Cover of book The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds (Signed Edition)

The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds (Signed Edition)

by: Michael Lewis

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71 Highlights | 5 Notes
  • He suggested a new definition of the nerd: a person who knows his own mind
  • A scout watching a player tended to form a near-instant impression, around which all other data tended to organize itself. “Confirmation bias,” he’d heard this called.
  • You saw someone who reminded you of you, and then
  • “I do remember that my mother saw the horrors coming long before he did—she was the pessimist and the worrier, he was sunny and optimistic.”
  • “Amos thought people paid an enormous price to avoid mild embarrassment,” said his friend Avishai Margalit, “and he himself decided very early on it was not worth it.”
    Note: Seneca, stoicism, macus surelius - practice criticism practice embarrasment, practice
  • “The nice thing about things that are urgent,” he liked to say, “is that if you wait long enough they aren’t urgent anymore.”
  • “They’ve already taken my money,” he’d explain. “Should I give them my time,
  • too?”
  • He didn’t accept social responsibility—and so graciously, so elegantly, didn’t accept it.”
  • The philosopher tested his theories of human nature on a sample size of one—himself.
  • “You never discussed art,” recalls Avishai Margalit. “You discussed people. It was a constant thing, a constant puzzle: What makes
  • others tick?
  • Amos liked to say that stinginess was contagious and so was generosity, and since behaving generously made you happier than behaving stingily, you should avoid stingy people and spend your time only with generous ones.
  • The reigning theories in psychology of how people made judgments about similarity all had one thing in common: They were based on physical distance.
  • “The directionality and asymmetry of similarity relations are particularly noticeable in similes and metaphors,”
  • how quickly he moved on from his enthusiasms, how easily he accepted failure. It was as if he expected it. But he wasn’t afraid of it. He’d try anything.
  • He thought of himself as someone who enjoyed, more than most, changing his mind.
  • “Reforms always create winners and losers,” Danny explained, “and the losers will always fight harder than the winners.” How did you get the losers to accept change?
    Note: Trump, backlash of the flyover states, rise of the underdog, immigrant mentality?
  • paper, written by Harvard psychologist George Miller, which showed that people had the ability to hold in their short-term memory seven items, more or less.
  • To this, Shapira recalled, Danny added his own twist. “He says you only tell them a few things—and get them to sing it.” Danny loved the idea of the “action song.” In
  • “Someone once said that education was knowing what to do when you don’t know,” said one of his students. “Danny took that idea and ran with it.”
  • Teach someone how to teach someone else how to play the game.
    Note: Teach Mitra how to teach her friend how to codeTeach Mitra how to teach xxyyz how to cookTeach Mitra how to teach others how to livehow to teach her to teach others ...how to teach mitra to teach her friend how to read
  • “The trick was to break it down into the component skills—learning how to hold your hand steady, learning how to tilt slightly to the right, and so on—then teach them separately and then, once you’d taught them all, put them together.”
  • But to Danny, useful advice, however obvious, was better than no advice at all.
  • Everywhere one turned, one found idiocies that were commonly accepted as truths only because they were embedded in a theory to which the scientists had yoked their careers.
  • After the seminar, he treated theories that he had more or less accepted as sound and plausible as objects of suspicion.
  • People mistook even a very small part of a thing for the whole. Even statisticians tended to leap to conclusions from inconclusively small amounts of evidence.
  • The psychologists had so much faith in small samples that they assumed that whatever had been learned from either group must be generally true, even if one lesson seemed to contradict the other.
  • statistics. The power of the pull of a small amount of evidence was such that even those who knew they should resist it succumbed.
  • If the mind, when it was making probabilistic judgments about an uncertain world, was not an intuitive statistician, what was it?
  • If human judgment was somehow inferior to simple models, humanity had a big problem:
  • At a very young age, Amos had recognized a distinction within the class of people who insisted on making their lives complicated. Amos had a gift for avoiding what he called “overcomplicated” people.
  • way the creative process works is that you first say something, and later, sometimes years later, you understand what you said.
  • In a funny way, they didn’t even want themselves in the room. They wanted to be the people they became when they were with each other.
  • Work, for Amos, had always been play: If it wasn’t fun, he simply didn’t see the point in doing it. Work now became play for Danny, too.
  • They had to play, at least in the beginning, by the rules of the academic game, and in that game it wasn’t quite respectable to be easily understood.
    Note: Game. It's all invented. So why not invent your own rules to step into the world of possibility? - The Art of Possibility
  • When people make judgments, they argued, they compare whatever they are judging to some model in their minds. How much do those clouds resemble my mental model of an approaching storm?
