(p. C23) Mr. Lewis has always had a knack for identifying eccentrics and horde-defiers who somehow tell us a larger story, generally about an idea that violates our most basic intuition. In “Moneyball,” he gave us Billy Beane, who rejected the wisdom of traditional baseball scouts and rehabilitated the Oakland A’s through statistical reasoning. In “The Big Short,” he gave us an assortment of jittery misfits who bet against the housing market.
In “The Undoing Project,” Mr. Lewis has found the granddaddy of all stories about counterintuition, because Dr. Kahneman and Dr. Tversky did some of the most definitive research about just how majestically, fantastically unreliable our intuition can be. The biases they identified that distort our decision-making are now so well known — like our outsize aversion to loss, for instance — that we take them for granted. Together, you can safely say, these two men made possible the field of behavioral economics, which is predicated on the notion that humans do not always behave rationally.
. . .
In a remarkable note on his sources, Mr. Lewis reveals that for years he watched Dr. Kahneman agonize over his 2011 book, “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” which became both a critical and a fan favorite. “Every few months he’d be consumed with despair, and announce that he was giving up writing altogether — before he destroyed his own reputation,” Mr. Lewis writes. “To forestall his book’s publication he paid a friend to find people who might convince him not to publish it.”
For the full review, see:
JENNIFER SENIOR . “Books of The Times; Two Men, Mismatched Yet Perfectly Paired.” The New York Times (Fri., December 2, 2016): C21 & C23.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date Dec. 1, 2016, and has the title “Books of The Times; Michael Lewis on Two Well Matched (but Finally Mismatched) Men.”)
The book under review, is:
Lewis, Michael. The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2016.