Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Book Bench: Is Self-Knowledge Overrated? : The New Yorker

Excerpt from a thoughtful review of Thinking Fast and Slow

It’s impossible to overstate the influence of Kahneman and Tversky. Like Darwin, they helped to dismantle a longstanding myth of human exceptionalism. Although we’d always seen ourselves as rational creatures—this was our Promethean gift—it turns out that human reason is rather feeble, easily overwhelmed by ancient instincts and lazy biases. The mind is a deeply flawed machine.

Nevertheless, there is a subtle optimism lurking in all of Kahneman’s work: it is the hope that self-awareness is a form of salvation, that if we know about our mental mistakes, we can avoid them. One day, we will learn to equally weigh losses and gains; science can help us escape from the cycle of human error.

The Book Bench: Is Self-Knowledge Overrated? : The New Yorker

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