A reading club with a view to the future

330 Michael Lewis: The undoing project

“The Undoing Project” explores the groundbreaking work of psychologists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman and their contributions to the field of behavioral economics.



"The Undoing Project" delves into the collaboration between Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, two Israeli psychologists whose research revolutionized the understanding of human decision-making. Their work on cognitive biases, heuristics, and prospect theory challenged conventional economic theory and paved the way for the field of behavioral economics.


Title: "The Undoing Project"

Author: Michael Lewis

Publishing Year: 2016

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

Length in Hours: 10 hours and 18 minutes

5 main ideas

  1. Tversky and Kahneman's research demonstrated that human decision-making is often influenced by cognitive biases and shortcuts, rather than rational analysis.
  2. They introduced the concept of heuristics, mental shortcuts that individuals employ to simplify complex problems and make judgments under uncertainty.
  3. Their collaboration resulted in the development of prospect theory, which explains how people make choices in situations involving potential gains or losses.
  4. The duo's work debunked the traditional economic assumption of rational decision-making, leading to a paradigm shift in understanding human behavior.
  5. Tversky and Kahneman's groundbreaking contributions continue to influence various fields, including economics, psychology, and policy-making

5 funny quotes

  1. "They were a Vesuvius of ideas."
  2. "Tversky had the kind of mind that could generate ideas as effortlessly as the heat and light of a sun."
  3. "Kahneman learned that if you took an idea seriously enough, it had a way of turning around and surprising you."
  4. "The chance of getting a paper published in a major journal in your field increased by one-third when you cited a paper by Amos Tversky."
  5. "There was something comic about the sight of two distinguished scientists shrieking at each other from either side of a telephone line."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "The human mind was just bad at seeing certain things, even when they were right in front of it."
  2. "The mind is a machine for jumping to conclusions."
  3. "People would make decisions based on the representation of the problem rather than on the problem itself."
  4. "A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth."
  5. "The secret to doing good research is always to be a little underemployed. You waste years by not being able to waste hours."

5 dilemmas

  1. Balancing the need for simplicity and efficiency with the recognition of cognitive biases and the complexity of human decision-making.
  2. Addressing the tension between the desire for rational economic models and the reality of human behavior, characterized by biases and irrationality.
  3. Exploring the trade-offs between intuitive decision-making, driven by heuristics, and analytical decision-making, driven by deliberate reasoning.
  4. Navigating the challenge of reconciling individual decision-making with the social and cultural contexts that influence our choices.
  5. Confronting the dilemma of how to effectively communicate complex research findings in behavioral economics to a broader audience and policymakers.

5 examples

  1. Albert Einstein, known for his theory of relativity, is mentioned in the context of his disagreement with the statistical interpretation of quantum mechanics.
  2. Thomas Bayes, an 18th-century mathematician, is referenced in discussions about Bayesian inference and its influence on Tversky and Kahneman's work.
  3. Richard Thaler, a prominent economist and proponent of behavioral economics, is mentioned in relation to his collaboration with Daniel Kahneman.
  4. John von Neumann, a mathematician and pioneer of game theory, is referenced in discussions on Tversky and Kahneman's interest in decision-making and probability.
  5. Charles Darwin, known for his theory of evolution, is mentioned in the context of his contributions to evolutionary psychology, which influenced Tversky and Kahneman's understanding of human cognition.

Referenced books

  1. "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman
  2. "Judgment Under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases" edited by Daniel Kahneman, Paul Slovic, and Amos Tversky
  3. "Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness" by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein
  4. "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" by Robert B. Cialdini
  5. "Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions" by Dan Ariely

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"The chance of getting a paper published in a major journal in your field increased by one-third when you cited a paper by Amos Tversky."

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