Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

Thinking, Fast and Slow

Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

Thinking, Fast and Slow

Article excerpt

Daniel Kahneman. Thinking, Fast and Slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011.

Daniel Kahneman's premise is deceptively simple. We have two modes of thinking, which he calls System 1 and System 2. System 1 operates automatically, quickly, and effortlessly; System 2 operates deliberately, systematically, and painstakingly. System I intuits; System 2 computes. System 1 reacts involuntarily; System 2 makes choices. We use System 1 during most of our waking hours. System 2 relies on System 1 for suggestions based on experience.

After establishing the distinctions between Systems 1 and 2, Kahneman devotes most of the nearly 500 pages of Thinking, Fast and Slow to the biases they create and the missteps they engender. For example, the author talks about WYSIATI (what you see is all there is), a term he uses to explain how we generally make sense of the world--often with success but sometimes to our detriment.

WYSIATI helps us to quickly size up new situations and make correct snap judgments based on reality. However, biases abound from this operating system. We see the world as more logical and predictable than it really is and, against the advice of the proverbial Wall Street disclaimer, we rely on past results as indicators of future results.

Kahneman, a Nobel laureate in economics, details how distortions in thought cause us to approach decisions with overconfidence, to frame situations improperly, and to rely solely on best-case scenarios. …

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