Book review: Reading, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Thinking, Fast and SlowThinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an interesting book about psychological processes and how they work, specifically how we think, and the difference between “instinct” and “gut reaction” and “actual thinky thinking involving things like stopping to focus on math” (these are my terms–the author referred to them as systems 1 and 2 respectively).

One of the big issues I had with this book was that it emphasized, over and over, that more often than not, algorithms made objectively better choices in the aggregate than individual humans did in most choice-based scenarios. This was especially interesting to me because I had just finished Algorithms of Oppression, which talks about how systemic racism gets baked into algorithms as they are built. This book more or less ignores that, other than pointing out in passing (really handwaving) that many of the examples they use are predicated on dealing with people who are not socially or economically disadvantaged in some way.

Interesting book, I can see why it was popular with the evidence-based-decisionmaking folks, and I mostly finished it so that I’d have a better understanding of where they were coming from, and so that I’d build better algorithms/ assessment methods/arguments when decisionmaking that better account for systemic biases.

View all my reviews


About Lynne M. Thomas

Lynne M. Thomas is a nine time Hugo Award winning editor and podcaster. In her day job, she is Head of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
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