples of effort justification is Aronson and Mills's study.[2] A group of young women who volunteered to join a discussion group on the topic "Psychology of Sex" were asked to do a small reading test to make sure they were not too embarrassed to talk about sexual-related topics with others. The mild-embarrassment condition subjects were asked to read aloud a list of sex-related words such as "prostitute" or "virgin". The severe-embarrassment condition subjects were asked to read aloud a list of highly sexual words (e.g. "fuck", "cock") and to read two vivid descriptions of sexual activity taken from contemporary novels. All subjects then listened to a recording of a discussion about "Sexual Behavior in Animals" which was dull and unappealing. When asked to rate the group and its members, control and mild-embarrassment groups did not differ, but the severe-embarrassment group's ratings were significantly higher. This group, whose initiation process was more difficult (embarrassment = effort), had to increase their subjective value of the discussion group to resolve the dissonance.

The cited study is: Aronson, E., & Mills, J. (1959) The effect of severity of initiation on liking for a group. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology ,59, 177-181.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Fast-Slow-Daniel-Kahneman/dp/...

arendtioonDec 4, 2020

I find it funny that the author chose 'Thinking, Fast and Slow' as the title image as that is one of the books I read and I am 100% certain there is so much more to learn from that book than what I have learned. How do I know?

After reading said book, I read a few other books and some of them actually cited 'Thinking, Fast and Slow' and applied some of the concepts in new contexts and sometimes I thought 'Wow, I didn't realize the implications when I read the original book'.

So I think it is actually a book that is well worth to be actively read, but currently I still find myself struggling to keep integrating the lessons from 'How to make friends and influence people' into my everyday actions.

vo1donDec 19, 2017

- The Innovator's Dilemma by Clay Christensen

- Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

- A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking

- The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

- Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

- The Industries of the Future by Alec Ross

- Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

- Start with No by Jim Camp

- How Google Works by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg

- The Everything Store by Brad Stone

- The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly

robrenaudonMar 16, 2016

Unfortunately, the article is down right now, so I don't have the context for that quote.

But in "Thinking Fast and Slow", Daniel Kahneman makes that same point that most of our reasoning is kind of heuristic pattern matching. There are lots of experiments that show evidence of this behavior cited in his book. Certainly people can turn it off and logically reason about things when desired, but it's slow and taxing, and the heuristics people live by mostly work, so it's frequently unneeded.

nicoburnsonSep 5, 2019

People don't understand Myers-Briggs. The scientific experiments all test against questionnaire results, which are admittedly pretty useless. But the theory posits internal mechanisms, and nobody has determined a reliable to measure this yet (except expert-guided self-assessment - which is pretty reliable, but generally disregarded by researchers). And most of the studies don't even use this model, and fallback to a frankly ridiculous trait model.

The two fundamental distinctions made by the theory are introversion/extraversion and "judgement"/"perception" aka rational/irrational which remarkably similar to Dual-process theory's System 1 and System 2 thinking (as popularised by Daniel Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow).

Both of these models have a ton of experimental evidence validating them. Myers-Briggs just needs a reformulated hypothesis that removes all the Jungian jargon, and explicitly puts it in these terms. When that happens, and with advances in neuroscience, the flood gates for evidence for Myers-Briggs will open.

I wrote my undergraduate dissertation on this topic, and I'm vaguely planning to turn it into a book at some point.

mindcrimeonDec 21, 2017


Tough to call. I got a lot out of Deep Work by Cal Newport, The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday, How To Win At The Sport Of Business by Mark Cuban, Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, and The Engines of Creation by Eric Drexler, as well as the three Grant Cardone books I read: The 10x Rule, Sell or Be Sold and Be Obsessed or Be Average.


I'll go with The Whispering Room by Dean Koontz. A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami was also pretty good.

You can see the entire list of what I've read lately (and further back) on my Goodreads profile:


or, if this link is visible publicly, on this "2017 in books" page:


davemel37onJuly 20, 2015

If your startup succeeded, I wouldnt call it overconfidence. Still, if you subscribe to the lean startup philosophy your confidence should be based on cohort analysis and data not gut feelings.

In his book Thinking Fast and Slow he talks about the way we believe things.

When encountering an idea our system 1 believes it automatically and than our system 2 considers the consequences of believing it and decides if you should UnBelieve it.

They found that when system 2 is tied up or exhausted you are more likely to believe something thats false because your system 2 didnt consider unbelieving it. This is why late night commericials and infomercials worked so well.

The danger you describe is in a case of uncertainty having confidence...Daniel Kahneman is talking about a case where you could know forsure but because of a cognitive bias you are overconfident without relying on statistical evidence which may be to the contrary.

matthewcantyonAug 14, 2014

Please read: 'Thinking Fast and Slow' by Daniel Kahneman (Note: the last 1/3 of this book is quite arduous and not really related to your issues...).

'Thinking Fast and Slow' changed the way I think about everything. In fact I need to read it again.

I like you have had perhaps two periods of feeling incredible inadequate since I moved to London 3 years ago. The quarter-life crisis is well recognised if you do a quick search.

One thing is certain: Money != Happiness. Last time I received a pay rise I requested a day off every fortnight. That day I get so much done, it is unbelievable. Just that day makes me happy. My aim is to keep reducing the number of days I spend sitting in offices.

> I'm 25 years old and I am lost

I can easily look back and apply the same sentence to the way I've felt at times.

Good luck!

PS email me if you would like more advice. I mull over this sort of stuff almost indefinitely.

WalterBrightonMar 12, 2017

My point is that buy and hold is actually a more sophisticated investment strategy than one might think. For one thing, knowing enough about investment vehicles to pick the right buy and hold is straightforward only if you know what you're doing. And secondly, uneducated investors are usually convinced their clever strategy they made up on the spot will beat the market - they just refuse to believe in buy & hold. And thirdly, cognitive biases that destroy investment returns are fairly well documented in the book "Thinking Fast and Slow".

The article completely supports my point, in showing how awfully the average investor does compared with the buy and hold investor.

jgillonAug 27, 2014

This is a really good link to share. Thanks, I also ordered Thinking, Fast and Slow the book because of this posting and the comments. This thread has been pretty interesting to me even from an "at speed of thought" perspective.

Certainly in lower levels of education, "fast" thinking against known problems and problemsets is the norm (at least in the United States). I worked with a few "fast" thinkers that fell into a strange, at the time to me, category of people that I could recognize as intelligent and could solve a certain class of issue or problem easily, but when it came to a more difficult problem space or perhaps one that requires delayed gratification (or no real external recognition/validation/praise) they would give up. The "deep" thinkers seemed to give equal or near equal weight to the validity of options in many cases. There's a time, place, and type of problem that can benefit from each mode of thinking.

AaronFrielonJune 23, 2015

This is very dangerous advice indeed. You got lucky, you got out in 2007: for every person like you, there are many more who thought they had the answer too (and knew when to get out) and did so too late. This is the irrational exuberance of markets, as documented in every cycle in history.

Don't read Mises.org, or at least not only. Read John Kenneth Galbraith's work: "A Short History of Financial Euphoria", "The Great Crash". Read Michael Lewis' work: "Boomerang", "The Big Short". Read even the pop economics works that expand on how people think, versus how they act: "Nudge", "Thinking: Fast and Slow".

Read Nate Silver's "The Signal and the Noise", and you'll see that predicting the market has improved no more than earthquakes has. There is no "physics" of the market, there are no silver bullets and predictors who understand everything will happen. If those people existed and acted on their bets, they would be wealthy beyond reason.

Skip "The Black Swan", and go straight for "Antifragile". It's Taleb's opus, according to him, but it describes the error in trying to make these predictions. They're very fragile. Your 2007 "pulling out of the market" could have been brilliance or folly, and you just happened to get lucky.

But don't take my word for it, take this quote by Keynes:

"The market can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent."

No one can predict the future, least of all the irrational herd mentality of the market. Anyone who says they can, or they have a formula, or that they know "when to pull out of the market" is a charlatan or lucky, or both.

itsdrewmilleronMar 28, 2019

Thinking Fast and Slow is a good book that is not at all a cheesy self-help pamphlet. It's a review of some of the more surprising findings of behavioral economics, and a discussion of how we should and shouldn't rely on heuristics in our decision making. It does suffer a little bit in that some of the topics have failed replication, and it could be about half as long as it actually is.

zeroamionJune 30, 2016

> I tend to not be convinced by self-improvement recommendations that aren't explicitly tailored to specific people and their personalities. There are so many variables in play!

I tend to agree with this sentiment especially considering I have read and tried to apply quite a few in my own life.

However, I am currently working my way through Thinking, Fast and Slow[0] and I can't recommend it enough. It's not so much a self-improvement/help book as it is a way to define the language we use in speaking about the different systems of the brain (think intuitive vs effortful). Worth the read.


SymmetryonJune 7, 2015

I'm just going to answer with the books that rearranged my understanding of the world the most. In no particular order.

"Thinking Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman.

"Quantum Computing since Democritus" by Scott Aaronson.

"The Strategy of Conflict" by Thomas Schelling.

"Guns, Germs, and Steel" and "The World until Yesterday" by Jared Diamond.

"The Retreat To Commitment" by W. W. Bartley.

"The Myth of the Rational Voter" by Bryan Caplan. Despite the name it made me appreciate democracy a lot more.

"Wars, Guns, and Votes" by Paul Collier.

watwutonSep 22, 2020

> Picture some serious non-fiction tomes. The Selfish Gene; Thinking, Fast and Slow; Guns, Germs, and Steel; etc. Have you ever had a book like this—one you’d read—come up in conversation, only to discover that you’d absorbed what amounts to a few sentences?

Maybe those books are specifically bad? I haven't read them, but I had long monologues about some historical books I read giving people basically lectures on topic.

And my brain recalls facts and situations from them when it is associated in unrelated discussions too.

xbryanxonDec 4, 2016

If you're implementing the 'positive reinforcement over negative' approach into your life, it's important to trust the large body of research that demonstrates its effectiveness. Be skeptical of your own internal perception of its effects. I find that when I'm working to make positive reinforcement work, the outlier failures stand out so much larger in my mind. I struggle to understand that it's working in the long run despite my infrequent emotional reactions of anger, frustration, failure, etc.

There's some fascinating reading on the cognitive biases that are at play here in Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow.

_eonJan 23, 2018

Nassim Taleb wrote in one of his books that he intentionally articulates his beliefs in a somewhat difficult to understand fashion otherwise people wouldn't take him seriously.

Malcolm Gladwell and Daniel Kahneman (author of Thinking, Fast and Slow) both credit Nassim Taleb for a lot of inspiration in their books.

Someone mentioned to me that Benoit Mandelbrot (author of (Mis)behavior of Markets) inspired Nassim Taleb for a lot of his thoughts.

So there... read Mandelbrot, Gladwell and Kahneman to understand Nassim Taleb.

arafaonAug 27, 2015

The biggest objection I have to self-reported studies and the conclusions drawn from them in articles like this is that, according to research in books like Thinking, Fast and Slow, a lot of self-reported facts (including beliefs) are often wrong. Revealed preferences will often show that people believe something different from what they report. And people will fervently believe they told you the right thing. Also, a lot of the findings of these studies end up not being repeatable or have very small effects. I've gotten to the point where I unconsciously put little value in opinion polls and other self-reported data, unless I have a good reason to think otherwise.

ordinarypersononOct 25, 2020

Silver's 2012 book "The Signal and the Noise" discusses our inability to rationally process probability, pointing out that commercial weather forecasts (e.g. Accuweather) never list a probably of rain under 20-25%. A 5% chance of rain is a mathematical possibility but people "feel" like 5% = "will never happen" and get angry if it rains.

Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman's life's work is about this, what he calls "System 1" and "System 2" of our brain, where System 1 is a fast responder that provides insta-feedback but is largely incapable of processing mathematical inputs. His 2011 book "Thinking Fast and Slow" summarizes his work well.

I'm not sure popular media can be trained to frame statistical probabilities in a way that doesn't provide people with the certainty they crave. But who knows?

OrwellianChildonAug 25, 2015

@yummyfajitas - I often appreciate the clear thinking you can bring to a discussion, but I just as often see you reduce human beings to logic machines in ways that are unfair to both them and your intellect...

There is a large and growing body of research around the limitations and capabilities of human decision making that shows just how/when these gaps appear. At a very basic level, poor (and otherwise distracted/overwhelmed) people suffer from decision fatigue [1]. There is much more going on, however, and I'm sure you'd find the studies fascinating, given your penchant for data-driven analysis. I cannot recommend Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow for starters...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decision_fatigue

nostrademonsonMar 27, 2019

This aside is more speculative and significantly based on personal experience doing 2 green-field products for one employer, founding 3 startups, and doing some internal research projects at Google...

But what I've noticed is that aside from frequently co-occurring with creative work, depression and anxiety are frequently the trigger to finding a non-obvious solution and making forward progress. In other words, they're not just mental disorders; they're feelings that can give you useful signal about how to proceed next, if you listen very carefully to them. Anxiety is basically your emotional systems being hyper-engaged, such that you get an emotional response from nearly everything. Depression feels like the opposite, a deadening of your emotional senses, but oftentimes escaping the depression actually points the way to escaping your real-world problem. If you can imagine a future where you are not depressed (which if you've suffered clinical depression is actually quite difficult), very likely that's a strong signal that that's what you should actually be doing, no matter how weird or unreasonable it sounds.

There's some evidence for this hypothesis here (2009):


You could also think of the anxiety related to creative work in relation to System 1 of the brain in Daniel Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow. In highly ambiguous circumstances (which basically all creative work is), it makes sense for your brain to become hypersensitive to all available stimuli, and to quickly pattern-match on a course of action without too much rational consideration. We experience that sort of emotional overload as anxiety.

StavrosKonMar 3, 2013

In which heuristic algorithm did you learn about the fundamental attribution error, hindsight bias, or confirmation bias?

Programming doesn't teach you cognitive biases. You don't become more aware of yourself by programming. You learn more about human logic by reading "Thinking, fast and slow" than by programming for your entire life.

aethertaponJuly 16, 2013

I read about some research* regarding ego depletion and its relationship to blood glucose levels that was pretty interesting. Basically, they did a study with two groups of people. Both were asked to do some challenging problems requiring concentration, then both were given lemonade. One group's lemonade was sweetened with glucose, and the other with some artificial sweetener. The two groups were then asked to do more challenging problems. I can't recall the actual numbers, but the group that had glucose in their lemonade did significantly better on the second round than the other group, and the two groups were about the same on the first round.

