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Nobel laureate and frequent Freakonomics visitor Daniel Kahneman (author of Thinking, Fast and Slow) has written an open letter to psychologists who work on social priming, calling for them “to restore the credibility of their field by creating a replication ring to check each others’ results.” Here’s an excerpt:
My reason for writing this letter is that I see a train wreck looming. I expect the first victims to be young people on the job market. Being associated with a controversial and suspicious field will put them at a severe disadvantage in the competition for positions. Because of the high visibility of the issue, you may already expect the coming crop of graduates to encounter problems. Another reason for writing is that I am old enough to remember two fields that went into a prolonged eclipse after similar outsider attacks on the replicability of findings: subliminal perception and dissonance reduction.
(HT: BPS Research Digest)
Two weeks ago, we solicited your questions for Princeton psychology professor and Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman, whose new book is called Thinking, Fast and Slow. You responded by asking 45 questions. Kahneman has answered 22 of them in one of the more in-depth and wide-ranging Q&A’s we’ve run recently. It’s a great read. As always, thanks for your questions, and thanks to Daniel Kahneman for taking the time to answer so many of them.
Q. Now that we understand reason as being largely unconscious, motivated by emotion, embodied and constituted by many biases and heuristics, where do you see the future of cognitive science going? Are we at the beginning stages of a paradigm shift? -McNerney Read More »
One of the first times I met Danny Kahneman was over dinner, just after SuperFreakonomics was published. Shortly after we were introduced, Danny said, “I enjoyed your new book. It will change the future of the world.” I beamed with pride at this compliment. Danny, however, was not done speaking. “It will change the future of the world. And not for the better.” While I’m sure many people would agree with his last sentence, he was the only person who ever said it to my face!
If you don’t know the name, Danny Kahneman is the non-economist who has had the greatest influence on economics of any non-economist who ever lived. A psychologist, he’s the only non-economist to win the Nobel Prize in Economics, for his pioneering work in behavioral economics. I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that he is among the 50 most influential economic thinkers of all time, and among the ten most influential living economic thinkers. Read More »
Among the hundreds of interesting ideas in the book, there is one that I simply can’t get out of my head. Referring to how our minds work, Kahneman writes that not only are we sometimes “blind to the obvious,” but also we are “blind to our blindness.” For me, that one sentence summarizes a fundamental insight of his life’s work.
It’s one of those simple insights which is obvious when you think about it, but somehow incredibly easy to forget when mesmerized by the happenings of everyday life, leading to poor decision making.
Coming up with a good name for a problem is often an important part of coming up with a solution. So I’m thankful to Kahneman for planting the phrase “blind to my own blindness” in my brain. The next time I’m about to mindlessly make a terrible choice, I’m hoping that phrase will forcefully interject itself into my internal dialogue, causing me to think more clearly about my decision.
More likely, it will only be after the fact that I become aware that I was blind to my own blindness in a particular setting. At least I’ll have a succinct way of beating myself up.
[MUSIC: Russell L. Howard III, “Get Busy”] Stephen DUBNER: Hey, Nate? Nate SILVER: Hey. DUBNER: Hey, it’s Stephen Dubner, how’s it going? SILVER: Good. Good to talk to you. DUBNER: First off, just tell us in 60 seconds or less, what you actually do now in a given day. SILVER: So I am the editor-in-chief […] Read More »
This is a transcript of the Freakonomics Radio podcast “The Maddest Men of All“ [MUSIC: Pearl Django, “Almost Home” (from Collected Original Compositions)] Rory SUTHERLAND: I’m Rory Sutherland. I’m the vice chairman of Ogilvy and Mather in the U.K. Stephen J. DUBNER: Now, that is a pretty impressive title. But we should say that you […] Read More »
This is a transcript of the Freakonomics Radio podcast “Hacking the World Bank” [MUSIC: The Diplomats of Solid Sound, “Soul Slaw” (from Instrumental, Action, Soul)] Stephen J. DUBNER: Back in 2012, Jim Yong Kim was minding his own business, carrying out his duties as president of Dartmouth College. He was in his third year there. Then […] Read More »
How to Think About Money, Choose Your Hometown, and Buy an Electric Toothbrush: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast
Our latest podcast is called “How to Think About Money, Choose Your Hometown, and Buy an Electric Toothbrush.” (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player in the post. You can also read the transcript below; it includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.) It’s another installment of our FREAK-quently Asked Questions, in which Stephen Dubner and Steve Levitt answer questions from you, our readers and listeners.
Steve Reda, a 22-year-old in the Washington, D.C., area, asks if kids today are more careful using credit as opposed to cash. (It’s a question that makes Dubner recall his salad days, back when he fell in love with economics and the “mental accounting” research done by Richard Thaler, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky.) This leads to a conversation about spending in general, which leads to Levitt’s counterintuitive advice for the youth of today (advice passed down from Milton Friedman to José Scheinkman and on to Levitt): Read More »