Friday, January 3, 2020

A Book Worth Reading: "The Undoing Project"

As with most of my activities, reading for enjoyment tends to ebb and flow. Lately I've been on something of a reading bender; admittedly largely in the form of audiobooks. I'm also literally doing some page turning, but that takes a little longer as I don't always have the patience to sit and read for long period of time.

I just finished "The Undoing Project" by Michael Lewis. Also the author behind "Moneyball" ,which was adapted to the big screen, Lewis's style is to look at interface where human decision making based on experience and "rules of thumb" come to intersect with data and statistics driven decision making. He does this with grace that focuses on the relationships while making the statistics driven aspects colloquial and accessible to all.

 While starting with discussing basketball and the Houston Rockets, "The Undoing Project" ultimately. tells the story of the deep friendship between psychologists Danny Kahneman and Amos Tversky. Together they forged the beginning of what is now called "behavioral economics". Taking a counter approach to traditional economics that says people are rational they studied, to great success, what factors into people's decision-making and why there is often fallibility in the process.

The story Lewis tells hooked me in both the beauty of the academic work and the course of Kahneman and Tversky's friendship, starting at Hebrew University in Israel and eventually ending with prestige in the United States. The book has me missing working with peers as I did in grad school and my postdoc. It also has me wondering if I shouldn't have gone into behavioral economics as I find it truly fascinating.

So if you're looking for something to read and tease your brain a little I suggest checking it out!

PS Here are some links to Kahneman-Tversky papers.

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