The implication was that the brain uses glucose in its operation, and requires a certain level of glucose to function at full capacity. At least one cause of the brain fog we get after a full day's focused work is that we're low on fuel, which happens to be easy to fix. Unfortunately, it has other effects too that we might not want so much. I've been meaning to experiment on myself a bit with some glucose tabs after a long day of code, but haven't gotten around to it yet.

(*) I think that was in "Thinking, Fast and Slow" but I'm not certain now, too many similar books in between.

sweetjesusonNov 13, 2016

This is going to be difficult to accept probably, but fwiw here's the gist of what modern psychiatry has to say: the brain is not divided into conscious thought and unconscious thought; rather, all the brain's work takes place unconsciously, on all topics, all the time. What we then call consciousness is a product of the fully occupied and engaged unconscious mind.

So in terms of the headline, your unconscious is not a better developer than you are; your unconscious is your only developer.

Furthermore, [while emotion and logic both exist] there are not logical thoughts and emotional thoughts, emotion is engaged in thought all the time. You will actually form different "logical" conclusions on the basis of your mood, emotional state, etc. (As an example in grossly stereotypical terms, this is what you might imagine happening "so clearly" in a PMSing woman; the fallacy is that men are not doing the same thing all the time, they are.) So, to the blog poster's point, his unconscious "better developer" is actually the emotional preoccupations of his consciousness getting in the way of his being able to get to realize what his uncounscious developer is capable of. [Didn't mean to overstate that: in the case where he notices his unconscious mind coming up with good work, sometimes it just takes more time to create/uncover a good solution; just saying it's the same portions of the brain continuing to chew on the problem, conscious or not.]

For people interested, the brain science book "Thinking Fast and Slow" is very good, it will convince you that your brain does not work the way you think it does. It doesn't necessarily say all what I said above, some of that comes from psychiatry. Freud's enduring contribution to the field was his realization how much unconscious thought was taking place. BTW the term "unconscious" is preferred because historically in the field, "subconscious" is a term associated with Jung's "collective unconscious".

gbogonApr 15, 2014

> every individual behaves in their best interest

Daniel Kahneman says this has been proven false in his book Thinking Fast and Slow.

It think it is wrong on two levels. First individual's "perceived best interest" is often very far off of their real interest. Second, individual, and not only a few edge cases, are often not behaving in their best interest, even if we consider it to be their "perceived best interest".

Kahneman listed the three attributes of humans modelized as "econs" in the most common economic model: They are rational, selfish and their taste do not change over time. All three are obviously wrong.

moyixonMar 24, 2015

This sort of thing is really fascinating. I've been reading Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow recently, and at the same I've been trying to make a difficult decision between two job offers.

I have been astounded to discover how irrational my thought processes are, even though this is an important choice and I'm consciously trying to avoid instinctive and emotional decisions: I see evidence of halo effects, risk aversion, substituting difficult comparisons for easier ones ("what's the better work environment?" is hard, but "where did I have conversations I liked better?" is easy), and more.

Overall I wouldn't actually recommend trying to learn about cognitive biases in the midst of making an important decision – it's really, really easy to tie yourself up in knots! E.g. "Do I like them better because I interviewed with them more recently (availability heuristic)? Am I making the mistake of preferring the easy certainty of having made up my mind over the discomfort of making a complex choice?"

It's a really cool field of research, though.

Edit: One interesting "hack" the book mentions is how to game feedback. Essentially, we decide how frequent something is by how easily we can call to mind examples of it. However, past about six items, most people will have trouble coming up with examples of anything; however, unless they're aware of this fact, the difficulty of coming up with the later examples can cause them to erroneously think it's not very frequent after all.

So, for example, if a professor in a course evaluation requires students to list 12 ways to improve the course, students will actually rate the course more highly than if they are only asked for three! Evil uses for this are left to the reader's imagination.

TossittoonMar 19, 2021

I don't believe so. The state by its nature wants to find equilibrium like practically every other system. One of the paths of least resistance is the manipulation of the public into an unthinking, docile, and generally inert individual. This makes everything much more predictable and controllable, which brings it closer to equilibrium.

You could intuit this sort of outcome, perhaps, from a reading of "Thinking, Fast and Slow". Humans don't really do well with probability, we want definitive binary outcomes that aren't reliant on probability. We want a quiet, well defined day to day. Politicians want the same thing (alongside a disproportionately large allotment of control and wealth in return). Want though, is the difficulty, because the reality is that the underpinnings of practically all human functions and the world in itself are fairly chaotic.

I think you're under the impression it's a noble goal in the name of progress, but [genuine] progress is disruptive in every field. That disruption breaks the equilibrium, and makes the quiet day a rather loud lifetime.

"May you live in interesting times."

egjerlowonApr 15, 2016

The mention of the availability heuristic reminds me of the book 'Thinking, fast and slow' by Daniel Kahneman. Read it just a month ago and it was a real eye-opener. It's a book whose points I would like to have condensed into a bullet list so I can review it every now and again to remind me of the lessons that I should remember.

plainOldTextonMar 19, 2016

Actually, contrary to popular belief the party that makes the first offer could have the upper hand. This advantage is due to what psychologists call "the anchoring principle" [1], which is one of many cognitive biases.

[1] Thinking, Fast and Slow - by Daniel Kahneman

[2] http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-negotiate-make-first-o...

misiti3780onDec 19, 2016

Fitting I'm currently re-reading "Thinking Fast and Slow" and there is a chapter on expertise:

From the book:

When do judgments reflect true expertise?

An environment that is sufficiently regular to be predictable an opportunity to learn these regularities through prolonged practice. (aka not economics)

When both these conditions are satisfied, intuitions are likely to be skilled.

Intuition cannot be trusted in the absence of stable regularities in the environment.

If the environment is sufficiently regular and if the judge has had a chance to learn its regularities, the associative machinery will recognize situations and generate quick and accurate predictions and decisions. You can trust someone’s intuitions if these conditions are met.

When evaluating expert intuition you should always consider whether there was an adequate opportunity to learn the cues, even in a regular environment.

ElFitzonApr 26, 2020

I am definitely in favor of looking for diversified opinions, from people with diverse backgrounds, some of them specialized in the field.
Diverse inputs are way more interesting than those of a single group of people with similar or homogenous background.

That being said. First, most people aren't qualified to have and give their opinions on most topics. Most of us are clueless dingbats when it comes to most things, including figuring out what makes someone fit to lead a country. Or a city.

Yet it was decided it was best to give us all a vote. Go figure ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Second, opinions of outsiders have shown remarquable results in some fields. Such as Daniel Kahneman's (a psychologist, coincidentally) in economics. His insights lead to behavioral economics.

In that specific case, only someone having had their entire education and career in the field of economics, being indoctrinated by all those before them, could really believe people and organizations behaved even remotely like rational agents.
That this model was enough to make sense of the (economic) world, at any scale (on this topic, his book, "Thinking Fast and Slow", yields some remarquable insights on 'experts')

So, while I share in your desire for an increased quality and diversity in information, knowledge and opinions sources, please do 'put a little water in your wine'.

dash2onJuly 12, 2021

Thinking Fast and Slow is also a serious book. There have been some hits on how Kahneman wrote up priming, but few dispute he and Tversky have a big body of brilliant and rigorous research. They don't deserve to be on the same list as Freud, Sacks or (probably) Ariely. While those guys are interesting, all are rather less scientific. Cialdini I'm not sure about. His "Focus Theory of Normative Conduct" has been very influential but perhaps it is a one-trick pony?

colmvponFeb 17, 2016

I wonder how many employ Kahneman's recommendation based on his book, "Thinking, Fast and Slow":

> Suppose that you need to hire a sales representative for your firm. If you are serious about hiring the best possible person for the job, this is what you should do. First, select a few traits that are prerequisites for success in this position (technical proficiency, engaging personality, reliability, and so on. Don't overdo it — six dimensions is a good number. The traits you choose should be as independent as possible from each other, and you should feel that you can assess them reliably by asking a few factual questions. Next, make a list of those questions for each trait and think about how you will score it, say on a 1-5 scale. You should have an idea of what you will call "very weak" or "very strong."

> These preparations should take you half an hour or so, a small investment that can make a significant difference in the quality of the people you hire. To avoid halo effects, you must collect the information on one trait at a time, scoring each before you move on to the next one. Do not skip around. To evaluate each candidate add up the six scores ... Firmly resolve that you will hire the candidate whose final score is the highest, even if there is another one whom you like better — try to resist your wish to invent broken legs to change the ranking. A vast amount of research offers a promise: you are much more likely to find the best candidate if you use this procedure than if you do what people normally do in such situations, which is to go into the interview unprepared and to make choices by an overall intuitive judgment such as "I looked into his eyes and liked what I saw."

sevenlessonAug 16, 2016

Let me quote Daniel Kahneman in "Thinking, Fast and Slow"

"The social norm against stereotyping, including the opposition to profiling, has been highly beneficial in creating a more civilized and more equal society. It is useful to remember, however, that neglecting valid stereotypes inevitably results in suboptimal judgments. Resistance to stereotyping is a laudable moral position, but the simplistic idea that the resistance is costless is wrong. The costs are worth paying to achieve a better society, but denying that the costs exist, while satisfying to the soul and politically correct, is not scientifically defensible. Reliance on the affect heuristic is common in politically charged arguments. The positions we favor have no cost and those we oppose have no benefits. We should be able to do better."

–Daniel Kahneman, Nobel laureate, in Thinking, Fast and Slow, chapter 16

seanxhonMar 7, 2017

I have three recommendations: 1.read "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman 2. think in Bayesian term about statistic when you see the "facts" they claim from a report 3. being okay with the fact that you might waste time and efforts or being wrong on thinking regarding about issues (disclaimer: I am not a psychologist or data scientist)

moxiousonFeb 18, 2017

There's a book called "Thinking Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman that talks about systematic bias in human heuristic thinking.

> The more easily people can call a scenario to mind, the more probable they find it.

This is practically a restatement of the "availability bias" from that book. It came to mind immediately when I saw the article's title "How can Medical Professionals Avoid Making Assumptions That Lead to Mistakes?"

The answer is probably that they can't, because they're human. One can put good processes in place, and do things like checklisting that dissuade people from making fast heuristic decisions (which we know are systematically, and predictably wrong). But people really hate stuff like that, doctors especially, and so it's an ongoing cultural battle.

Doctors in this regard are no different than software engineers, or plumbers, or any other human at work, they just get more attention when they screw up because people die.

WalterBrightonMar 12, 2017

Such would be a notable example of cognitive bias interfering with rational fiscal decision making. I mentioned earlier about such biases resulting in poor investment results.

I recommend again "Thinking Fast and Slow"'s section on how cognitive biases interfere with sound money management. Being aware of them can be very helpful in countering one's own unhelpful tendencies. Interestingly, the book details how professional money managers fall victim to them, even when they are made aware of such biases.

This is one aspect where computer algorithmic investing can do better. One can dispassionately program out such biases.

misiti3780onDec 22, 2016

I read 47 books so far:

* Oxygen (Lane)

* The Vital Question (Lane)

* Mitochondria and the meaning of life (Lane)

* Life Ascending (Lane)

* Shoe Dog (Knight)

* Heat (Buford)

* Thinking Fast And Slow (Daniel K, 3rd time reading it)

* Fluent Forever (Wyner)

* Dark Money (Mayer)

* Elon Musk (Vance)

* The Black Swan (Taleb, 5th time reading it)

SwizeconAug 3, 2021

Syntopic reading can be really rewarding. For example, once you read Thinking Fast and Slow, and a few of Taleb’s books, suddenly you notice implicit and explicit references in virtually every business book published later than those.

A similar effect can be found with Grit, Fogg’s Behavior Model, Superforecasting, and most Gladwel books.

On the coding side, I’ve only noticed this with Pragmatic Programmer, Clean Code, and maybe Phoenix/Unicorn project. Could I don’t read enough of those or they’re too focused on specific technologies instead of broad ideas … or I get too much of my technical reading from blogs and twitter. Those do get repetitive and you quickly find common patterns, but no titles to refer to.

steegoonMar 21, 2016

Daniel Kahneman talks about an idea called substitution in his book Thinking Fast and Slow that I think really applies here. Here's the jist: When your brain is faced with doing a task that's going to require a lot of glucose it will look for shortcuts to save you energy. One of those shortcuts is your mind will look for an available heuristic, swap out the energy hungry analysis for the heuristic, and then signal your conscious mind that you did all the analytical hard work.


I think the truth of that matter is, most of us (myself included), don't know how to interview people well. Interviewing is really hard. Rather than doing the hard work by researching the subject and testing ideas, most of us try to imitate successful companies much in the same way the Melanesian cargo cults imitated the construction of airfields and air traffic control towers to lure back that wonderful cargo.

I suspect we like to tell ourselves that we're more analytical because our work can demand rigorous precision. More often than not, I find we developers tend to select heuristics that indirectly test a person on how similar they are to ourselves or people we aspire to be like. Then again, I'm probably making a broad generalization.

alankay1onJune 20, 2016

This is a tough one to try to produce "through the keyhole" of this very non-WYSIWYG poorly thought through artifact of the WWW people not understanding what either the Internet or computer media are all about.

Let me just say that it's worth trying to understand what might be a "really good" balance between traditional oral culture learning and thinking, what literacy brings to the party, especially via mass media, and what the computer and pervasive networking should bring as real positive additions.

One way to assess what is going on now is partly a retreat from real literacy back to oral modes of communication and oral modes of thought (i.e. "texting" is really a transliteration of an oral utterance, not a literary form).

This is a disaster.

However, even autodidacts really need some oral discussions, and this is one reason to have a "school experience".

The question is balance. Fluent readers can read many times faster than oral transmissions, and there are many more resources at hand. This means in the 21st century that most people should be doing a lot of reading -- especially students (much much more reading than talking). Responsible adults, especially teachers and parents, should be making all out efforts to help this to happen.

For the last point, I'd recommend perusing Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking: Fast and Slow", and this will be a good basis for thinking about tradeoffs between actual interactions (whether with people or computers) and "pondering".

