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  1. The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds
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  2. The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds

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How a Nobel Prize–winning theory of the mind altered our perception of reality.

Forty years ago, Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky wrote a series of breathtakingly original studies undoing our assumptions about the decision-making process. Their papers showed the ways in which the human mind erred, systematically, when forced to make judgments in uncertain situations. Their work created the field of behavioral economics, revolutionized Big Data studies, advanced evidence-based medicine, led to a new approach to government regulation, and made much of Michael Lewis’s own work possible. Kahneman and Tversky are more responsible than anybody for the powerful trend to mistrust human intuition and defer to algorithms.

The Undoing Project is about a compelling collaboration between two men who have the dimensions of great literary figures. They became heroes in the university and on the battlefield—both had important careers in the Israeli military—and their research was deeply linked to their extraordinary life experiences. Amos Tversky was a brilliant, self-confident warrior and extrovert, the center of rapt attention in any room; Kahneman, a fugitive from the Nazis in his childhood, was an introvert whose questing self-doubt was the seedbed of his ideas. They became one of the greatest partnerships in the history of science, working together so closely that they couldn’t remember whose brain originated which ideas, or who should claim credit. They flipped a coin to decide the lead authorship on the first paper they wrote, and simply alternated thereafter.

This story about the workings of the human mind is explored through the personalities of two fascinating individuals so fundamentally different from each other that they seem unlikely friends or colleagues. In the process they may well have changed, for good, mankind’s view of its own mind.

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Michael Lewis
Kindle Edition
Kindle eBook
W. W. Norton & Company
W. W. Norton & Company
W. W. Norton & Company
W. W. Norton & Company
Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Thanks to works like Psychonomics: The Scientific Conquest of the Human Mind, we know that the field of Behavioral Economics is a kind of wild west of the sciences, filled with speculation, outlaws, and not a little shenanigans. And yet it is by far the most fascinating and controversial science on the popular stage. The Undoing Project is the epic story of how it all came to be.

It is a story that only Michael Lewis could write. With his characteristic accessibility and knack for turning the complex into palatable pieces, Lewis presents the foundations of the science by crafting a story about its two visionary scholars, Daniel Kahneman and the late Amos Tversky.

In so doing, Lewis gives a face to the theories and ideas that we have all become so aware of in the last ten or fifteen years: The Anchoring Effect, Framing, Overconfidence Bias,... Read more
4.5 stars. Absolutely wonderful. Michael Lewis successfully blends two biographies, an intellectual love story (there really is no other way to describe the Kahneman/Tversky partnership), astute sketches of the work they did (in heuristics and biases), and how the partnership had ripple effects in a myriad of areas (from economics to psychology, from medicine to the military, and beyond). The book moves at a brisk pace, never dull, and fleshes out the men behind the scientific work. This vantage point into where Kahneman and Tversky came from, the events that shaped them, their intellectual make-ups, and the alchemy of their partnership is a real treat. This added depth to the scientists only makes me appreciate their work all the more. Highly recommended for anyone, but especially those who have read Thinking Fast, And Slow, any book on behavioral economics, or students of how human cognition leads us astray. A fantastic book that I couldn't put down.
With no doubt, I had great fun reading “The Undoing Project.”

I was introduced to the work of Tversky and Kahneman as a college sophomore in 1988 by my teacher, hydrologist Joseph Harrington, who was a great admirer of their ideas. The beauty of what is now called “Prospect Theory” has inevitably stuck with me since. It is only in retrospect that I have come to understand it was radical for its time.

So I swallowed whole “Thinking About Thinking” within a week of having read the Michael Lewis review on Bloomberg. And I’ve since really enjoyed the recent near-autobiography of Richard Thaler’s, as well as many of Dan Ariely’s books.

Well, you don’t have to believe me on this, but Michael Lewis actually explains the concepts better!

No joke, he really does.

And he provides an unbelievably deep, personal and sensitive account of the explosive relationship between the two... Read more
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