Book Report – The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds

The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds by Michael Lewis

Michael Lewis may be the best nonfiction storytellers in American right now. I came across his latest book in an interview he did on the Charlie Rose program, which streams on Hulu and I encourage you to check it out.

The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds is about how two Israeli psychologists formed possibly the greatest partnership in science ever. The two undid assumptions about decision making and created the field of behavioral economics, and I’m not even close to describing the extent to which they’ve had on the world. The story, told brilliantly, also is about a complex and brilliant friendship.

Short Synopsis from Amazon

“Forty years ago, Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky wrote a series of breathtakingly original studies undoing our assumptions about the decision-making process. Their papers showed the ways in which the human mind erred, systematically, when forced to make judgments in uncertain situations. Their work created the field of behavioral economics, revolutionized Big Data studies, advanced evidence-based medicine, led to a new approach to government regulation, and made much of Michael Lewis’s own work possible. Kahneman and Tversky are more responsible than anybody for the powerful trend to mistrust human intuition and defer to algorithms.”

My Report

As I mentioned earlier, I am unable to do the book justice other than to say it was a page-turner and a great historical story I had no clue existed.

Here is an example of the meaning of it: Lewis wrote the book Moneyball on how a low-budget major league baseball team decided to defy all norms and use a self-build algorithm to pick players for the team rather than conventional wisdom and advice from scouts. The thought behind that sort of move was directly related to the work of Kahneman and Tversky on the human mind. It’s now been adopted in some form by every sports team in the world, not to mention its applications in medicine, economics, government policy, etc.

“A part of good science is to see what everyone else can see but think what no one else has ever said.” – Amos Tversky


What I Learned

“It is sometimes easier to make the world a better place than to prove you have made the world a better place.” – Amos Tversky


The book is widely available.

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