I think most people grow up missing their actual potential as thinkers because the environment they grow up in does not understand these issues and their tradeoffs....

unmoleonDec 23, 2018

I see loads of great suggestions in this thread, let me just add three of my LEAST favourite nonfiction books:

Thinking, Fast and Slow: Really should have been subtitled The Ludic Fallacy Run Amok. Filled with grand generalisations based on dubious conclusions from small under-powered behavioural experiments. Read if you want further evidence that Behavioural Economics, that bastard child of psychology is an edifice built on bullshit.

Masters of DOOM: A homage from a fanboy meant for other fanboys. It definitely has its bits of brilliance but it is still a chore to finish.

The Inner Game of Tennis: At 161 pages it might seem short but is in fact 160 pages too long. I bought it after someone on HN said its advice wasn't really about tennis but about life. I wonder what that person was smoking at the time.

eldavidoonJan 12, 2014

Am currently reading "Thinking Fast and Slow" by Kahneman, this is a perfect example of a base-rate fallacy (something addressed in the book).

Absent any other evidence, one should assume the amount of complaining a language would get is about proportional to how widely it's used. So the lack of complaining (asserted by the parent) about C# might be as much a reflection on how widely it's used, than on the language itself.

fotobluronMay 18, 2012

Great article and admittedly is how I feel sometimes as well. The day I heard of the $1B Instagram acquisition was a cloudy day for me since I also founded a photo social network over 4 years ago that is humming along slowly.

In Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman there is a section on media and how it mostly, and understandably, reports the more interesting edge cases. However a side effect of this causes the majority of people to believe car crashes are more common than heart attacks and often leads to poor judgements by utilization of the availability heuristic (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Availability_heuristic). The take home message for me is keep on keeping on.

amaionSep 2, 2020

The video is from 2011, so don't forget this:

"This result confirms Kahneman’s prediction that priming research is a train wreck and readers of his book “Thinking Fast and Slow” should not consider the presented studies as scientific evidence that subtle cues in their environment can have strong effects on their behavior outside their awareness."




jayhuangonApr 9, 2015

Some of my favourite books or books currently on my wishlist (in no particular order).
Many of these have been mentioned in other comments:

* Harry Potter series (thankfully I read this as a kid when I had more time)

* Thinking, Fast and Slow

* How to Win Friends and Influence People

* David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants

* Self-Made Man: One Woman's Year Disguised as a Man

* The Martian: A Novel

* How to Break a Terrorist: The U.S. Interrogators Who Used Brains, Not Brutality, to Take Down the Deadliest Man in Iraq

* Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets

* Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

* Outliers: The Story of Success

* The Rare Find: How Great Talent Stands Out

* The Martian's Daughter: A Memoir

* Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

* Ghost in the Wires: My Adventure as the World's Most Wanted Hacker

* The Better Angels of our Future

* Daemon

honzzzonAug 1, 2013

You mentioning 'psychological issues' reminded me of the (super interesting) book Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. In that book there is something about our ability to asses risk and emotionally perceive danger that is biased by dangers that typically occurred during many thousand years of human evolution - physical violence is evolutionary very old and that's why we react to it strongly. On the other side there are things that might be more dangerous (like obesity which kills way more people than terrorism) but evolutionary these are relatively new and we have yet to develop the 'sense of danger' to them.
[I am just paraphrasing that book - any mistakes made here are mine and Daniel Kahneman is totally innocent in this.]

0-_-0onMay 24, 2019

Wouldn't your approach be biased against people who need more time to come up with a solution, and against people who are not used to discussing their solutions with others in real time? You approach also doesn't include an objective measure of performance: Your judgement of the candidate could be highly dependent on their personality, instead of their actual skills. If I recall correctly the book "Thinking fast and slow" shows how easily interviewers are influenced by personality traits. Technical questions like "how do you invert a binary tree" or "what is KL-divergence" are much less personality dependent, and the quality of the answer is measurable.

Here is what I think are some important skills in data science:

Can you understand the principles behind existing solutions and build a new solution from those principles?

(How fast) can you understand a new approach and apply it to a problem?

How long does it take you to translate a solution to working code? How optimal, readable and reusable is it?

lqetonJan 19, 2019

I always had the suspicion (which may be wrong) that in questions like "which is a more likely outcome of 6 coin tosses, HHHHHH or HTHHTT", people tend to understand this question as: "which is a more likely outcome of 6 coin tosses, a sequence of 6 heads, or another sequence without any obvious regularity in it", in which case the latter is clearly the correct answer.

I have an additional suspicion: in my experience, people with slight autistic tendencies often have problems with sorting their impressions into broad, general categories, but instead always analyze (even remember) the exact impression (or "special case") they are confronted with. For people like this, the question "HHHHHH or HTHHTT" is a completely different question than for the majority of the population. So, the problem to me does not seem to be a problem with human intuition for probability (or with System 1, in Kahneman's words), but just one of semantics. If you go further and assume that scientists have a higher percentage of people with autistic tendencies than the general population, then the problem simply becomes one of communication between the researcher and the subject.

I read Thinking: Fast and Slow a few years ago and remember many experiments where it was clear to me that the subjects just answered a different question than the one the researcher asked them. And I do not mean that they "anchored" their answers on something else or they replaced the question with a different question because they had no answer to the original question - they just had a completely different understanding of the question itself, and their answers to this question were correct, even in System 2.

mvexelonFeb 5, 2019

I came here to recommend Thinking Fast and Slow. I'm not surprised that it was mentioned a few times already. I am about to head into my third read of it. If I had to pick one concept from this book that had the most impact on my decisions and the way I look at other people's decisions, it would have to be loss aversion / prospect theory.

daliusdonSep 5, 2019

I agree that case is not closed, however I was responding to very specific short sighted comment. About your points: Yes, you should understand if you or your relative is in low risk group. Honestly, if possible you should always understand and evaluate risks, whatever you are doing. Problem that humans are really bad with statistics (recommended reading "Thinking, Fast and Slow").

Lastly, you have actually read what I have posted and this is awesome. You can find more scientific sources about positive benefits of home birth. Lastly, I'm not saying that you should do it. My problem is that home births are semi-legal in my country ;-) Shortsighted comment was written by person from my country :-(

Matticus_RexonNov 13, 2018

Most of the reaction against modern economists for assuming rationality is just meme repetition. Yes, this is an accurate criticism of a tiny portion of modern economists, and of many economists of prior eras. One of my favorite books, Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow, is a prime example of how pervasive this meme is -- he seems completely unaware that the critique has largely been integrated into the field well before the time of publication. The assumption of rationality has been replaced by assumptions around bounded rationality and cognitive bias.

Modern economic theory is not some abstraction that doesn't resemble the real world, even in cases where the empirical evidence is as-yet weak (which it's not in this case, as is apparent to anyone who reads the whole entry).

naboavidaonJuly 22, 2016

Thinking, Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman. Learn why we're fools by nature.

Incerto - Nassim Nicholas Taleb (4 volumes, with The Black Swan as my favourite). Learn how not to be a fool, or at least, minimize its impacts.

The Startup Owner's Manual - Steve Blank. Learn how to find your way through the market.

skmurphyonSep 12, 2017

Summmary: explains context and background for a comment left by Kahneman https://replicationindex.wordpress.com/2017/02/02/reconstruc...

"I accept the basic conclusions of this blog. To be clear, I do so (1) without expressing an opinion about the statistical techniques it employed and (2) without stating an opinion about the validity and replicability of the individual studies I cited.

What the blog gets absolutely right is that I placed too much faith in underpowered studies. [...] My position when I wrote “Thinking, Fast and Slow” was that if a large body of evidence published in reputable journals supports an initially implausible conclusion, then scientific norms require us to believe that conclusion. Implausibility is not sufficient to justify disbelief, and belief in well-supported scientific conclusions is not optional. This position still seems reasonable to me, but the argument only holds when all relevant results are published."

[Edit/add] Kahneman also outlined an approach to address concerns in 2012 in an open letter in Nature see https://www.nature.com/polopoly_fs/7.6716.1349271308!/suppin... [linked from https://replicationindex.wordpress.com/2017/02/02/reconstruc...] which was apparently ignored by the priming researchers.

hibrokenonMar 24, 2016

The book Thinking, Fast and Slow suggests the answer isn't this simple.

It's often bad. Studies show human decision makers are often inferior to a prediction formula.

But it's also good. It adds value as one more row in your rubric, after a disciplined collection of objective information and disciplined scoring of separate traits.

According to the book: do not simply trust intuitive judgement - your own or than of others - but do not dismiss it either.

Remember this rule: intuition cannot be trusted in the absence of stable regularities in the environment.

Then there's the Einstein quote:

  The only real valuable thing is intuition.

paulsutteronApr 1, 2012

The urge to play the lottery is a very normal cognitive bias. I know it has a negative expected return, but I do feel drawn to play it when the prize gets very large. The actual reason I didn't participate is that my aversion to waiting in line is even stronger than my urge to buy a ticket.

Dan Kahneman's book "Thinking Fast and Slow" is good reading for anyone who thinks that only stupid people feel the urge to play the lottery. It's more subtle than that, and worth understanding because these biases affect all of us in many important decisions.

Note that the lottery has about the same expected return as insurance (around 50% I think), and I've always bought insurance for risks I don't want to cover personally. Is overpaying to cover downside risks "smart" but overpaying for big upsides "stupid"? I don't have an opinion either way. If I consider the question, I can't tell if my own opinion would be more informed by my knowledge of psychology and statistics, or by my attitudes about prudence and waste.

greenduckonSep 21, 2020

He did spend time talking about "interdimensional pedophiles" with Alex Jones [1].

> How does one distinguish a pseudo-intellectual from a real intellectual?

Well, that's certainly not something I'm qualified to answer. However, I was reading "Thinking Fast and Slow" recently and one of the heuristics for identifying if there can be real expertise formed in a subject or not is if it has regularity. IE, you can't have expertise if the outputs of some process are dominated by chance. I'd start there.

The problem is people who use cargo cult science as a selling point for their particular ideas which are usually political in nature or maybe have to do with startups or the stock market. Things that if they were a truly decided science, we wouldn't be arguing over in the first place. They take bad results with tiny sample sizes and pawn them off as fact and then because "facts don't care about your feelings" they feel justified calling anybody that doesn't believe in whatever it is they're selling an idiot.

[1] https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/9kv9qd/the-joe-rogan-expe...

gfodyonOct 21, 2020

> There is no meaningful data that any hiring process--good or bad--improves the outcome of a hire.

Daniel Kahneman analyzed a bunch of data that lead him to concluded that the typical interview process did nothing to help select the best candidate. There's a chapter about it in Thinking Fast And Slow [1] and the advice he gives is summarized in this article [2]. I remember thinking after reading this book that it was just a matter of time until everyone everywhere would be denouncing interviews but here we are - old habits die hard.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Fast-Slow-Daniel-Kahneman/dp...

[2] https://www.businessinsider.com/daniel-kahneman-on-hiring-de...

therealdrag0onMay 8, 2017

I've come to realize this. I've always been a reader, but after college and after getting into audio-books, I took to it in earnest. I peaked at reading 75 books in 2012 (and BIG ones too, History of Third Reich, Thinking: Fast and Slow, Ulysses, Godel-Escher-Bach etc...).

And after that I was like 'wew. Okay, I enjoyed that and learned a lot and have, but my life isn't THAT much better because of it.' I've definitely traded investing in relationships or other hobbies for it.

So I've since to slowed down to about 27 a year, and have found that's a good pace for me.

jfoutzonSep 26, 2012

Biologically, fear, not panic, makes you vigilant. One way to think about it, in good times you can afford to waste resources trying all sorts of random stuff. In bad times, every last scrap counts.

There's a book i've been enjoying [Thinking Fast and Slow](http://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Fast-Slow-Daniel-Kahneman/dp/...) that addresses this in great detail.

definedonAug 8, 2017

> Same applies to Big Macs, pizza, slushies, Cheetos, TV, seating, laziness, political pundits, marijuana, ...

> In the end it is all about caveat emptor: is up to the customer to decide.

In a balanced world, where choices are relatively evenly spread, this may be true.

In a world where the number of harmful choices far exceed the number of healthful ones, and the harmful ones are much more profitable (and so promoted more heavily), free choice becomes a different proposition.

However much willpower, intelligence, and savviness we think we have, we get tripped up by our firmware defects, even when we know they are there and try to be wary[1].

Deliberately exposing ourselves to proven brain hacks and thinking we are immune and have real choices is ... inadvisable.

Anyone who is diabetic (or simply overweight) and tries to buy or eat food that is not harmful to the pancreas will appreciate how eternally vigilant one must be to avoid the cleverly hidden food label traps, and how choice is manipulated, cynically and incessantly, by the US food industry.

Extrapolate this to most US industries, and re-evaluating "choice" may be a depressing task.

[1]: Thinking: Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman

EDIT: typo

gbogonAug 28, 2013

> If you don't consistently apply it, it becomes worthless.


Having read Thinking Fast and Slow and been convinced by this book's many useful views, I would agree that a simple questionnaire-based ranking is actually better than any subjective assessment of candidates. And it should be as neutral as possible, ie not letting one's "first impression" influence the ranking (because it is almost always based on irrelevant physical features).

But even then, there is no reason for this neutral evaluation to become worthless if not 100% consistently applied. There is the broken leg case: If you want to evaluate the probability of someone going to see a movie tonight, you just base yourself on simple statistical facts (how frequently people go to the movie in this country), and should not try to infer more from subjective context, except if the guy in question broke his leg this morning.

These tests and evaluations help much in reducing system bias due to halo fallacy, framing effect, and even time of the day for the evaluator (it has been proven juges are more lenient after lunch!), but they still are only helpers, they do not need to be decision-blocking.

IsaacLonApr 2, 2014

London, UK - Board Intelligence hiring Rails and Javascipt (ideally Angular.js) developers. Remote a possibility.


Our goal is to improve decision-making at the boards of the world's largest companies.

Most corporate boards are run ineffectively. Think how effective they could be, and think how much that could improve the ways companies are run. (Not just in terms of profitability, but also in terms of ethics and long-term value).

BI has a successful consulting business and now aims to become a high-growth tech business. Our app is used by CEOs and directors of some of the UK's largest companies, and we're now expanding internationally.

Culture: despite our corporate target market, we're a young, small team (~15 people, 4 on the tech team, most employees in their 20s). Many of the non-tech team members have an interest in visual design or data visualisation, so there's a strong product focus. Oh, and if you enjoyed Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow, you'd probably fit right in. (About half the team has read it and it ties in closely with our work).

