Saturday, June 23, 2012

The wisdom of Daniel Kahneman

"We are often confident even when we are wrong."
Daniel Kahneman (b. 1934)
Psychologist, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences

I imagine that you're like me: many times in your life you've made a snap judgment that turned out to be right, and, admit it, many times in your life you've made a snap judgment that ended up going south on you…..

Kahneman has done Nobel-worthy work on the psychology of judgment and decision-making, in the economics realm it embraces the study of behavioral economics. He says that our intuition is an important and valuable element of our behavior, but sometimes – and not infrequently - our intuition is wrong.

That isn't exactly a hold-the-presses insight. What Kahneman finds essentially important is not the acknowledgment that intuition can be wrong, duh ---- he says it's important to recognize that often we are casually and unknowingly confident about our demonstrably wrong intuitions and about the decisions we make based on gut feeling and snap judgment.

This confidence can lead us to ignore or denigrate evidence that's contrary to our gut feelings and beliefs, and to ignore or denigrate the people who have conflicting gut feelings and beliefs. For example, we have the spectacle of our current, partisan, dangerously polarized political discussion featuring a lot of screaming and not too much listening..

Kahneman's latest best seller  – "Thinking, Fast and Slow" – is a fascinating read as long as you're not expecting beach novel prose. And in case you just made a fast, intuitive decision that it's probably not your cup of tea: slow down, think again, give it a try.

Another take on knowing....

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