Friday, April 20, 2012

Thinking fast and slow

Today, I will like to share about a book I have just started to read last weekend. The title of the book was "Thinking fast and slow" by Nobel prize laureate, Daniel Kahneman. Basically, Dr Kahneman purported that there are two Types in our brain - Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 is about our intuition - that's the fast thinking. Type 2 is about data processing - usually it takes effort to do so. Most (if not all) people rely on Type 1 of their brain most of the time.

E.g. When shown a picture of a person, we can read his emotions almost effortlessly. When we make such inferences, we are using Type 1 of our brain.

Another example: Person A is meek and shy. She is also highly structured. Do you think she is more likely to be a librarian or a farmer. When posed with such a question, many will unanimously say "librarian". That's the Type 1 of their brain working. But not many will think further about statistics. In America, for every librarian, there are 6 farmers. So Person A is 6 times more likely to be a farmer than a librarian.What Dr Kahneman shares is not something new. We know that logic tells but emotion sells.

What does it mean for us? There are three takeaways which I will like to share.

(1) Be careful when we make inference. More likely than not, we are using unsubstantiated intuition. It takes effort to use Type 2 of our brain.

(2) And of course, as what Malcolm Gladwell shared in 10,000 hours, when we practise hard enough it will make it to Type 1 of our brain. That's why top chess player could very quickly decide what is the best strategy. In the case of doctors, top doctors are able to make the right diagnosis in a split second, due to their vast experiences. (Yes, there is no free lunch in this world. If you want to be good, you have to work very, very, very hard).

(3) Last but not lest, is to tell stories not just convey data. Data by itself is meaningless. Information is data with meaning

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