Site: http://boardintelligence.co.uk

Email: Isaac.Lewis@boardintelligence.co.uk

_jgdhonFeb 5, 2019

* Factfulness and Thinking Fast And Slow. The latter helped me internalise that my thinking, like most humans, is biased. Even being aware of those biases doesn’t always help. We need to go above and beyond to overcome our biases. Factfulness goes into detail about what those biases are and how they lead to a distorted world view. Rather than taking the easy way out by blaming journalists/politicians/rich people, he turns the focus onto us and our biases and speaks about how to look at the world in an objective fact based manner.

* The Dictator’s Handbook. One simple axiom - leaders do what is necessary to stay in power. Using that idea they explain the basis of all political systems, whether autocracy or democracy or somewhere in between. I didn’t really understand politics before I read this. CGPGrey has a video where he summarises the book. [1]

* (Only for Indians) India After Gandhi. You can’t really understand your country if you don’t know it’s history. History stopped in 1947 according to our history books, and most people are blissfully unaware of what came after. They don’t know how close India came to losing democracy or how easily it could happen again. They don’t understand the dangers of promoting one language at the expense of others because they don’t know that it’s been tried before. Every Indian needs to know so we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past over and over.

[1] - https://youtu.be/rStL7niR7gs

sjg007onJan 4, 2020

Thinking Fast and Slow came out in 2011. Also there is recent work showing that some of its conclusions may be flawed due to failure to replicate.

Self help books are not all bad. The early ones around cognitive behavioral therapy have been proven to help in scientific studies. I would look to ones that have scientific basis. That being said the placebo effect is very powerful.

jpalomakionOct 10, 2013

Thinking Fast and Slow at least mentions many similar experiments and the results are often interesting, so it is probably worth reading if the topic is of interest (and it probably should be).

I have't looked at the actual research behind the topics they are covering, but at least there seems to be a good reference list in the book so it should be possible dig out the articles.



haltingproblemonSep 21, 2019

OP here. I recall a similar passage in Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. He was part of a committee to rewrite textbooks and everyone estimated it to be part of a normal distribution instead of a power law. He lamented how even trained psychologists were bad at estimating completion times in spite of being aware of the data.

I think this holds for most human endeavors that have intellectual property as the end result - software projects, books, doctoral thesis, etc.

Two questions -
1- I would really like to understand why?
2- I have always thought lean is the answer to the above in a startup context but really curious of hear of others.

yndoendoonMay 20, 2020

Libertarian paternalism. Where the default is set to be the most beneficial. Another example is you get a raise at work and instead of going into your pocket by default goes into your retirement. You still have the ability to change it. Nudge by Thaler and Sunstein talk about this and so does Daniel Kahneman in Thinking, Fast and Slow.

This mentality has actually helped other countries save more lives by default. While each person still retains the power to opt-out. And yes other countries have done this before the UK. US should do this too!

Super_JamboonFeb 12, 2012

According to 'Thinking Fast and Slow' which I'm currently reading expert predictors of performance are generally worse than even quite simple statistical models. This being due to all the flaws in human decision making - if it's a sunny day, if the player 'looks the part' if the scout happens to view them on a day when they're feeling lucky. It's a very good book, but it suggests that in all fields of prediction you should actually rely on combinations of statistical metrics over expert judgment.

Pretty hard to believe I accept.

jakub_gonFeb 19, 2016

A big part of Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking. Fast and Slow" is devoted to economic behavior and in general, people are not rational when it comes to money - in some cases risk averse, in other risk seeking. He explains a lot of studies on the topic. If you have some spare time, I recommend the book (though it's not an easy read, as it's very information-dense).

rickhanloniionDec 26, 2012

I'll second Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman for top book of 2012 and for top all time book like another commenter.

If you really want to expose the bias and structure of your consciousness, this the book to read. I would also pair this book with Incognito by David Eagleman (2012) to rehash some of the ideas of Kahneman and for a discussion of the implications of these ideas in morals and justice.

Also Connectome by Sebastian Seung (2012) gives a good outline of the structure of the brain, and an interesting discussion of how understanding that structure is a great scientific goal and some hypothetical implications of that understanding.

Really, I'd recommend reading anything to do with the emerging understanding of the brain because, without hyperbole, the better we understand the brain the better we understand the self.

dan00onSep 27, 2012

"Consider some studies that show noisy, hard-to-read text (as on a
poorly-printed copy) is better remembered by readers than clean
typography. Apparently, the effort of making out messy printing also
strengthens the recall."

In the book 'Thinking, Fast and Slow' studies are presented, that the
number of right answers increases if the question is harder to read.

The conclusion is, that if you need more effort and consciousness to
comprehend a question, than you are already in a mode of thinking which
makes it easier to reach the right answer.

justushamalaineonJuly 22, 2016

Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman

How I raised myself from failure to success in selling, Frank Bettger

Thinking in Systems: A Primer, Daniela Meadows

Most important thing is to get up and start doing stuff, understand how you personally f$$k things up and reap benifits of compound interest in personal development. I think these three bookshave a lot of information that is usable in any career or path one might choose.

bryanmgreenonOct 8, 2019

For me, some are:

[1] High Output Management

[2] Thinking Fast and Slow (not technically a business book but very applicable)

[3] Blue Ocean Strategy


[1] https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/324750.High_Output_Manag...

[2] https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11468377-thinking-fast-a...

[3] https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4898.Blue_Ocean_Strategy

PeterWhittakeronSep 5, 2013

Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman. Should be read by all who wonder how our minds work - and how much happens "behind the scenes", "under the covers".

Darwin's Dangerous Idea, by Daniel Dennett. Should be read by all curious to know the full implications of mechanistic evolution (hint: think about what came before life).

The Mating Mind, by Geoffrey Miller. Must-read for anyone in marketing, or anyone wondering why the other guy got laid and you didn't.

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, by Jared Diamond. Why are we rich and they poor? Why so few domesticated African animals? Why one big China and a many-state Europe?

The Laughter of Triumph: William Hone and the Fight for the Free Press, by Ben Wilson. Great read about an early 19th C. struggle against unjust laws used to gag journalism. Relevant in today's age of bloggers, etc.

bhntr3onApr 1, 2017

You're getting teased a bit but I think this is a very smart thing to do.

The automatic processes of our brain dominate the majority of our behavior. If you're a deep thinker who often ties up his attentive thread thinking through a tough technical problem or something, you need to prime your automatic process with some surprise that triggers the association.

I think Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow does a good job explaining this. But I also like the idea of the "elephant and the rider" from Jonathan Haidt. This quora post (https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-rider-and-the-elephant-met...) gives a nice summary but I highly recommend his book.

Bringing it back to TFA, I think the Japanese as a culture might have a better relationship to the frailty of human rationality. The enlightenment was a great period in Western history but it cemented a belief in the power of reason and the universality of truth.

The Japanese have a longer history of training the mind through repeated action, visualization and behavior. Western cultures just want to power through it with rationality. So, we don't point at stuff repetitively and repeat things out loud to ourselves even if it would save lives. Kind of a bummer.

I dig your upside down tomato can, man.

pramodbiligirionMay 7, 2013

>> It’s how the human mind is designed to operate: looking for connections when there’s not enough evidence to support a connection, jumping to conclusions

Psychologist and Nobel econ prize winner Daniel Kahneman has written about this in his book "Thinking, Fast and Slow" [1].
I am currently halfway through this book and it's been an insightful read so far.

[1] - http://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Fast-Slow-Daniel-Kahneman/dp/...

ohduranonFeb 26, 2021

I have a contrarian view about reading productively, which is: READ WHAT OTHERS AREN'T READING.

It's as if there is a similar process as the Efficient Market Hypothesis happening with books: the best-sellers define our shared reality, and apparently (at least for me), they aren't worth reading.

For example, think of Outliers, by Malcom Gladwell. Virtually everyone has heard of the 10'000 hour rule. That means that the first thing you have to do to be more productive in your reading is start by NOT reading Outliers: all its content is already common knowledge.

Which brings me to this post. No matter how many books the author is reading, he is simply reviewing what everyone else (Atomic Habits, Thinking Fast and Slow, Grit) is reading too. So there is little value in what he reads, because it's discounted by what "everyone" knows already.

What do you guys think about that? Am I too off course?

afarrellonMay 12, 2016

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Khaneman: It is not a book on leadership really, but on decision-making. It is backed by reproducible nobel-prize winning research and builds a ver clear mental model. My only quibble is that the author should call "system 1" "the intuitive mind" and "system 2" "the deliberative mind" for the sake of better affordance.

Difficult Conversations by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen: This is by the same group behind Getting to Yes. It presents a clear mental model for how to better predict the way your words will be perceived and how to avoid misperceiving what other people are trying to say.

The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni: The first part of this presents a clear model the prerequisites for a team to be effective. The Second part presents a model of how to get agreement on mission and strategy. If you prefer a more allegorical/narrative style, the author has several books that teach different pieces of this book.

Each of these is available on Audible, if you find it easier to listen while commuting.

harperleeonFeb 19, 2015

I'm currently reading "Thinking, fast and slow" by Daniel Kahneman himself and I couldn't recommend it enough.

One point he makes early in his book, though, is that when he talks about "System 1" and "System 2", it is merely a figure of speech, that he talks about two systems, two minds, precisely because of how we tend to relate to each one of them as an agent. But he wants to be clear that reality, as far as his research goes, is not "two systems". Or at least that's what I got from it!

mindcrimeonJune 5, 2015

Nominally, I'm "reading" 23 books that are in my Goodreads "currently reading" shelf. But of the ones that I'm really working on and will finish fairly soon:

1. Secret Societies - John Lawrence Reynolds

2. Black Wings of Cthulhu 3 - S.T. John (ed)

3. Unleash The Warrior Within - Richard Machowicz

4. Data Crush - Christopher Surdak

5. Thinking, Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman

6. The Glass Cage: Automation and Us - Nicholas Carr

7. Future Shock - Alvin Toffler

8. The Balanced Scorecard - Robert S. Kaplan

gbogonDec 13, 2013


- Jules Michelet, History of France (pg suggested somewhere to read books about history. I now fully agree, it is a way to get the best possible understanding of today's world. As much as we have to understand how a cell has grown from nothing to its current state to really understand what it is, we also have to understand how a country has been built in the long history to understand it's current issues)

- Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow (read it again).

tfinnigaonSep 23, 2014

I have a theory about why that is.

In the book "Thinking, Fast and Slow" there are a number of experiments described that show that human thought can roughly be separated into two systems, one of which is intuitive, fast, heuristic, and low-energy, and the other which is rational, analytical, uses more calories, and is only engaged when necessary.

We use the first system most of the time, and only use the second system when we really need to. They found that when people were given something to read in a smaller font, their responses to it were more rational.

This might be the same effect - if the second system is already engaged due to the difficulty of understanding the other language, the result is a more rational response.

It's a very interesting book, and well done. It's a bit long, but thorough. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thinking,_Fast_and_Slow

steveeq1onOct 17, 2017

> "First-conclusion bias". Huge problem with cops.

Also check out "availability bias" which Charlie mentions many times in his speeches. Because "x minority shot and killed by police" comes up so many times in the news, this image tends to be readily accesible in our brains when we here the word "cops", thus causing us to vastly overestimte it's probabiltiy of this event actually happening in real life. This causes us to believe the problem is far bigger than it actually is, probabilistically speaking: https://i.imgur.com/tOTcCRH.jpg . (Mind you, those stats are "white men", much less "white men that happen to be policemen") .

Dramatic/emotional information is somehow perceived to be a bigger threat than "real, actual statistcal risk", in other words.

Daniel Kahneman also covers this topic on his excellent "Thinking Fast and Slow": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thinking,_Fast_and_Slow#Availa... which I also recommend.

davidwonDec 27, 2011

Let's see... in no particular order:

* Thinking, Fast and Slow: http://amzn.to/sXQGSR - probably makes my list because I just finished it, and as he says "what you see is all there is" - we're biased towards things that come to mind easily. Actually, it is a pretty good book even looking through all the others I've read.

* 1491: http://amzn.to/uaR0yf - about the Americas prior to the arrival of "Cristoforo Colombo".

* Built to sell: http://amzn.to/ukmyNP - how to create a business that is something that you can sell because it can exist without you. Not quite so relevant to startups working on a product, but some good concepts nonetheless. A good summary is probably just as good as reading the book, as the core concepts are fairly simple.

* Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World: http://amzn.to/tVvltK the history of the world as seen through languages.

* The Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East: http://amzn.to/spQCF7 - a look at how the legal systems of 'the west' and the middle east differed and the results those systems led to.

And of course, if you haven't read this one, I think it's a great read:

Start Small, Stay Small: http://amzn.to/v2DHyx - a great guide full of practical advice on "startups for the rest of us".

What I haven't read:

Lean Startups by Eric Ries. Does it contain much practical advice? I get the impression it's a bit on the 'strategic' side without giving you concrete ideas about how to go about doing things.

The Steve Jobs biography. It looks to be so pervasive and widespread that I'm wondering if I can absorb most of the good parts from other people who have read it. I may get it anyway; we'll see.

FWIW, all links contain a referral code to help fuel my reading habit.

rdurbhaonJuly 15, 2020

Most interviews (in any field) are broken because they mostly reduce to gut feel of the interviewer. No matter how much we think our intuition is sanctimonious, it is not. It does not matter what your IQ is or how successful you are in the field, your intuition is useless (or lets say will be very biased). Intuition works in very few places with specific conditions (Like chess). Daniel Kahneman, Nobel laureate, writes about all this(based on his research) in his book "Thinking, fast and slow"

scytheonJuly 12, 2017

>When it comes to rating movies and shows, stars reflect the preferences that people want to have, rather than how people actually behave. Todd gave the example of users giving 5 stars to a documentary but just 3 stars to an Adam Sandler movie that they watched over and over again. “What you do versus what you say you like are different things,” said Todd."

There's a reasonable objection to this behavioral definition of "like", which is that it doesn't actually make people's lives better, it just fills them with more compulsive behavior. It's not necessarily "irrational" to wish you were more patient, or to want to ask Netflix to show you useful things rather than useless fluff. That you occasionally betray your stated goals does not mean you should be denied the right of self-definition.

In other words, what people say they like is more important, to me at least. See eg "Thinking Fast and Slow" by Kahneman.

jacques_chesteronNov 29, 2012

One thing he mentions in passing is that the Ivy League process is built on looking for "future leaders".

There's not really a test for such qualities. I mean, you can try, but it's very difficult to see how someone performs in trying circumstances until you put them there.

