Book Notes: The Undoing Project
Not meant as a review, just as a repository of paragraphs I liked.
Yes, I did like the book.
“I’ve always felt that ideas are a dime a dozen,” he said. “If you had one that didn’t work out, you should not fight too hard to save it, just go find another”
… He’d been asked to divine the character of the nation’s youth. Instead he’d found out something about people who try to divine other people’s character: Remove their gut feeling, and their judgment is improved.
… “The difference between Danny and the the next 999,999 psychologists is his ability to find the phenomenon and then explain it in a way that applies to other situations.” … “It looks like luck, but he keeps doing it.”
But to Danny, useful advice, however obvious, was better than no advice at all. He asked his students to figure out what advice they would give to an Egyptologist who was having difficulty deciphering a hieroglyph. “He tells us that the guy is going slower and slower and getting more and more stuck,” recalled Daniela Gordon, a student who became a researcher at the Israeli army. “Then Danny asks ‘What should he do?’ No one could think of anything. And Danny says; “He should take a nap!’”
In his talk to historians, Amos described their occupational hazard: the tendency to take whatever facts they had observed (neglecting many facts that they did not or could not observe) and make them fit neatly into a confident-sounding story: “All too often, we find ourselves unable to predict what will happen; yet after the fact we explain what did happen with a great deal of confidence. This ‘ability’ to explain that which we cannot predict, even in the absence of any additional information, represents an important, though subtle, flaw in our reasoning”
in treating individual patients, the doctors behaved differently than they did when they designed treatments for groups of patients with the same symptoms. They were likely to order additional tests to avoid raising troubling issues, and less likely to ask if patients wished to donate their organs if they died. In treating individual patients, doctors often did things they would disagree with if they were creating public policy to to treat groups of patients with the exact same illness.
“The secret to doing good research is always to be a little underemployed. You waste years by not being able to waste hours”
“When they made decisions, people did not seek to maximize utility. They sought to minimize regret.”
After all, what is a marriage if not an agreement to distort one’s perception of another , in relation to everyone else?
The surprise was that their usage of the greater Toronto health care system declined. When homeless people felt taken care of by a hospital, they didn’t look for other hospitals that might take care of them. The homeless said, “That was the best that can be done for me.” The entire Toronto health care system had been paying a price for its attitude to the homeless.