Undoing Project

Michael Lewis can tell a damn good story. And his ability to dive deep into a subject area but never lose the reader’s attention is among the best in the game. Lewis painted a brilliant picture of both Kahneman and Tversky, despite only having access to Kahneman and learning about Tversky through interviews, reading and historical material.

I first came across prospect theory in grad school, then read Thinking Fast and Slow shortly after in 2012. This book had a profound impact on me, my approach to my work as a social scientist, my worldview and my understanding of myself. In no uncertain terms, the work of Kahneman and Tversky has changed my personal and professional life since I came into contact with it. I mistrust my own decision making. I’m much more open to alternative explanations or world-views because of their work. I’ve committed myself to a career in data science in no short part because of the exposure I received through their work to behavioral economics and computational social science.

The work that Lewis describes in this book is even more compelling because it is grounded in the biographies of these extraordinary men. Their commitment to their craft, fertile collaboration over many years, and constant support of each other (in their own ways) to create better and better work is inspirational.

Of the many quotable parts of this book, the two ideas that I know will stick with me are: (1) “People are not so complicated, relationships between people are complicated” and (2) “It is easier to make the world a better place than to prove you’ve made it a better place”.