In Thinking, Fast and Slow (which I'm sure many of HNers have read), Kahneman gives an anecdote about his time working for the Israeli Defence Force. The IDF wanted a way to identify who should be put through officer training, and they turned to a team of psychologists to develop a testing program.

Kahneman and his colleagues came up with a series of scenario-based tests. Some problem would be posed to a group of soldiers ("move this log over the top of this wall"). The group would be observed and notes taken.

One thing that the psychologists watched for was spontaneous leadership. Who in the group took charge? Surely such a soldier was bound to command!

The problem is that, upon reviewing the performance of their selections, Kahneman and his colleagues found that their candidates did no better -- either in training or in the field -- than candidates chosen by other means. Simply seeing the "obvious" leadership qualities of a particular individual in a highly artificial situation is a basically useless predictor of actual outcomes.

It's satisfying noise.

QuizzonSep 18, 2012

As an experiment in human limits, great. As a sustainable and effective way of running your business, absolutely terrible. Keep in mind the following (assuming you are a normal human being and do not have special powers, like Jack Dorsey):
1. The human mind can only maintain sustained focus at the highest levels for a limited amount of time each day, which is why in a typical work day, performance drops significantly after 3PM.

2. When tired or exhausted, your mind will default to system 1 thinking (using Nobel winner Kahneman's description for fast, intuitive, emotional and automatic decision-making process because it requires less energy; from his book Thinking Fast, and Slow) which is normally bad for start-ups that require intense focus and deep insight.

Accept that the human mind works very well in matters requiring problem solving skills and creative deliberation for 4-5 hours, the other 4-5 hours leave for less intense duties (responding to routine email, basic accounting, staff meetings, exercise, playing with the kids, etc.). To push your mental focus so hard will render you a complete zombie by nighttime and your significant other will leave you, make no doubt about it, because it would be like talking to a wall that just nods and blinks. I know, been there, done that, both as the zombie and on the receiving end of a zombie.

Simply put, 16 hour work days will destroy your family and wreck havoc on your creative process. Although it may be great for those engaged in routine debugging that is almost automated and rythmic, I simply don't see this approach to work as useful for anybody in a position requiring problem solving or creative focus.

T3OU-736onJan 22, 2019

Seems like the fairly unambiguous instance of https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attribute_substitution.

Urban traffic congestion is a difficult, complex problem. So, instead of the nontrivial question posed by the proposition on the ballot of "Would this measure succeed in its stated goal, in the face of evidence that prior attempts have failed, and have the factor(s) which caused the prior failures been mitigated?" the simpler question that the mind solves is (and, given the results, answered in the positive) "I hate traffic. This measure claims it will help. Should I support it?"

Kahneman's "Thinking, Fast and Slow" is a damned good read on these sorts of things.

stephenboydonJan 7, 2016

The author's observation that the last 2% of a transaction has a bigger impact on the customer's perception is consistent with the peak-end rule, which is a pyschological heuristic predicting a person's overall impression of an experience based on its most intense and last moments. Daniel Kahneman (the guy who wrote Thinking, Fast and Slow) and some others have done good research on it.


seycombionFeb 15, 2017


>> We computed the R-Index for studies cited in Chapter 4 of Kahneman’s book “Thinking Fast and Slow.” This chapter focuses on priming studies.
The results are eye-opening and jaw-dropping. The chapter cites 12 articles and 11 of the 12 articles have an R-Index below 50. This result confirms Kahneman’s prediction that priming research is a train wreck and readers of his book “Thinking Fast and Slow” should not consider the presented studies as scientific evidence that subtle cues in their environment can have strong effects on their behavior outside their awareness.

evilbitonMay 17, 2012

Pedantic nonsense. What exactly is the difference between "he's stupid" and "he's acting stupid"? The only one I can spot is the latter avoids labeling the person while still condemning them for the act. PC nonsense without substance, IMNSHO.

However, he does touch on something Dan Kahneman in his
'Thinking, Fast and Slow' talks about: most people stop thinking at first intuitive answer (aka System 1) and don't bother engaging in the tiring deep thought (aka System 2).

facepalmonFeb 22, 2017

You working on statistical models is a scary thought, given that you seemed unable to understand my criticism of my primitive analysis of lofeatgoogle.

I read a book in German (specifically on how to lie with statistics), don't know which ones to recommend in English. There is the obvious one with the name "how to lie with statistics", but it is very old. Otoh, available for free (but I haven't read it).

Feynman, too, don't forget about Feynman. http://www.ar-tiste.com/feynman-on-honesty.html

Thinking, Fast and Slow was a lot about bias, but not sure if it really gets the point across effectively.

Seeing how you interpret my comments, maybe starting with statistics is actually backwards. Perhaps start with language and communication first? Sorry if my comment sounds mean, but it really seems a bit crazy how you try to bend my comments into something outrageous.

bkoonOct 10, 2018

Much of behavioral economics is based on a very shaky foundation of psychology.

For instance, the priming experiments cannot be reproduced.

> This result confirms Kahneman’s prediction that priming research is a train wreck and readers of his book “Thinking Fast and Slow” should not consider the presented studies as scientific evidence that subtle cues in their environment can have strong effects on their behavior outside their awareness.


jfageronJan 15, 2012

You should read Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow, which says basically the same thing in thorough detail. The fact that you know of some number of difficult things that you've seen and considered says very little about whether there's a cognitive bias against doing so in general - how can you even start to quantify all the things that you may have missed?

TyrannosaursonMar 13, 2014

That's interesting. I have Thinking Fast and Slow as an audiobook I've not yet got round to listening to.

Does he talk about other theories? I wonder if there's also an element of what the person has tied up in that skill and what the consequences of being bad at it are?

Certainly it seems unlikely that anyone would want to admit to being bad at their job (kind of tantamount to admitting to be a fraud), or at something which, as with driving, can be actively dangerous if you're bad at it.

therealdrag0onAug 27, 2019

I love that quote, but in my experience there are diminishing returns.

I peaked (according to Goodreads) in 2012 when I read 75 books (including many large tomes! Godel Escher Bach, Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Catch-22, Hyperion, Brothers Karamazov, Thinking Fast and Slow). But after all that, I felt like a hollow/vain effort. I felt like I spent TOO much time in books, time not investing in relationships or skills.

Now I read ~25 a year, and that seems like a sweet spot (though I still feel like I spend too much time on reddit/HN heh).

Anyways the OP article resonated with me. I've been taking the bus for the first time in my life this year and am wanting to start writing while on it.

EthanHeilmanonDec 13, 2015

Spaced repetition is good for memory[0]. When I read on a subject I will usually read several books in the same area spread out over 6-8 months to reinforce those memories. I felt the repetition in 'Thinking Fast and Slow' helped me soak up and retain the ideas much better, although I've probably forgotten much of that book by now.

I read this policy paper on nuclear weapons that I found in the trash near my house. It consisted of five essays, each essay critiquing the prior essays. The repetition combined with argumentation had a powerful effect and forced me to engage in thinking about the issue under discussion. I wish more books would do that. It was around 80 pages which was a perfect length.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spacing_effect

FreedomToCreateonJune 25, 2016

We are gonna end up in the future that Wall-E has predicted. Machines do everything and humans are fat slugs. Our minds are lazy and want to do the least amount of work. If given the option, we will do the least amount and occupy ourselves in entertainment. Now is that living? Thats up to you to decide. A good book to read on experiments done to understand human behavior is Daniel Kahnemans Thinking Fast and Slow.

gbogonAug 24, 2013

You can have a look in a book titled Thinking Fast and Slow. It is strongly backed by multiple experiences. Profit: it is ok to make profit, but where ifs the limit? Would you agree that companies should not take advantage of children weaknesses to force sell them useless thing (a lot do)? Or mentally deficient ones? I wouldn't, because somehow we are not in a jungle. And the point is that humans are not grown ups in front of rare events. Everyone fears an earthquake during the week following an earthquake, and completely forget about it the next month.

Moreover the fact that insurance are highly regulated just makes my point. We are defenseless and the law puts some limits because a scam is too easy to build.

BrianOnHNonFeb 24, 2021

> Is a neural network really different from a very large cascade of nonlinear filter elements?

It's different in theory, but not by much practically. Reverse engineering the former is a fool's errand, but so would be a sufficiently complex version of the latter.

In terms of Kahneman's "Thinking Fast and Slow," ML, at least in its current stage, is like the fast thinking system. It's essential but is exponentially more valuable when combined with the slow system, which is still elusive in AI practice.

Dn_AbonJan 6, 2013

I don't know if you have read Thinking Fast and Slow but your observations are in strong agreement with research.

From what I have read (mostly Kahneman) most interviews as performed are useless and suffer from the illusion of validity. Instead, structured interviews and scoring that are the same for all candidates are strongly recommended. Which is, draw up a short list ~= 6 independent factors which from experience are reflective of the job and whose answers you can easily judge objectively. For each factor come up with a small number of questions with a score, say from 1 - 5 and then simply add up the scores. No fancy weighting required - research shows that regression does not add much to this simple model. To avoid the "halo effect" do not jump question categories. This will vastly improve upon the more common unstructured interview and though still far from perfect you will be hard pressed to improve on that short of an IQ or equivalent test.

Interestingly, and reminiscent to bagging in machine learning, unstructured interviews can be brought nearly up to par by averaging multiple independently scoring interviewer opinions.

paulsutteronSep 26, 2015

> given that at least some of those arguments are wrong and all seemed practically proven, I am obviously just gullible

Not gullible, he just needs to read Kahneman's "Thinking Fast and Slow".

The intuitive mind is unable to distinguish between consistency and truth. That is, a consistent story will always seem "proven" to the intuitive mind.

"Seeming practically proven" means little. You need to use the more logical part of your mind to crosscheck it.

roguecoderonDec 5, 2011

... and, in the method of disbelief they choose to employ, they provide the very evidence they are demanding.

Cognitive dissonance is a powerful thing, and leads to fantastic piles of irony. Humans are all irrational; anyone who claims to be rational is, in fact, irrationally rejecting the overwhelming preponderance of evidence.

The best we can do is be aware of our irrationality and attempt to compensate with tools like checklists, blind resume screening, empirical data, and awareness of biases to inform cultural and personal behavioral modifications to minimize the harm that irrationality can do to our field, our businesses and people around us.

For example, any time a human has a defensive reaction to something and lashes out with an attempt to dismiss or discredit the speaker rather than the argument it is probably because they interpreted the statement as a personal attack on their identity. That is, if someone says "bicyclists who run red lights endanger their own lives and the lives of people around them" the people who respond angrily probably went through this unconscious thought process:
"Endangering lives is bad! People who do so are bad people!"
"I run red lights on my bike, so the speaker is accusing me of being a bad person!"
"Well, they probably aren't even a bicyclist/don't know my specific commute/don't understand how hard it is to cycle to work every day, so what would they know?"
"Whew, I'm not a bad person after all!"

And then they will probably feel superior because they rejected a poorly supported argument, or an insufficiently supported argument, no matter how much evidence is presented. What should have been evidence against their behavior instead strengthened their commitment to it. I recommend the recent book "Thinking, Fast and Slow" for a more complete explanation of this process and the relevant citations.

The practical implication of this is that whenever one's first reaction is defensive dismissal of someone's report of their personal, first-person experience of the world, it isn't because they are wrong: it is because their experience being true threatens one's own self-image. That they may be wrong or purposefully lying are merely post-hock justifications for an initial emotional response.

codehotteronMay 7, 2012

In the book "Thinking fast and slow" by Daniel Kahneman, it is claimed that there is a growing body of evidence that we really have two brain systems. A fast one, which uses heuristics to quickly approximate the answer, and a slow one, capable of deliberate and rational thought. He argues that the fast brain system is really responsible for a lot of our cognitive biases.

For example, our fast brain does not really understand probability. It only knows three categories: either something is impossible, it is possible, or it is a certainty. A lot of human behaviour with regards to probability can be explained by this simple assumption.

Why do people buy lottery tickets? For their intuition, it moves an impossibility into a possibility. The fast brain system that fuels their intuition does not care what the actual probability is and does not understand anyway.

mindcrimeonAug 6, 2015

I do have my doubts that plain neural networks will ever be able to achieve conceptual understanding.

I have an affinity for classical, rational AI in that you can correct it and it will take that correction and instantly apply it to is knowledge base.

I don't claim this to be any amazing insight, but I strongly suspect that the human brain works on some combination of both probabilistic methods and something like the symbolic logic of GOFAI. How many "systems" there are, and how they interact, is an open question, but I really do think there's "some there, there".

Which reminds me, I need to get back to reading "Thinking, Fast and Slow", which I started a while back and got distracted away from.

tmalyonJuly 16, 2020

I am reminded of this topic of availability cascade in Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow:

"An availability cascade is a self-sustaining chain of events, which may start from media reports of a relatively minor event and lead up to public panic and large-scale government action. On some occasions, a media story about a risk catches the attention of a segment of the public, which becomes aroused and worried. This emotional reaction becomes a story in itself, prompting additional coverage in the media, which in turn produces greater concern and involvement. The cycle is sometimes sped along deliberately by 'availability entrepreneurs,' individuals or organizations who work to ensure a continuous flow of worrying news. The danger is increasingly exaggerated as the media compete for attention-grabbing headlines."

emsyonJune 5, 2020

In the book “Thinking fast and Slow” the Baseball example is given for a learned intuition. The ball is too fast for batters to react so they learn to anticipate the trajectory of the ball from the way the pitcher throws. When they let professionals players play against a female softball player with lower throwing speed their intuition was off and they missed the ball more often than against a male professional player.

prof_hobartonJuly 2, 2015

I'm in the middle of reading Thinking, Fast And Slow and at least some of the research that he talks about in there suggests that this isn't always how the brain actually works. By forcing people to concentrate on one thing, it can (at least in some circumstances) increase how much they concentrate on other things.

The example he used was the sort of problem where there's a obvious, but wrong, answer to a problem (e.g. "If a bat and ball cost £1.10, and the bat is £1 more than the ball, how much does the ball cost", to which a lot of people instinctively answer 10p - using what he refers to as "System 1 thinking"). These sorts of question were presented to two groups of people, one with the questions clearly printed and one with the questions badly printed in very light colours, requiring the readers to concentrate to be able to even read the questions.

The surprising result was that people in the latter group did significantly better on average than those in the former, suggesting that because they are forced to start using the more conscious, and more conscientious, "System 2 thinking" to be able to read the questions, they are primed to use that sort of thinking on actually answering the question.

