Book Review: The Undoing Project; Michael Lewis


Five stars.

Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky are my psychology heroes. Their groundbreaking work in psychology, “Thinking Fast and Slow” is a book I’m digesting a second time, piece by piece. Ideas such as “anchoring bias” are astounding ideas. Ask a group of college students for example, to write down the last 2 digits of their social security number. Then ask them how many countries there are in Africa, and ANCHORING BIAS in their brains lead them to guess at a number surprisingly close to their last 2 digits! In the setting of a difficult question, the brain answers an easier question: “Does the number seem higher or lower than the last thing you were thinking about?” Ideas like this are densely packed in their tome.

What is surprising, is that both psychologists were officers in the Israeli army, and furthermore that their personalities were diametrically opposed, and yet they were best of friends. In fact they were nearly inseparable for the best years of their collaboration: neither could say for sure when an idea came from one or the other; they built seamlessly and sharpened the ideas of the other.

In the end the relationship dissipates, as they become more famous, are recruited individually to America for professorships, and never recapture the innocence and amazingly productive partnership that had flourished in their earlier collaboration.

This is a great intro to their work, told in the same Michael Lewis style of Moneyball and the New New Thing and The Blind Side, weaving people, stories and ideas into a fascinating whole. But, make no mistake, I think you should read Kahneman and Tversky in the original, in their masterwork.

CMIO’s take? Want to know how people work? How to be better at your job? More importantly, want to know how your own brain works? Read these 2 books.

Author: CT Lin

CMIO, UCHealth (Colorado); Professor, University of Colorado School of Medicine

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