Saturday, April 27, 2013

Daniel Kahneman

Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking, Fast and Slow, is a Senior Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He is also Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs Emeritus at the Woodrow Wilson School, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology Emeritus at Princeton University, and a fellow of the Center for Rationality at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

He won the 2002 Nobel Prize in economics.

From his Q & A with Jesse Singal for The Daily Beast:

It seems like overconfidence is one of the big targets of Thinking, Fast and Slow. Unfortunately, there’s some evidence that people are more drawn to those who exhibit this tendency, even when it isn’t warranted (such as political prognosticators). How do we get around our ingrained tendencies to be attracted to those who loudly proclaim easy answers?

This is most difficult where it matters the most, in running a democracy. People like leaders who look like they are dominant, optimistic, friendly to their friends, and quick on the trigger when it comes to enemies. They like boldness and despise the appearance of timidity and protracted doubt. Here, the hope for the selection of qualified leaders is in serious and critical media, but the incentives of popular media favor mirroring the preferences of the public, however misguided.

Prospects are quite a bit better for the selection of good leaders in organizations. In business enterprises as well as in politics, the more assertive and confident individuals have a big advantage, especially if they are also lucky and achieve a few early successes. But organizations are better placed to evaluate people by substantive achievements and by their contributions to the conversation. They can apply slow thinking to the selection of leaders, and they should.

Do you see any resistance to the ideas in Thinking, Fast and Slow from people who don’t want to acknowledge how error-prone the human brain can be under certain circumstances?

Amos Tversky and I encountered this kind of resistance to our early work, which was focused mostly on errors of judgment, rather than on intelligent performance. Some people chose to infer that we believed humans to be...[read on]
Learn about Kahneman's favorite experiment that demonstrates our blindness to our own blindness.

--Marshal Zeringue