This isn't always true though - if you're already concentrating heavily on something, then introducing another problem that requires a lot of concentration, you will stop concentrating on the first issue.

So, introducing something that forces your brain into a low-level System 2 mindset (such as slightly wonky offices) might be a good way of reducing the number of "obvious but wrong" decisions being made, but wouldn't be a good way of improving problem solving for tasks where people are already concentrating on the problem.

johnsmith4739onJan 5, 2021

"several studies have shown that individuals demonstrate a preference for choice, or the availability of multiple options, over and above utilitarian value." -> yes, it is called the need for orientation/control and "utilitarian value" has nothing to do with it -> Index Funds vs. Actively-Managed Funds -> people prefer the latter even if the returns are consistently lower. [1]

"Yet we lack a decision-making framework that integrates preference for choice with traditional utility maximisation in free choice behaviour." -> utility maximisation "has charm for economists, but it rests on the shaky foundation of an implausible and untestable assumption" - Daniel Kahneman [2] -> TL;DR the author of "Thinking Fast and Slow" proves it false

"We found that participants were biased towards states that kept their options open, even when both states were balanced in the total number of goal locations. This bias was evident not only when both contexts were equally valuable but throughout all value conditions..." AND "Participants were not informed of the precise values ..." -> seeing the utilitarian variable being forced upon conclusions is disheartening

[1] https://www.thebalance.com/index-funds-vs-actively-managed-f...
[2] https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=870494

practicingdevonAug 16, 2016

This is roughly the full Dreyfus model:

(1) Novice... does not understand anything but basic knowledge in the abstract sense

(2) Competent... knows how to apply knowledge to solve concrete problems

(3) Proficient... sees how particular solutions fit into the context of different problems (i.e. what tools to use, when, and why)

(4) Expert... picks the right tool for the job without having to do careful analysis... works from intuition by pattern matching against fundamental concepts combined with past experiences.

(5) Master... picks the right tool for the job without even being consciously aware of the fact that they're "doing work" at all.

It's important to remember that all of these levels apply within specific contexts... you can be master one thing while being a novice at many other things.

But each step along the path is a gate of sorts: in that you can't really understand what it's like to be an expert in anything until you're an expert in at least one thing, and building expertise is easier when you have done it at least once.

But a big problem (which we're mentally hard wired to be biased about) is evaluating our own skills, as well as the scope of experience of others.

This is why someone with local expertise often thinks they can speak on topics outside of their actual expertise, and why people tend to believe them when they do.

"Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman is the best book I know on that topic. Totally worth reading.

yusufponDec 26, 2017

Just started going down this rabbit hole myself. I've noticed to really grasp and develop your own mental models you deeply have to understand a few things first:

1. Human biases: Every mental model is built upon some human bias.

2. How incentives work: Understanding the motivation behind why people do what they do.

3. Mental thought construction: Understanding how the brain gathers, processes and stores information.

4. Biology: How we've evolved (and haven't) from stone age times and how that still influences us today.

This is by no means exhaustive but are just some of the topics I've found most useful. That said, here are the best resources I've found:

- The Art Of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli: Taught me about human biases. Reads like a directory of most biases.

- Influence by Robert Cialdini: Taught me about incentives and a whole lot more.

- Metaphors We Live By by George Lakoff: Taught me about mental thought construction.

- Poor Charlie's Almanack by Charles Munger: Taught me about many things but most importantly good decision making.

- Sapiens by Yuval Harari and his course https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLE-kxvSEhkzDEmLQx3RE0...: Taught me about how we've evolved as humans and how we haven't.

- Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman: Taught me more about human biases.

- Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely: Taught me more about how and why we make decisions and what good decisions are.

The thing I've really started to notice is it's not enough to know or read about mental models, you have to ruthlessly apply them. This is tough when even knowing about your biases doesn't stop you from still being affected by them.

rickhanloniionFeb 15, 2014

You make a valuable distinction; Kahneman did not win the Nobel for psychology, and in fact there is no such thing.

But to call psychology a pseudoscience confuses either the definition of science or of psychology. In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman spends the majority of each chapter outlining scientific studies in detail, many that he personally carried out, making the text a 500 page atlas of counter-examples.

bizzleDawgonSep 2, 2016

I guess someone has to be the first to say "Thinking Fast and Slow"[1] by Daniel Kahneman. It's certainly a very useful book (even for it's flaws) for it's detail on cognitive phycology and human biases. It certainly improved my personal and professional life.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thinking,_Fast_and_Slow

bicknergsengonMar 7, 2012

The introduction to <i>Thinking, Fast and Slow</i> by Daniel Khaneman immediately made me think of security theater. He starts by discussing how humans are generally rational, but intense emotions of fear, anger, etc. often cause us to act completely irrationally. While I imagine the book goes on to describe how the individual can stop emotion from perverting what should be a rational judgement, I wonder what defense we have as a society against making bad, emotional decisions on things that shouldn't involve emotions. I understand reactionary emotional decisions and opinions tending to snowball behind them, but why does it take so long, if at all, for rationality to take over?

vishnuguptaonMay 19, 2014

And as an addendum, I highly recommend "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman. A huge take away for me from that book was that humans are very bad at predicting far into the future, especially when it comes to phenomenon that involve multiple feedback loops.

Finance is a prime example of such a phenomenon where changes in policy, regulation, productivity and a host of other factors that influence financial markets, have their impact only several years down the road. Human mind is such that it impulsively reacts only to recent memory and uses it to extrapolate it to future.

It is a fascinating read, one that got me hooked into the subject matter of human psychology and behavioral economics.

ricardoz17onAug 27, 2013

When reading "Thinking, Fast and Slow" one of the things that struck me was that if you use the reference point for gains and losses as the point you end up at then you would have a pretty good model. For example if you have a hundred and lose 20 your loss is 20/80 but if you win 20 your gain is 20/120 [1]. The formulas is

I set up a python fiddle to mess about with this: http://pythonfiddle.com/st-petersburgh-paradox

One of the interesting things I found was that there is a power law for how much you would be willing to play the game. There are two ways to run the figures.

One is to never update your worth which produces (1,2.31)(2,5.80)(3,9.38)(4,12.78)(5,16.10)(6,19.43) - where (1,2.31) is an original worth of 10^1 and an expected value of 2.31.

The second is to update your worth after each winning bet: (1,1.94)(2,5.00)(3,8.48)(4,11.80)(5,15.11)(6,18.43)

In both instances a 10x increase in worth increase the expected value about 3.3-3.5. This may explain after you factor in the enjoyment of playing that it is rational for poorer people to play the lottery.

[1] One thing I didn't like about Prospect Theory is the steep curve for a loss this does not explain why people are so ready to buy insurance. If you use the above model if you could lose 90% of your value then -90/(-90+100) gives -9 and if you have to pay 1% then -1/(-1+100) gives -1/99 so you would do that for a 1/891 chance

afandianonFeb 5, 2019

"Difficult Conversations: How to discuss what matters most". I bought this on the strength of an HN suggestion.

It's like Design Patterns for human conversations: the result of studying how people interact, common patterns that work, and how things break down. Really crystallised a lot of insights I'd perceived but never thought about systematically. I highly recommend it.

Word of warning - there are a few books with this title. Look for the one by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen.

Also Thinking Fast and Slow, recommended elsewhere in this thread.

loumfonFeb 17, 2015

There is a better summary of the studies in "Thinking, Fast and Slow"

From what I remember, the claim is that 10,000 hours of deliberate practice work best when:

1. You get immediate feedback on success and failure

2. The thing you are trying to master has a skill set that can be improved, and that improving that skill is sufficient.

That #2 is tricky -- a counter example is stock picking. We have no evidence that there is a skill that can be learned that will make you better at picking stocks, so 10,000 hours of deliberate practice, even with immediate feedback, won't help.

I think that Dan is following a reasonable deliberate practice plan with experts and that he does get fast feedback. What we don't know is if Golf is something that is primarily/mostly/all skill based. For example, what if there was a physical body type that made you better and Dan didn't have it -- then 10,000 hours might not help.

Also, the point of the 10,000 hours is to train your intuitive mind (System 1, the fast thinker) to be as correct as your deliberate mind would be (System 2, the slow thinker) if you had time and attention. This whole thing is much better for thinking-based activities, like say, programming. I don't remember if the studies looked at physical activities and "muscle-memory".

Caveat: this is all from memory -- read "Thinking, Fast and Slow" if you have interest in this.

liquidcoolonFeb 6, 2019

"Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" by Robert Cialdini

This explains so much of human behavior, but I hesitate to recommend it to people because it is so easily weaponized. To borrow from Harry Potter, it's the closest thing I've seen to a book of charm spells, but was written as a defense against the dark arts. Better everyone read it rather than just the marketers.

What I really love about this book is how much of politics it has explained for me, including the downfall of the USSR and the American civil rights movements, but also newer events like Schwarzenegger's poltiical career.

If you like this, I'd also recommend:

"Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman
"Predictably Irrational" by Dan Ariely
"The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg

All are in a similar vein. For more focused book on human behavior, I recommend first time team leads/managers read:

"Switch" by Dan and Chip Heath

A solid guide to changing organizational behavior.

dansoonOct 12, 2012

When I first saw the OP title, I immediately thought Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking Fast and Slow" in which he describes the "pre-mortem" process, in which doubt and dissent are rewarded, rather than seen as joy-kills:

>> Klein’s proposal, which he calls the “premortem,” is simple: When the organization has almost come to an important decision but hasn’t committed itself, it should gather a group of people knowledgeable about the decision to listen to a brief speech: “Imagine that we are a year into the future. We implemented the plan as it now exists. The outcome has been a disaster. Please take 5 to 10 minutes to write a brief history of that disaster.”
As a team converges on a decision, public doubts about the wisdom of the planned move are gradually suppressed and eventually come to be treated as evidence of flawed loyalty. The suppression of doubt contributes to overconfidence in a group where only supporters of the decision have a voice. The main virtue of the premortem is that it legitimizes doubts.
Furthermore, it encourages even supporters of the decision to search for possible threats not considered earlier. The premortem isn’t a panacea and doesn’t provide complete protection against nasty surprises, but it goes some way toward reducing the damage of plans that are subject to the biases of uncritical optimism.

jgammanonNov 4, 2014

i read this as a break from writing a functional spec. And i've already read Thinking Fast and Slow. And I know that I'm going to be wrong. And I know that no matter what i say to the client, they will say 'OK' and then wonder why i missed the estimate. And i also know that this is what normal looks like and when i'm in the middle of it and it seems as though it's a spaghetti diagram of dependencies, it will work itself out so long as i keep chipping away at it. this is a strange profession - i wouldn't build a bridge like this...

JormundironApr 21, 2014

This isn't exactly what the statement means. I highly recommend you read Thinking Fast and Slow, it gives an excellent analysis on this topic.

The statement "human beings aren't rational" doesn't mean "human beings are stupid", but rather we're really terrible at statistical analysis, and are very susceptible to manipulation.

The science leading up to the statement "human beings are not rational" was actually used to explain why classical economic theory didn't accurately predict human behavior in (close to) free markets.

Although some people may use this deduction to make laws about protecting people from their stupid selves, really this conclusion leads to protecting people against dishonest behavior, or subtle manipulation. Humans can only make rational decisions when the information is comprehensive, and presented in an non-influential form.

maus42onApr 10, 2017

10 pages a week might be fine and well in a mathematics course and related fields, as it's a field famously characterized by it's use of a concise notation. You can state lots of things in a 10 pages. You can spend several hours working with a proof that you can fit on one page. The softcover edit of Rudin's Real and complex analysis is a small book of 400 pages, and and is supposed to a full-year course.

What about a less-mathematical course, say, history or philosophy? Well, lots of depends how dense and difficult the text is, and how many courses the student is assumed to be taking the same time.

But on the other hand, looking the bare page count, that's not much higher than the reading assignments we had when I was in high school (Finland, 00s), and there I was absolutely bored with the slow pace and had enough free time to read approx. 1 - 1.5 full-length / short-ish novels in a week. (edit. in retrospect, this feels like an overestimate, but I also read the Potters in less than 48 hours / one weekend when they were published, so maybe not.) Because the article mentions "professors", this is supposed to be about university level students: the selected few who actually are academic inclined and moreover, have chosen their field of study out of their free will. I have habit of reading books on my daily commute train trip, most recently Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow: I average around 4-5 pages per 20-30 minute trip. I'm mediocre student in internationally mediocre university, so I assume my mental faculties are not exceptionally high.

If there's is a problem of students simply not being able to find enough time to study (because they are working 2 jobs), this is an external problem which is not solved by changing curriculum but introducing financial support. If the problem is that students are not willing to find time to study preferring other activities, this is a problem solved by having different students.

MoosePlisskenonFeb 9, 2013

The book "Thinking, Fast and Slow" has a great chapter on human predictions versus those made by forumlas. The superiority of simple forumlas was being demonstrated way back in the 50s (see "Clinical Versus Statistical Prediction: A Theoretical Analysis And A Review Of The Evidence"). Since then the evidence for statistical rather than intuitive prediction has only become stronger.

From "Thinking, Fast and Slow":

"The number of studies reporting comparisons of clinical and statistical predictions has increased to roughly two hundred, but the score in the contest between algorithms and humans has not changed. About 60% of the studies have shown significantly better accuracy for the algorithms. The other comparisons scored a draw in accuracy, but a tie is tantamount to a win for the statistical rules, which are normally much less expensive to use than expert judgment. No exception has been convincingly documented."

Also interesting:

"Several studies have shown that human decision makers are inferior to a prediction formula even when they are given the score suggested by the formula! They feel that they can overrule the formula because they have additional information about the case, but they are wrong more often than not."

petr_tikonAug 7, 2016

I give books to people I work with and the 3 books that people will have heard of are:

Thinking fast and slow by Danny K

Antifragile by Nassim Taleb

Algorithms To Live By by Brian Christian & Tom Griffiths

I thought about giving fictional books to people, but it seems to personal a present for a work acquaintance

snarf21onDec 30, 2016

You may or may not be a bad developer. But lines of code has nothing to with being a good developer or providing value or solving problems. If your employer thinks all developers are equal and that they are just cogs in a machine, then that is not going to be a good place to work regardless of how fast you are.

