All posts tagged: Daniel Kahneman

Stretch Your Mind

We have an “almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance.” With that simple observation, the Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman, writing in his landmark book Thinking, Fast and Slow, gets at the heart of how we create an illusion of understanding even when our knowledge is limited or based on false information. The week after the redacted Mueller report was released to the public seems an appropriate time to explore Kahneman’s assertion.  Everywhere one turns there are those making stronger and stronger claims based on less and less factual evidence, even when those facts are clear and in the public realm.  One of the culprits is most certainly the way we now consume news. We skim or graze over news feeds from sources chosen by tech giants’ algorithms, so that we grasp only the barest of essentials run through a filter of group think. In The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone, cognitive scientists Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach argue that we vastly overestimate what we know (a point also made by Kahneman).  Quoting Sloman and …

Think Slow

Our 15-year-old nephew—a budding musician—was in town this past weekend, so I took him to the House of Musical Traditions in Takoma Park. There he could see every type of musical instrument known to humankind (plus some) and, frankly, it gave me an excuse to play a few good guitars.  Not that I don’t have good guitars at home.  Later in the day my nephew had a chance to see and play my two prized Running Dog guitars made by luthier Rick Davis. Davis was profiled in Tim Brookes’ 2005 book Guitar:  An American Life, where the author seeks to replace a badly damaged first guitar with a hand-crafted one “for the second half of my life.”  He writes that as he nears 50 years of age, he finds an itch that can only be scratched with a new guitar.  And as Brookes notes, “Guitar makers even have a word for these baby-boomers-who-always-wanted-to-be-great-guitarists-and-now-have-the-money-to-indulge-those-dreams:  dentists.” “Much later, after the guitar is finished, Rick will refer to ‘the eternal and infinite capacity of the consumer to confuse …

From the Bookshelf

Despite a busy fall schedule of work and travel, I’ve managed to finish several books that have sat on my bookshelf for various periods of time. Some are hot off the press, others have been waiting for me to pick them  up for more months than I care to admit. All were worth reading, and two were terrific finds.  So here are a few thoughts on a season’s worth of reading – beginning with the one I finished earlier this week, and working backwards from there. Lawrence in Arabia:  War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Scott Anderson. This new work on the Middle East of World War I falls in the “terrific finds” category. Obviously much has been written about the exploits of T.E. Lawrence – the famous “Lawrence of Arabia.” In this book, however, the veteran war correspondent Scott Anderson weaves in Lawrence’s story with those of three spies from the era (German Curt Prüfer, American – and Standard Oil employee – William Yale, and Zionist Aaron …