“Lewis profiles the enchanted collaboration between Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, whose groundbreaking work proved just how unreliable our intuition could be.”
Featured in New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2017.
Israeli psychologists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman published a series of their studies, forty years ago, that blew our assumptions about how decisions are made out of the water. The studies revealed the way in which human minds systematically made mistakes when the situations were uncertain, and they had to make judgments. Thanks to these studies the field of behavioral economics came into being, Big Data was revolutionized, medicine that’s evidence-based advanced, government regulation adopted a new approach, and much of Michael Lewis’ work became possible. The trend of mistrusting human intuition and trusting algorithms can mostly be attributed to these two men.
The Undoing Project relates the story of the fascinating collaboration between Tversky and Kahneman, both of whom seem like literary giants. Both had been prominent in the Israeli military, and their work made them heroes in the field of battle and the academic halls of the universities. Their life experiences powered their research to a great extent. While Tversky was an extrovert, a self-confident and brilliant man who became the center of attention in the room, Kahneman had escaped the Nazis and was an introvert, using his self-doubt as the soil for his ideas. Theirs is considered one of the most significant partnerships in science; indeed, the two worked together so closely that neither could say which one of them had originated an idea or which of them should get credit. The two used a coin toss to decide whose name would go first on their first paper and afterward they alternated.
The story of the Undoing Project comes through in the examination of these men who were polar opposites and ideally should not have been able to work together. Nevertheless, not only did they team up, but they also changed how mankind views its mind.