Yes I've read Thinking Fast and Slow. I'm posting my Goodreads review below. Kahneman won the Nobel Prize for work on a problem he calls the "illusion of validity" which he describes as ‘the sense that you understand somebody and can predict how they will behave’--this was from his own work with soldiers in Israel, trying to predict who would make good officers. After watching the work of the men who became officers he realized how poor his predictions were. He has since expanded this cognitive bias to ‘a tendency for people to view their own beliefs as reality.’
What I got out of the book is that most of us think our conscious minds are in control of our lives and that is a huge error. Kahneman describes experiment after experiment that shows that subconscious processes are at work that have a huge impact on our attitude in any given moment. For example, priming can alter your perception and actions. If I show you a yellow balloon and then ask you to name a fruit, you are much more likely to say "banana" than if I had shown you a red balloon.
One experiment I liked is something you can try right now: hold a pencil crosswise in your mouth so the point and eraser stick out towards your ears. Think about how happy you feel about your life today. Then take the pencil and put one end in your mouth so it’s sticking straight out. Think about your life now. Was there any difference in the way you felt? The experiments show that when the pencil is crosswise people are more positive than when it’s straight in because holding the pencil crosswise causes the muscles of your face to be in a grinning posture, while the other causes the muscles to form a frowning posture. Just this physical manipulation causes our minds to think differently, again without our conscious control.
Here's a quote I pulled out from the introduction to the third section of the book:
The main theme of part 3…describes a puzzling limitation of our mind: our excessive confidence in what we believe we know, and our apparent inability to acknowledge the full extent of our ignorance and the uncertainty of the world we live in. We are prone to overestimate how much we understand about the world and to underestimate the role of chance in events. Overconfidence is fed by the illusory certainty of hindsight.
The thinking fast and slow refers to what are called System 1 and System 2 in psychology.
System 1 operates automatically and quickly, with little or no effort and no sense of voluntary control. System 2 allocates attention to the most effortful mental activities that demand it, including complex computations. The operations of System 2 are often associated with the subjective experience of agency, choice, and concentration...When we think of ourselves, we identify with System 2, the conscious, reasoning self that has beliefs, makes choices, and decides what to think about and what to do. Although System 2 believes itself to be where the action is, the automatic System 1 is the hero of the book. I describe System 1 as effortlessly originating impressions and feelings that are the main source of the explicit beliefs and deliberate choices of System 2.
When you're playing tennis, System 1 is what guides you across the court and swings your arm out in a backhand move that actually makes contact with the ball. System 2 is the thought, "I hope that good-looking man/woman over there on the sidelines saw me make that awesome shot" with the plan to go over and flirt after the game. After having a thought like this, you'll probably miss the next shot.
My Goodreads review:
Dr. Kahneman gives the reader a glimpse into the latest research on the mind, revealing that a vast amount of mental processing takes place beneath the level of consciousness. Most of us believe we're the conscious author of our thoughts and behaviors, but neuroscience is showing that that belief is wrong.
Our conscious mind constantly spins stories to make sense of our own inexplicable behavior (caused by the subconscious processes) and the behavior of others, but, Dr. Kahneman informs us, "Our comforting conviction that the world makes sense rests on a secure foundation: our almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance."
Some of the information is actually frightening, like "hindsight bias," which means that we have trouble remembering the past accurately. We tend to attribute our current knowledge to our past self, and have trouble believing that we ever thought differently.
Perhaps my favorite example from the book is a study of judges in Israel who spend all day considering requests for parole. Sixty-five percent of requests for parole were granted right after the judges had eaten, dropping steadily to zero just before the judges’ next meal. If you asked the judges about their decisions, do you think they would be aware of this tendency to get grumpier as they got hungry, or do you think they would believe they were being equally neutral and fair throughout the day? I imagine the latter would be the case.
Dr. Kahneman cites other studies involving associative thinking (for example: think of “banana” and “vomit,” now try to think of a banana without feeling slightly sick) and priming (think of “yellow,” now think of “fruit”—you probably thought “banana” because you were primed with the idea of yellow). These studies, Kahneman asserts, “have yielded discoveries that threaten our self-image as conscious and autonomous authors of our judgments and our choices.”
Much of the second half of this book is an extended examination of the flaws in our decision making based on the ordinary workings of our minds. For example, the "planning fallacy" means that almost everyone creates forecasts that “are unrealistically close to best-case scenarios and could be improved by consulting the statistics of similar cases.”
We are, Dr. Kahenman concludes, "strangers to ourselves." What did I learn from this book? Be humble about what you think you know.