And you shouldn't beat yourself up about bad estimates. Everyone sucks at estimating. (Read "Thinking Fast and Slow") Which makes sense since we are estimating how long it will take us to make something we've never made before. Everything breaks down into day or week or weeks or month or.... You could also take 4 weeks to fully define every requirement and create tests for validation for a task that would have taken you two weeks.

You are a bad developer if you keep making the same mistakes or if you don't spend anytime learning new concepts/languages/processes/etc. You are a bad developer if you approach your job as doing exactly what you're told and not caring or thinking about how your contribution is part of the bigger project.

lomnakkusonFeb 21, 2015

There's a lot of interesting research on "judging character". I particularly recall reading in "Thinking, Fast and Slow" (Kahneman) that subjective judgement was consistently worse than even relatively arbitrary objective judgements. I believe this study was conducted in army recruitment and so obviously may not be universal. Very thought-provoking notetheless.

EDIT: ... that's not to cast any aspersions on any particular people involved here, I'm just trying to make a general point that "intuition" or "judgment" may not actually be as good as we think they are.

yummyfajitasonJuly 14, 2014

"How to spot the fake answers put there to fool you" == "how to see when an answer isn't even in the ballpark". That's a useful skill. That "context clues" thing suggests teaching students how to solve the problem in front of them, not the easy problem their mind wants to substitute for it [1].

From what this guy describes, "test prep" sounds like "educating students".

I agree that grading of essays is a disaster. It's not specific to standardized tests, however - that's how all my essays were graded from grade 1 all the way to college.

Another way to game the test is on the test giver's side - they get to define what the pass/fail thresholds are.

This is why tests are standardized, not left up to the schools or teachers.

[1] A hard problem: "What is the optimal incarceration time to dissuade people from pedophilia." An easy problem: "How angry do pedophiles make me feel?" When most people hear the first question, which is hard, their mind substitutes the second much easier question for it. See Kahneman's book "Thinking Fast and Slow" for more on this. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0374533555/ref=as_li_tl?ie=...

yellowstuffonFeb 24, 2015

This is interesting, but this seems like a pretty minor thread in Kahneman and Tversky's body of research. The review highlights a number of experiments that show how actual human reasoning differs from maximizing utility. The critique of Bayesian analysis isn't mentioned in the article, and I don't recall it being in the book.

If you have any interest in how people make decisions then "Thinking, Fast and Slow" is worth reading.

danielhooperonMar 29, 2016

This isn't super related to the article, but it reminds me of a chapter in Daniel Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow on a similar subject that I wanted to share.

In this chapter, Kahneman recalls a study performed by Paul Meehl, who discovered that statistical algorithms trumped expert intuitions roughly 60% of the time, with the other 40% of cases resulting in draws. These analysis were performed across a variety of different fields including "violations of parole, success in pilot training, and criminal recidivism."

Meehl suggests that experts form inaccurate predictions due to their overconfidence and unnecessarily complex analyzation. Another possible reason is that humans are generally inconsistent when summarizing complex information. An example being "radiologists who evaluate X-rays as normal or abnormal contradict themselves 20% of the time when they see the same picture on separate occasions."

RyanMcGrealonJuly 6, 2012

Bloomberg headline writers love to try and assign causality to the meanderings of stock prices. Daniel Kahneman's recent book Thinking, Fast And Slow recounts a story from Nassim Taleb's book The Black Swan that encapsulates the tendency to find causality:

> A story in Nassim Taleb’s The Black Swan illustrates this automatic search for causality. He reports that bond prices initially rose on the day of Saddam Hussein’s capture in his hiding place in Iraq. Investors were apparently seeking safer assets that morning, and the Bloomberg News service flashed this headline: U.S. TREASURIES RISE; HUSSEIN CAPTURE MAY NOT CURB TERRORISM. Half an hour later, bond prices fell back and the revised headline read: U.S. TREASURIES FALL; HUSSEIN CAPTURE BOOSTS ALLURE OF RISKY ASSETS. Obviously, Hussein’s capture was the major event of the day, and because of the way the automatic search for causes shapes our thinking, that event was destined to be the explanation of whatever happened in the market on that day. The two headlines look superficially like explanations of what happened in the market, but a statement that can explain two contradictory outcomes explains nothing at all. In fact, all the headlines do is satisfy our need for coherence: a large event is supposed to have consequences, and consequences need causes to explain them.

shawn-furyanonApr 15, 2015

Disclaimer: read the note at the end.

> But our ability to recognize and acknowledge wrongs is not a limited resource.

I just happen to be re-reading Daniel Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow at the moment, so this is very fresh on my mind. In fact, this does seem to be a limited resource, and the bias that overwhelming the resource creates is called the availability bias. Essentially, in cases where the media covers matters of lesser significance while ignoring matters of greater significance predictably leads people to weight the more heavily covered issue more highly despite its relative unimportance.

I don't know about the specific claim by the gp, but in general, I think it's socially useful to point out situations where a less covered related issue is not getting the appropriate amount of attention relative to a particular sensationalized issue in question.

Note: I'm interpreting 'recognize and acknowledge wrongs' as our ability to concert attention and restorative actions toward addressing issues, because this is where the rubber meets the road in addressing wrongs. So I'm responding more to a projection of wpietri's comment that I think is a bit more toward the consequential rather than a strict reading of her/his comment. This is clearly responding to a somewhat different argument than the one wpietri is making, so it shouldn't be construed as an argument against her/his statement so much as an argument inspired by her/his statement.

p0nceonMay 29, 2019


This is only one of these "must-read book list", what you can do is search several of them and see which ones are quoted by almost everyone!

About "everything" I would rate the following books very highly, for their sheer usefulness:

- Thinking Fast and Slow (really do the exercises!)

- then Neuroleadership which describes the purpose of brain structures, it's somehow wider than kahneman

- A Mind for Numbers (include very useful data points for knowledge workers)

- Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste

- Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism

About programming I would rate the following books highly, but at the same time it seems a bit fruitless to me to read about programming, rather than spending more time reading about psychology or sociology:

- the Economics of Software Quality

- Peopleware

- Pragmatic programmer

- Mythical Man month

^you'll see that these books are hardly kept secret, it's just that people quote them but don't actually read them, or so it seems.

YadionFeb 13, 2015

I would buy and look into the following books:

# HTTP: The Definitive Guide - O'Reilly Media

# Algorithms by Sedgewick

# Introduction to Algorithms by Cormen.

Check out some Machine Learning books:

# Pattern Recognition and Machine Learning

# Computer Networks (5th Edition)

I would look at the following book if you wanted more Q&A and interview questions:

# Cracking the Coding Interview: 150 Programming Questions ...

Tutorial memberships:

# I would buy a Tuts+ account, they have been very slow in releasing new content (too bad), however they have lots of great Web Development stuff.

I would read some other non-technical books:

# Hackers & Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age by Paul Graham

# The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

# The Innovator's Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change The Way You Do Business by Clayton M. Christenen,

# Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

# How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

If you wanted to understand some Cloud stuff, look into the Whitepapers from Amazon Web Services:

# https://aws.amazon.com/whitepapers/

2sk21onNov 18, 2016

Exactly the same here. It's 4:16am right now and I just fixed a problem in my code that seemed baffling last night. I used to try and push myself to finish things at night but have come to realize that most of the real thinking happens in the unconscious. Reading Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking Fast and Slow" really changed my view of the power of the unconscious.

jfno67onJuly 31, 2012

This subject was presented in a book I read recently, along with many interesting aspect of how our mind works. The book is definitely worth reading, it was "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman.

I wonder if it can explain the fact that I don't fall or bump into obstacles when I walk and read at the same time...

emmanueloga_onFeb 25, 2015

"Thinking, Fast and Slow is a best-selling 2011 book by Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics winner Daniel Kahneman [...]. The book's central thesis is a dichotomy between two modes of thought: "System 1" is fast, instinctive and emotional; "System 2" is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. The book delineates cognitive biases associated with each type of thinking, starting with Kahneman's own research on loss aversion. From framing choices to substitution, the book highlights several decades of academic research to suggest that people place too much confidence in human judgment."


mrxdonMay 16, 2017

This explains why Kahneman's book "Thinking, Fast and Slow" was such a hit. The easiest way to write a bestselling book is to tell people what they've heard a hundred times before.

It does call into question the feasibility of the book's objective of correcting human biases and cognitive errors. We've been trying to do that for 2500 years.

bambaxonSep 10, 2013

Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking, Fast and Slow" doesn't get the mention it deserves; it's alluded to, together with an interview of the author, and then back to "Blink".

But if you're interested in these subjects, Kahneman is a much better read than Gladwell, if only because he did most of the research himself (and got a Nobel for his efforts).

One takeaway is that so-called "System 1", the intuitive, immediate and "blinking" operating mode of our brain is usually super-effective, but takes shortcuts that can can result in flawed conclusions. Those shortcuts are consistent and can be highlighted by research.

"System 2" is the slow, rational operating mode where we analyze and weight all available evidence; System 2 is expensive to operate and takes a long time to produce results, so for most tasks it usually doesn't even start.

One example from the book that struck me is the famous observation that 90% of people think of themselves as "above average" in driving ability. This is usually quoted to show that people think highly of themselves.

But when asked a different question, such as, for example, "do you think you're above average or below average in your ability to initiate a conversation with a complete stranger", a great majority of people evaluate themselves as "below average".

The actual explanation has nothing to do with self-esteem; it's just a "System 1 shortcut". Answering the question of how one's ability relates to the "average" performance is extremely difficult (for a start, it would imply measuring said average). So what System 1 does, it substitutes a simple question to the difficult one.

System 1 doesn't even attempt to answer the initial question; it changes the question to "am I good or bad at this task". Most people think they are okay drivers, and most people think they're not good at starting a conversation with a complete stranger, hence the answers.

The relation to the average that was part of the original question has disappeared.

The problem is that the substitution is silent and unconscious, and that we still think we're answering the initial question when in fact we are not.

gahahahaonDec 30, 2012

I always like to think of self control the same way as free will. A useful abstraction, but not something that really exists. It is obviously beneficial for a person to believe that he is in control of his choices, of his behavior, because that increases the chance that he will take action to improve his lot. But that it is useful does not mean that it exists.

Has a child of christian parents who have never heard anything but religious music, books, stories, people had the opportunity to make a free choice? I don't think so. Has an American child who has seen thousands and thousands of ads for garbage food taken an independent choice to eat that? I don't think so.

We humans have precious limited mental resources and can’t afford to spend the time considering every decision rationally; therefore, we automatically subconsciously make decisions based on salient features of the current stimulus. In normal words, we make shortcuts based on limited information.

Since people are so very irrational (See Thinking fast and slow by Daniel Kahneman) the idea that we are rational can be used as an excuse by those (advertisers, politicians) who want to manipulate us. So, it is in fact a dangerous idea.

I sometimes entertain the notion that it would be better to live in a totalitarian dictatorship where some benevolent dictator manages the information people are exposed to and thus makes people make better choices of their own free will. (I'm aware that such a society has some dystopian aspects as well, of course)

anindyabdonAug 29, 2015

> The papers that do replicate are tightly clustered a small number of researchers (Kahneman & Tversky)

This doesn't surprise me at all. Kahneman wrote a book, "Thinking, Fast and Slow", in which he spends a long time talking about how most psychologists and social scientists do not understand the basics of statistics and therefore end up with flawed conclusions.

uniformlyrandomonAug 4, 2015

That is weird. They ask to rate not the person, but your feelings against the person.

Yes, this very much simplifies manager's job - but remembering Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow, people are notoriously skewed at measuring things through their feelings. A lot of personal factors, including levels of sugar in reviewer's blood, heavily affect this type of 'judgment'.

I can see how Deloitte may be happy about spending less time on bullshit, and I applaud to that.
I can also see how this new system is no different in consistency of the results compared to the previsions one - both are pure bullshit, so weighted random number generators work approximately the same when asked for 4 of 10 weighted random numbers.
However, I really do not see this as progress. This is more of a regress - they see the problem, but they offer the
solution that makes the managers slightly happier, and does nothing to precision or fairness of the system.

What we need to do it stop blindly applying a sales-oriented performance rating system to engineers.

We need specific set of quantified criteria for each group, and resulting rating should be calculated independently of the rater.
We do not need more manager-oriented performance systems. We need to look at these systems form the point of the employee who is being rated.

gbogonFeb 1, 2013

"Information can cause one of three price reactions: up, down, or flat."

Then there is no cause. Prices change somewhat randomly whether there is some information or not. The only correct predictive model is something like " there is 80pc chance that the price will be between -10 and 30 of its current value". Anything else is reading in a crystal ball.

I didn't invent any of these, read Thinking Fast and Slow if you have any doubts.

jellicleonJan 3, 2012

They have a blog post:


Apparently the poster got a deal at 5x pricing, since their screenshot shows 6.25x pricing.

While the screenshot appears to meet minimum standards for informing customers, it's not really good enough. Let's see, 6.25 x 3.90 per mile x hmmm, let's see, how many miles, what if he takes the tunnel instead of the bridge, hmmm... This is, pardon my French, crap.

First there's a moral problem. Most people view jacking up rates on captive customers when the cost of service hasn't increased as immoral. (See for example Thinking, Fast and Slow by Kahneman.) The average person views this as price-gouging.

But even if you decide that yes, your business is going to operate that way and screw your image, making someone solve a math problem with a half-dozen variables in their head to have some idea of the cost of their ride is not acceptable. Uber's lawyers should look up cases where someone tried to bury a ("and then the cost increases by 900%") clause in a contract and those contracts get rejected by the courts. There's no actual meeting of the minds on the price of the service, and thus the contract is invalid.

Uber would do a lot better to add a surcharge: "Currently there is a $50 surcharge for New Year's Eve in addition to the regular fees. Continue [Y/N]?"

That's more clear, more legally sound, and probably slightly less likely to be perceived as price-gouging.

mbestoonDec 27, 2013

> I don't get how referencing a singular event often is actually an issue.

Because it's irrational and doesn't represent the real probability of an event happening again. The argument is therefore that we are shaping policy (with ramifications on economics, privacy and politics) based on poor statistical analysis. I'd recommend reading Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow if you're interested in understanding how irrational our minds are. http://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Fast-Slow-Daniel-Kahneman/dp/...

furyofantaresonJan 7, 2017

This lecture, which I think I watched as a video on YouTube, was on my mind along with Hammock Driven Development (mentioned in another comment) while I was reading Thinking Fast and Slow. It fits very well with the System 1/System 2 thinking, where the "open" mode is related to allowing the associative machinery to go about its business, chasing strange combinations and associations without the more analytical thinking interfering too much, and then the "closed" mode is a switch, where you allow the more logical system to take hold, really think about what you've come up with and polish (or discard) it.

praptakonJuly 22, 2017

Kahneman in "Thinking, fast and slow" covers expert overconfidence. Some funny quotes:

"The Duke scholars collected 11,600 such forecasts and examined their accuracy. The conclusion was straightforward: financial officers of large corporations had no clue about the short-term future of the stock market; the correlation between their estimates and the true value was slightly less than zero!"

