When to Think Quick, When to Think Slow

Monday, April 08, 2013

Daniel Kahneman, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his work in psychology and author of Thinking, Fast and Slow (now in paperback), shares his insights into the brain's two modes of thinking and what that can explain about things like jury deliberations, risk, sports streaks, and the 'irrational exuberance' of capitalists.

→ Event: Daniel Kahneman will be appearing with Joshua Foer at the Union Square Barnes and Noble tonight at 7:00 p.m

Daniel Kahneman's Quick-Thinking Riddles

(Two of the questions Daniel Kahneman uses to test quick-thinking. Answer these riddles as quickly as possible, ideally within 5 seconds)

Question 1

A bat and ball cost $1.10.

The bat costs one dollar more than the ball.

How much does the ball cost?

Question 2

Is the following argument logically valid?

All roses are flowers.

Some flowers fade quickly.

Therefore some roses fade quickly.


Daniel Kahneman

Comments [9]

Amy from Manhattan

Thanks, Julian. I didn't think it was likely--it just came to mind when I heard about slow & fast systems. I'd still like to know if there's *some* kind of interaction between slow & fast thinking or if they're entirely separate.

Apr. 08 2013 12:05 PM
Julian from Manhattan

@ Amy

No Amy, there is absolutely no parallel between fast- and slow-twitch muscle fibers and Dr.Kahneman's scheme. That IS a fact.

Apr. 08 2013 11:37 AM
amalgam from NYC by day, NJ by night

A note to Brian and the Producers -

I so appreciate the show when it deals with heavy, substantial topics, as it does today (top to bottom).


Apr. 08 2013 11:32 AM
Amy from Manhattan

On why Americans tend toward optimism about America, I'd say there's also a lot of social & political pressure. How often have we heard a politician say something like "How can my opponent suggest that the greatest country in the world"--oh, wait, sorry, now it's "in history"--"can't keep growing its economy at [some unrealistic percentage] forever?"

Apr. 08 2013 11:32 AM
Julian from Manhattan

Perhaps I should read his book, but there are a lot of statements here, advanced as fact, that really are only opinion. In Europe, gas mileage is usually represented as liters/ 100 km; I guess that's the wrong way to think about it as well, unless you divide both sides by 100? If you are interesting in figuring out cost per mile in the mpg scheme, you just have to do some math - wouldn't that be good for thinking? I don't think people just get in their cars and drive without a thought to the cost, whatever the scheme for calculating fuel efficiency is.

Apr. 08 2013 11:31 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I'd say the same thing Dr. Kahneman said about the phrasing of ballot questions is true of polling questions. I've seen some polls in which the bias of the choices presented was very clear.

Apr. 08 2013 11:24 AM
Amy from Manhattan

The idea of the 2 systems is interesting. Do they interact in any way? Is there any parallel w/fast- & slow-twitch muscle fibers?

Apr. 08 2013 11:21 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

I remember in an interview, someone asked Mrs. Thatcher, "Why did [Soviet] communism fail and she said - "because it went against human nature"

I thank her for that answer.

Apr. 08 2013 11:19 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Which is more important, thinking fast or thinking slow, or rather making decisions fast or taking time to deliberate until arriving at a decision, depends on circumstances.

In Israel, fast-thinking and quick decision-making is culturally ingrained. It doesn't matter if the decision made is right or wrong, it has to be made quick! Quick decision-making is so ingrained and highly valued there in ways that say Americans could not fathom. Because it is a very tiny, vulnerable, and densely packed country, and there is no time for deliberations. But it has also made the little country the "start up nation."

By contrast, a big strong country like America will value deliberation over speedy decision making. Everything has to be analyzed virtually to death before a decision is made. This sometimes leads to "paralysis by analysis." But there is little evidence that deliberate decision-making necessarily produces better results than snap decision-making. Still, deliberate slow thinking has served the US well, but mainly because it is so big and protected to begin with. It has the space and time to make its decisions. Israel doesn't.

It is the power of inertia versus momentum.

Apr. 08 2013 11:12 AM

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