Currently reading: Thinking fast and slow

Posted: November 21, 2016, 1:38pm

One of my favorite hobbies is reading. From time to time, I’ll post a review (or a preview) of what I’m reading here on the blog. Currently, I’m flipping through a book called “Thinking fast and slow” – by Daniel Kahneman. It’s a book suggested by one of my professors here in the AME department. The book goes through two different systems of thought that our brain naturally uses during decision making. If you’re training your brain with your education (which is an investment of much time and money) you should be aware of our your brain operates. We want to take advantage of helpful hints and be aware of natural tendencies.

The book previews two systems of thought, originally developed by psychologists Keith Stanovich and Richard West (no relation here, haha!) who called each system by the names System 1 and System 2 (really creative, I know…).

Here’s a quote from the book:

“System 1 operates automatically and quickly, with little or no effort and no sense of voluntary control. System 2 allocates attention to the effortful mental activities that demand it, including complex computations. Ther operations of System 2 are often associated with the subjective experience of agency, choice, and concentration.”

A quick and easy example is here:

17 x 24

You might use System 1 thought to understand that this problem is a multiplication problem. You know instantly that it takes some effort to do the calculation (System 2) but you can decide quickly whether you want to spend mental calculation to perform the steps required to solve it. Yet, System 1 will give you quick intuition that 35 and 56,934,569 are unlikely to be the correct answers. Depending on the background noise of your environment (a loud knock on the door, for example) you’ll be less likely to use System 2 and instead resort to System 1 to address the new environment alteration.

Why is this important? I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book in order to gain some insight into your body’s ever important organ: the brain. As the author states in the Introduction, “we now understand the marvels as well as the flaws of intuitive thought.” When can we trust our intuition (system 1)? When can we not, and when do we need to press on to the energy-exerting System 2?

The book can be found on, here.



Published on July 26th, 2017

Last updated on August 10th, 2017