… The failure of decision makers to grapple with the inner workings of their own minds, and their desire to indulge their gut feelings, made it “quite likely that the fate of entire societies may be sealed by a series of avoidable mistakes committed by their leaders.”
(Daniel Kahneman, from a 1973/4 lecture, “Cognitive Limitations and Public Decision Making”, as referenced by Michael Lewis in The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds, p. 247, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2016)
In The Undoing Project, Michael Lewis examines how our decision-making processes are prone to systematic and predictable errors.
Lewis, best known for Moneyball and The Blind Side, is adept at exploring ideas through compelling character studies and he doesn’t disappoint here.
The spine of the narrative is the productive, yet complicated, relationship, between two Israeli psychologists, Daniel Kahneman and the late Amos Tversky. (Readers may be familiar with Kahneman’s recent discussion of their work in Thinking Fast and Slow).
Kahneman, with his capacity for self-doubt, and Tversky, with his capacity for self-assurance, together, were intellectual dynamite. Their insights into the inherent, hidden defects in our cognitive machinery continue to influence decision-making across disciplines.
Tragically, it is also a story about how blind spots in our emotional intelligence have the potential to undermine the most important relationships in our lives.
The book provides the general reader with an introduction into how the mind works (and doesn’t work) and the material will leave you feeling both exhilarated and disoriented when you contemplate the practical implications.
For the criminal lawyer, the book compels counsel to consider how to apply the ideas to improve decision-making within the justice system.