Thinking, Fast and Slow

I finally finished reading Thinking, Fast and Slow (Daniel Kahneman, 2011, 499 pages). I have then officially joined the club of the few millions of people that read it before me. Yes, this book is a major bestseller, and one can easily recognize why.

In the first place, this is science-based book. More than that, it is almost a summary of a great and successful scientific career that the author has had. And that means lots of quality.

On a very short note, the book goes about describing how we usually process information on our brains, from the quick and more intuitive answers or decision-making we do very fast, all the time, to the more demanding and heavy thinking processes, which we are typically too lazy to put in action. And then it comes the long list of direct, indirect, and fascinating consequences that this fact alone implies.

Of course, good science is all about good questions, inspired hypothesis, and the discipline to collect evidences and analyze them rigorously. And all that the author has done brilliantly his whole life. But, as it is the case with most produced scientific work, there is always margin for questioning and some level of criticism.

In this case, I also found myself questioning a couple topics. Like when the author completely disregards “stock picking” as something at all possible or credible, to which I would love to point out that his perspective on it seemed wrongly “framed” to me. Choosing stocks to invest on seems like a foolish undertaking, when the goal is put to be “beating the marked”, or using “skill” to consistently over-perform stock market indexes. But when seen as a way to acquire ownership over long-term wealth creating organizations, and here there is no recipe for what long-term precisely means, picking stocks has a huge significance, and some balance-sheet reading skills can ultimately mean utter financial and, unfortunately, political power.

Anyways, this and a few other minor topics that made me raise some eyebrows – most likely due to some fast thinking on my side – are nothing but a tribute to how good this book actually is. And good books are good at exactly that: guiding us to think in new ways, enlarging our understanding of ourselves and of how things actually work under the hood of some misleading appearances.