Templar recommends: The Undoing Project

The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis is the story of the friendship and thinking partnership between the two men who reshaped how we understand human decision-making, Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman.

Undoing ProjectTwo brilliant minds on their own, Tversky and Kahneman morphed into one extraordinary thinking entity that broke into economic theory with the disruptive idea that the human brain makes mistakes. These human, unavoidable mistakes, Kahneman and Tversky found, influence all of our financial decisions.

When asked about whether their findings could be applied to the then embryonic field of artificial intelligence, Tversky said, “We study natural stupidity.”

Did he mean he considered humans stupid?  No.  He meant that humans are not the hyper-rational beings that economists tend to assume and therefore, our decisions are often blinded by cognitive biases.

Why do we value the things we own more than the exact same things that are available out there but not in our inventory?
Why do we think more information is always better than less?
Why are we more averse to losing than we are attracted to gaining?
Why even the most rational of the economists forgo their knowledge of statistics when presented with data framed a certain way?

By thinking about what people want and don’t want when they chose something over something else, two psychologists from Jerusalem set the ground for the influential field of behavioral economics. In 2002, Daniel Kahneman was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for the work he’d done with Amos Tversky, deceased in 1996.

Why We Love It

The book contains all the ingredients of great stories – characters, struggle, and tons of detail – and at the same time it’s rich in mind-changing research findings and eye-opening ideas.

Lewis recounts the long conversations the two Israelis held behind closed doors, how they laughed, loudly and incessantly, while working on the groundbreaking theories that propelled them to academic stardom.

How Kahneman doubted his ability to generate new ideas after each paper was finished.  How Tversky was absolutely free, confident, and fearless–and the smartest person in the room, always, in every single room.  How, together, they realised that we, humans, are biased and hence subject to all kinds of judgment mistakes.

While the book reads like fiction, it subtly exposes the reader to the inner works of the human mind.

When you read The Undoing Project, you’ll find yourself immersed in a story with which you can connect at a personal level, a story you won’t be able to put down.  At the same time, you’ll learn, or get a fresh perspective on, the ideas that changed how we think about how we think.

Carolina Perez Sanz

Carolina Perez Sanz  joined Templar in 2017, bringing with her 20 years of diverse, international experience as a communications consultant. Carolina is fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, and French. She holds a PhD in Linguistics from the Complutense University of Madrid as well as an MS in Public Relations and Corporate Communication from New York University.

Carolina is certified in the Hogan suite of personality assessment tools for success in the workplace, composed of the Hogan Personality Inventory, Hogan Development Survey and Motives Values Preferences Inventory.


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