"The wide confidence interval is a confession of ignorance, which is not socially acceptable for someone who is paid to be knowledgeable in financial matters. Even if they knew how little they know, the executives would be penalized for admitting it."

KagerjayonFeb 6, 2019

I only read 10% of a book called "Ego is the enemy". I don't intend on reading it anymore. It was recommended by a few developers I respect.

There was one specific anecdote that rung true. Jackie Robinson, the first African American baseball player. It took a lot of guts to actually make in the MLB. First to get in athletically. Second to not lose his cool, because of racial segregation. Third, to actually be recognized as Rookie of the year. He had a lot of opposition against him but never got triggered. And he was a role model for many.

There's some other good books, like the "Toyota Way" and "Thinking fast and slow"

EvgenyonDec 28, 2013

It's hard to choose a single book, as I've read (or listened to) a number of books this year.

I'll choose Daniel Kahneman - Thinking, Fast and Slow (http://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Fast-Slow-Daniel-Kahneman-ebo...).

The way it changed my life was to make me actually think more about the way my mind operates, the decisions I make and the way these decisions affect my life. As a consequence, there were a few books I read later that were loosely related to this one in the way that they all refer to the way people think.

Barry Schwartz - The Paradox of Choice

Steven Pinker - How the Mind Works

Nassim Taleb - The Black Swan; and Fooled by Randomness

Leonard Mlodinov - The Drunkard's Walk (quite similar to Fooled by Randomness)

Carol Dweck - Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Neil Postman / Andrew Postman - Amusing Ourselves to Death

Rolf Dobelli - The Art of Thinking Clearly (just started)

On my reading list now:

Quiet by Susan Cain - mentioned already

The Better Angels of Our Nature - Steven Pinker

Jared Diamond - Guns, Germs and Steel

Neal Stephenson - Snow Crash

Jared Diamond - The World Until Yesterday

Also, did not quite change my life, but very recommended:

Neal Stephenson - Anathem.

You may have to struggle through the beginning, but as soon as I understood the way the world he devised operates, I was thrilled completely.

godmode2019onJune 26, 2021

* Thinking fast and slow - how to think and make decision and how to consider bias.

* Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth - specialisation is for insects.

* Propaganda - 1928 book by the inventor of public relations and modern media. Know how they influence you.

* The war of art - being a professional. Honesty I don't think this book was written by a human this book completely changed my life and any other person I for to read this book had a similar experience.

I have more but I don't want to information overload anyone.

gghootchonNov 28, 2014

This report reminds me of a passage in "Thinking Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman. Prestigious foundations such as the Gates Foundation pumped millions (billions?) of dollars into smaller scale education because a report identified that the worst performing schools had large classrooms in poor, rural counties. Much later, a second review of the data revealed that the best primary schools had large classrooms in poor, rural counties. The results were merely statistical outliers caused by small sample data.

It would not surprise me if the easiest places to live have identical demographics and characteristics as the hardest places to live. The correlation might be dual, but the causation is near impossible to identify.

Edit: long term memory fail.

tracker1onSep 2, 2016

I would look at a few design and user experience books... "Don't make me think", "Thinking fast and slow" and "Designed for use" come to mind.

As developers, and even PMs we will tend to overload our users with too much... simplification, structure, clarity come to mind. Another deep issue, and I don't have any books to recommend center around nomenclature... Too many projects don't take the time to concentrate on naming things from a high level... From project features to user roles and the language/platform that integrate them, there's often confusion and blurred lines with the same names used in different contexts.

samsonraduonMar 27, 2017

I have been using a 15" laptop for dev work for quite some years now. I have an external monitor next to it but most of the time it stays off, only using it to test things on large resolutions.

There are a few reasons for that:

1. It protects my eyes. I felt much more tired with 2 displays glaring at me all day.

2. Most of the time it's just useless information sitting idle on my second screen. I rarely need to work with 2 windows at the same time and when I do (fe. when coding while reading the docs) I can just fit them on one screen. Though I usually just switch tabs in order not to copy paste and try to understand what I'm reading first.
I try to keep my mental load small, focus on what I am doing. I for one I'm not that good at multitasking (and after reading Thinking Fast and Slow I understand I'm not alone) so whatever is on that second screen will steal attention from what I'm focused on.

3. There is really not much "realtime" work I need to do so 1 min or 2 until I check my email/Skype is acceptable.

Anyone else doing the same?

roguecoderonDec 6, 2011

If you don't have time to bother to learn about a topic, why do you assume you are more knowledgable on it than people who do spend their time studying the topic at hand? Your theory boils down to "Tide goes in, tide goes out. Never a miscommunication. You can't explain that." You can "take apart" as many papers as you want to maintain your ignorance, but all you do is make yourself irrelevant to the discussion.

If you want to "prove" that the disparity is due to men and women experiencing different cultural dynamics in male-dominated spaces (which is why research regarding male-dominated scientific fields and financial firms are relevant to the question at hand) all you need is the Census Bureau's labor statistics. The interesting research questions are what specific dynamics are at play and how we can disrupt them.

Lest you assume my contemptuous response to your willful ignorance can be ignored due to a [citation needed] tag, one paper that perhaps offers more of the background you are looking for would be the FLOSSPOLS overview of their gender-related findings in Open Source communities: http://www.flosspols.org/deliverables/FLOSSPOLS-D16-Gender_I... For background on the mechanisms involved on a micro level I'd suggest the book Thinking, Fast and Slow, and on a more macro level specifically regarding gender, I recommend Pink Brain, Blue Brain.

If you want to claim that the highly statistically-unlikely and culturally-variable gender disparities in pay, promotion and participation are not due to sexist dynamics, you need to provide both an alternative theory and evidence to support it. Given that the only evidence required to prove that sexist behavior is present in technical spaces are the comments to this article, the burden of proof is on those who disregard the published research on the topic and claim those behaviors are either isolated aberrations or have no effect on women's willingness to be employed in the field.

criddellonFeb 13, 2019

I don't think fiction can be shrunk down, but I think lots of non-fiction books can.

I'm thinking specifically of some books that I've read in the past couple of years that include:

  * Deep Work
* Influence
* Thinking Fast and Slow
* Predictably Irrational
* Getting Things Done
* How to Win Friends and Influence People

I think all of these books suffer from the common pattern of present an idea then a bunch of examples that demonstrate the idea. I don't think you lose anything by ditching the examples. The core ideas are usually well stated and don't need clarification or demonstration.

shadowsun7onJuly 3, 2018

What has worked really well for me has been to follow Peter Bregman's reading technique, which he got from history professor Michael Jimenez (story and full article here: https://hbr.org/2016/02/how-to-read-a-book-a-week):

  1. Check out the author’s bio online to get a sense of the person’s bias and perspective. 
2. Read the title, subtitle, front flap, table of contents. Figure out the big-picture argument of the book, and how that argument is laid out.
3. Read the introduction and conclusion word for word to figure out where the author starts from and where he eventually gets to.
4. Read/skim each chapter: Read the title, the first few paragraphs or the first few pages of the chapter to figure out how the author is using the chapter and where it fits into the argument of the whole book. Then skim through headings and subheadings to get an idea of the flow. Read the first sentence and last sentence of each paragraph. Once you get an argument, feel free to move on to the next argument, skipping over the many repeated case studies or examples.
5. End with the table of contents again, looking through, and summarising each.

I've found that this has worked wonders for my reading. A year or so later, I refined this technique further, as I found that it didn't work for all books (it works for 'single-idea' books, which I call 'branch books'; it doesn't work as well for 'map of ideas' books, which I call 'tree books'.) For example, The Long Tail is the an example of a branch book, and Thinking: Fast and Slow is an example of a tree book.

(I've written a longer post about the categories here: https://commoncog.com/blog/the-3-kinds-of-non-fiction-book/)

Edited for formatting

steveeq1onDec 12, 2017

To put the problem of blacks being killed by racist white police officers into perspective. . .


Mind you, that's "white people", much less "white people that also happen to be police officers".

I think what is happening here is something called "availability bias" ( http://www.howtogetyourownway.com/biases/availability_bias ). Basically, events that can be easily recalled are given additional weight in decision making than the alternatives that don't. Daniel Kahneman described it very well in his excellent book "Thinking Fast and Slow", which I highly recommend.

The thing is is, "An unarmed black man shot and killed by white police officer" is often repeated in media stores because, well, there is money in it. And because the reporting is so frequent, our brains pair "black man" with "white police officer" and often we jump to the wrong conclusion. While no one is arguing that police brutality is a "problem", availability bias makes the problem seem far bigger than it actually is.

alienjronMay 27, 2018

I can't give just one, but here are a few that had a strong influence on me:
"12 Rules for Life" by Jordan Peterson, "Why Switzerland?" Jonathan Steinberg, "Little Book of Common Sense Investing" by John C. Bogle, "A Random Walk Down Wall Street" by Butron Malkiel, "Liberalismus" by Ludwig von Mises, "Meditations" by Marcus Aurelius, "A Treatise of Human Nature" by David Hume, "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman, "The Law" by Frédéric Bastiat, "Autobiography" by Benjamin Franklin, "Common Sense" by Thomas Paine, "Gespräche mit Goethe" by Johann Peter Eckermann, "Walden" by Henry David Thoreau, "The Old Regime and the Revolution" Alexis de Tocqueville, "On Liberty" by John Stuart Mill, "A Treatise on Political Economy" by Jean-Baptiste Say, "The Man Versus the State" by Herbert Spencer, "The Revolt of the Masses" by José Ortega y Gasset, "Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy" by Joseph Alois Schumpeter, "The Logic of Scientific Discovery" by Karl Popper, "The Machinery of Freedom" by David Friedman, "On Power" Bertrand de Jouvenel, "1984" by George Orwell, "The State" by Anthony de Jasay, "Sketched With the Quill" by Andrzej Bobkowski, "My Correct Views on Everything" by Leszek Kolakowski, "The Captive Mind" Czesław Miłosz, "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, "The House of the Dead" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, "Conversations with an Executioner" by Kazimierz Moczarski, "Diary 1954" by Leopold Tyrmand, "The Master and Margarita" by Mikhail Bulgakov, "A World Apart: A Memoir of the Gulag" by Gustaw Herling-Grudziński

namibjonMay 12, 2019

I'm pacing through Thinking, Fast and Slow in 25~35h. Single, linear read, spaced over (sadly) a few weeks. From time to time I'm pausing additionally to just map the concepts I just read in the minutes before against my experiences, in order to integrate them with each other.

I'm not rushing reading speed at all, and while I'm not a native speaker, I'm multiple times faster on e.g. The Hunger Games (I rarely read fiction).

If you want to apply the knowledge in a book, read it slow and literally step aside and e.g. just sit or pace around trying to integrate it with previous knowledge / experience.

SatvikBerionJan 7, 2012

This seems heavily related to the main point of the book "Thinking, Fast and Slow" . There are two major types of thinking-instantaneous, "go with your gut" judgments, and conscious processing. Spending even a minute on a decision forces you to use some conscious processing in addition to the go-with-your-gut decision.

This is especially useful when you're solving new problems or working on things you're not particularly good at. My personal example is estimating distance. When somebody asked, my "gut feeling" about the distance from Boston to Delaware was 600 miles. 30 seconds of conscious thinking and I realized it could be no more than 400 miles (the correct answer is about 350).

The other useful aspect of switching to conscious thinking is that it at least makes you aware of the rationale for your decision. When making a conscious estimate I break it down into smaller parts, and if the estimate is way off it's usually because one of the parts was off. But for me, that doesn't work with instant guesses.

aj__onJuly 28, 2015

Here are several books I've found extremely useful. Ranked by how important I view them.

1. Thinking Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman. If you're going to read one, read this. A lot of theory undergirding how people think. Decision making by people will make a lot more sense after this.

2. Influence - Robert Cialdani. Less theory and more pragmatic advice on how to influence people.

3. Drive - Daniel Pink, Switch - Chip Heath, Made to Stick - Chip Heath, Predictably Irrational - Dan Ariely. Books on specific sub-categories. More pop-psych. Information density is less, but easier to read.

4. Poor Charlie's Almanac - Charlie Munger. Best known as Warren Buffett's partner, this book is a collection of his speeches, letters, etc... You get an idea of how he thinks but, but you have to dig through the repetitive ramble to get it. Think of it as Charlie observing a lot of the prior principles but putting it into a real life/business context.

klenwellonOct 20, 2019

I hate deadlines simply because organizations I have worked in tend to assign them indiscriminately without any reference to reality. Upper management wants to set a deadline for a big project? Then they need to be prepared to commit and compromise. While developers continuously deliver, product owners and stakeholders need to continuously review, reevaluate, and adapt.

In Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman offers my favorite object lesson on the topic:


He sums up:

This embarrassing episode remains one of the most instructive experiences of my professional life. I eventually learned three lessons from it. The first was immediately apparent: I had stumbled onto a distinction between two profoundly different approaches to forecasting, which Amos and I later labeled the inside view and the outside view. The second lesson was that our initial forecasts of about two years for the completion of the project exhibited a planning fallacy. Our estimates were closer to a best-case scenario than to a realistic assessment. I was slower to accept the third lesson, which I call irrational perseverance: the folly we displayed that day in failing to abandon the project. Facing a choice, we gave up rationality rather than give up the enterprise.

The suggestion that the enterprise should have been abandoned all together can be misinterpreted as fatalistic, even nihilistic. I take it to mean that you've got to do your research (the outside view), rigorously define your MVP, and then work from there. If your deadline is fixed, be ready to scale back.

His distinction between the inside and outside view is the key. For a project to have any hope of realistic timelines, it needs to be understood and the outside view needs to be applied.

sz4kertoonMar 14, 2014

Kahneman thinks otherwise. Perceived CEO performance and company performance have low correlation -- as low as 0.3.

I could give references, but the book (Thinking, Fast and Slow) is not in public domain yet, so just some 3rd party links:

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