Thinking, Fast and Slow

Daniel Kahneman, the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his seminal work in psychology that challenged the rational model of judgment and decision making, is one of the most important thinkers.

In “Thinking, Fast and Slow”, Kahneman takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. Here’s the famous example.

A baseball bat and a ball cost $1.10 together and the bat costs $1 more than the ball. How much is the ball cost? 

$0.10 will be the answer but it’s wrong because The bat is $1 more expensive so $1 + $0.10 will make the bat $1.10 and with the ball, it’ll cost $1.20 as whole (The real answer is $0.05). Here’s another example.

This is a survey to travelers about the insurance. Which one will you pay more?

A: How much would you pay for insurance that pays $100,000 in case of death for any reason?

B: How much would you pay for insurance that pays $100,000 in case of death in terror incident?

The survey result was B. Obviously it’s not logical but it shows how much the participants fear the terrorism.

The final example:

A: How happy are you? How many dates you went on last months? > Not correlation

B: How many dates you went on last months? how happy are you? >0.66

For A, the researcher found no correlation between dates and the level of happiness but for B, the correlation is 0.66.

Those examples are showing how system 1 affects our thinking (or actually, no thinking at all) but to be fair, system 1 isn’t necessary wrong because if you’re trained enough, the immediate answer could be correct.  System 1 is “something happens to you”and you do it intuitively just like a professional pianist can play a piece while chatting with you or even solving a mathematical problem. In this case, the music happens to that pianist as their hands and fingers are in the autopilot mode because they’ve trained enough to make that piece a part of them.

However, we indeed, need to train ourselves to use system 2 more often to spot false or potential false to protect us from danger. Especially, when we interact with others, confident people are convincing and assuring because their confidence influences our mind and behavior.  However, something called “subjective confidence” is very dangerous.  It’s not a judgement but a feeling. It’s system 1, assessing the fluency of its own processing and assessing the coherence of story it has created to deal with current situation. This is quite disastrous.  You can make a very coherent story without reliable quantity and quality. Therefore, confidence isn’t a good indicate to evaluate if you should trust yourself or someone else.

Who’s the greatest living example? That guy who makes the America Great Again. 

About Dan Zen Learning

This is provided by Dan who’s a serial tech entrepreneur, IT sales & marketing professional with 12 year working experiences in Japan, 10 years in Taiwan, 6 years in Beijing and learning something everyday. Blog / Podcast / YouTube