  • The more easily people can call some scenario to mind—the more available it is to them—the more probable they find it to be.
  • “In assessing the profit of a given company, for example, people tend to assume normal operating conditions and make their estimates contingent upon that assumption,” they wrote in their notes.
  • What people did in many complicated real-life problems—when trying to decide if Egypt might invade Israel, say, or their husband might leave them for another woman—was to construct scenarios. The stories we make up, rooted in our memories, effectively replace probability judgments.
  • Amos liked to say that if you are asked to do anything—go to a party, give a speech, lift a finger—you should never answer right away, even if you are sure that you want to do it. Wait a day, Amos said, and you’ll be amazed how many of those invitations you would have accepted yesterday you’ll refuse after you have had a day to think it over.
    Note: Amazing. Experiment
  • Amos’s rule, whenever he wanted to leave any gathering, was to just get up and leave. Just start walking and you’ll be surprised how creative you will become and how fast you’ll find the words for your excuse, he said.
  • Unless you are kicking yourself once a month for throwing something away, you are not throwing enough away, he said.
  • Man is a deterministic device thrown into a probabilistic Universe In this match, surprises are expected Everything that has already happened must have been inevitable
  • “Evidently, people respond differently when given no specific evidence and when given worthless evidence,” wrote Danny and Amos. “When no specific evidence is given, the prior probabilities are properly utilized; when worthless specific evidence is given, prior probabilities are ignored.”*
  • Man’s inability to see the power of regression to the mean leaves him blind to the nature of the world around him. We are exposed to a lifetime schedule in which we are most often rewarded for punishing others, and punished for rewarding.
  • It confirmed Biederman’s sense that “most advances in science come not from eureka moments but from ‘hmmm, that’s funny.’”
  • “You need to be so careful when there is one simple diagnosis that instantly pops into your mind that beautifully explains everything all at once. That’s when you need to stop and check your thinking.”
  • It wasn’t that what first came to mind was always wrong; it was that its existence in your mind led you to feel more certain than you should be that it was correct.
  • To acknowledge uncertainty was to admit the possibility of error.
  • Just because the patient is better after I treated him doesn’t mean he got better because I treated him,
  • them. Alive to the fallibility of his memory, he carried a notepad wherever he went and wrote down thoughts and problems as they occurred to him. When awakened late at night by a phone call from the hospital, he always lied and told the fast-talking resident on the other end of the line that they had a bad connection, and so he needed to repeat everything he had just said.
  • The difference between being very smart and very foolish is often very small.
  • The secret to doing good research is always to be a little underemployed. You waste years by not being able to waste
  • hours.
  • It is sometimes easier to make the world a better place than to prove you have made the world a better place.
  • He might then compare the pleasure they anticipated to the pleasure they experienced, and further compare the pleasure they experienced to the pleasure they remembered.
  • As Redelmeier put it, “Last impressions can be lasting impressions.”
  • “It is the anticipation of regret that affects decisions, along with the anticipation of other consequences.” Danny thought
  • “What might have been is an essential component of misery,’” he wrote to Amos.
  • When they made decisions, people did not seek to maximize utility. They sought to minimize regret.
  • The desire to avoid loss ran deep, and expressed itself most clearly when the gamble came with the possibility of both loss and gain. That is, when it was like most gambles in life.
  • wrote Amos and Danny. “It reflects a general property of the human organism as a pleasure machine. For most people, the happiness involved in receiving a desirable object is smaller than the unhappiness involved in losing the same object.”
  • The first was the realization that people responded to changes rather than absolute levels. The second was the discovery that people approached risk very differently when it involved losses than when it involved gains.
  • A loss, according to the theory, was when a person wound up worse off than his “reference point.” But what was this reference point? The easy answer was: wherever you started from. Your status quo.
  • The reference point was a state of mind. Even in straight gambles you could shift a person’s reference point and make a loss seem like a gain, and vice versa. In so doing, you could manipulate the choices people made, simply by the way they were described.
  • People did not choose between things. They chose between descriptions of things.
  • “The idea that it could make you better off to reduce your choices—that idea was alien to economics,” he said.
  • After all, what is a marriage if not an agreement
  • to distort one’s perception of another, in relation to everyone else?
  • He established this private rule for his imagination once he realized that, after he had fantasized about something that might actually happen, he lost his drive to make it happen. His fantasies were so vivid that “it was as if you actually had it,” and if you actually had it, why would you bother to work hard to get it?