“Brilliant. . . . Lewis has given us a spectacular account of two great men who faced up to uncertainty and the limits of human reason.” William Easterly, Wall Street Journal
Forty years ago, Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky wrote a series of breathtakingly original papers that invented the field of behavioral economics. One of the greatest partnerships in the history of science, Kahneman and Tversky’s extraordinary friendship incited a revolution in Big Data studies, advanced evidence-based medicine, led to a new approach to government regulation, and made much of Michael Lewis’s own work possible. In The Undoing Project, Lewis shows how their Nobel Prize–winning theory of the mind altered our perception of reality.
Michael Lewis is the best-selling author of Liar’s Poker, Moneyball, The Blind Side, The Big Short, and The Undoing Project. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife and three children.
Date of Birth:October 15, 1960
Place of Birth:New Orleans, LA
Education:Princeton University, B.A. in Art History, 1982; London School of Economics, 1985
Introduction: The Problem that Never Goes Away 15
1 Man Boobs 21
2 The Outsider 52
3 The Insider 85
4 Errors 116
5 The Collision 142
6 The Mind's Rules 165
7 The Rules of Prediction 196
8 Going Viral 212
9 Birth of the Warrior Psychologist 238
10 The Isolation Effect 268
11 The Rules of Undoing 291
12 This Cloud of Possibility 313
Coda: Bora-Bora 339
A Note on Sources 353
Reviewer: Peter LewisAt its peak, the book combines intellectual rigor with complex portraiture…During its final pages, I was blinking back tears, hardly your typical reaction to a book about a pair of academic psychologists. The reason is simple. Mr. Lewis has written one hell of a love story, and a tragic one at that. The book is particularly good at capturing the agony of the one who loves the more.Lewis is the ideal teller of [this] story. Dating to his 1989 debut, Liar's Poker…he has displayed a rare combination for a writer. He immerses himself in big ideasabout finance, technology, sports and, ultimately, the human conditionand then explains them to readers with sophistication and clarity. But he is also a vastly better raconteur than most other writers playing the explication game. You laugh when you read his books. You see his protagonists in three dimensionsdeeply likable, but also flawed, just like most of your friends and family.12/12/2016
Lewis (Flash Boys) deftly explores a timeless and fascinating subject—human decision-making—through the intellectually intimate collaboration of two influential psychologists, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. The pair met in 1969 and worked together until a few years before Tversky's death in 1996. As Lewis explains, they discovered that people do not make decisions as economists long believed—as "intuitive statisticians"—but rather in a chaotic fashion shot through with confirmation bias, fears of regret, sensitivity to change, the desire to avoid loss, and a propensity to mentally undo distressing outcomes. Through interviews with Tversky and Kahneman's friends, family, colleagues, rivals, and critics, as well as the psychologists' own recollections, letters, and published papers, Lewis seamlessly pieces together an informative and engagingly paced story. He begins with a step-by-step explanation of why both human minds and statistical models so often fail to produce the best choice. He then interweaves the psychologists' early lives, military service in defense of the young state of Israel, and professorial careers in both Israel and the United States with their questions, theories, and startling conclusions about how people actually make decisions. Lewis' latest effort is a joy to read, packed with "aha!" moments, telling and at times hilarious details, and elegant explanations of complex experiments and theories. (Dec. 6)“Lewis is the ideal teller of [Tversky and Kahneman’s] story… You see his protagonists in three dimensionsdeeply likable, but also flawed, just like most of your friends and family.”2016-12-06
The bestselling author combines biography with recent intellectual history in a saga about the influential Israeli psychologist team of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. Tversky died in 1996, before Lewis (Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, 2014, etc.) even recognized his name. But Kahneman is still living, and Lewis spent lots of time with him studying his theories of how the human mind works while making decisions ranging from product purchasing decisions to choosing a marriage partner. Lewis' fascination with Tversky and Kahneman began with a reference in a review of his bestseller Moneyball, a book that explained how the Oakland Athletics organization overhauled its decision-making processes in order to sign the best athletes possible on a limited budget. The review praised Lewis for explaining how most baseball executives had been choosing players using irrational criteria. The review also emphasized that the author seemed unaware that the techniques were grounded in the decades-old research of Tversky and Kahneman. That research demonstrated the irrationalities of the human brain and recommended how such irrational thinking could be minimized. By the time Lewis approached Kahneman, the potential book subject had won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, despite identifying as a psychologist. However, he had not yet completed his bestselling book Thinking, Fast and Slow (2011), so Lewis would be chronicling an individual nearly unknown outside academia. The result is largely successful. As always, Lewis' writing style is engaging and mostly irresistible. The opening chapter is slightly disorienting because it never mentions the book's subjects; instead, the author chronicles the journey of a professional basketball executive hoping to construct a systematic method of choosing players. However, after Lewis eases into the main subjects, he ably captures their outsized personalities, explaining how they came to collaborate and how that collaboration slowly frayed. Kahneman and Tversky approached their personal lives and their research in extremely divergent manners. At times, Lewis' details about the unlikely coupling overwhelm the larger narrative, but that is a minor complaint in another solid book from this gifted author.