**NOW: The Undoing Project – by Michael Lewis

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The Undoing Projectby Michael Lewis

Sneak Peek: The best-selling author of Liar’s Poker, The Blind Side and Moneyball shares a unique and winning relationship between two amazing thinkers who changed the way WE think…

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The Undoing Project – by Michael Lewis, published 2017, ~352 pages

What I learned from this book

I learned that once we are conditioned from childhood to go with the first thing we figure out, it’s almost as if our brain’s memory drive “wipes clean” and we subconsciously disregard any further thoughts and tend to stick with the first answer (remember the old adage: ‘go with what first comes to mind?’  It is still pretty sage advice, BUT, we must also remember that we are capable of more – capable of critical thinking and reasoning that may IMPROVE our original answer(s).

What I liked about this book

I liked the way Lewis used the real life examples of how professional athletes are “misjudged” by agents and scouting team members.  He used the case of Marc Gasol, NBA center.  He explained that Gasol was overlooked by scouts and bad-mouthed for having “man boobs” – as opposed to the Adonis-like structures of his competitive pool.  However, upon someone taking a shot (no pun intended) with Gasol, he in fact became a fine NBA center sans Playgirl cover opportunity!  This is similar to what Lewis showed in Moneyball; whereby the so-called “expert scouts” were shown to have biases that didn’t in fact translate into team results in the end.  Sometimes, the shiny apple not only may have a rotten core, but also may not help the overall team.

Also, I liked the symbiotic relationship the two researchers had in this book.  Amos Tversky was brash and accomplished, while Daniel Kahneman was reserved and introspective.  Together, they were dynamite! They didn’t care what anybody thought about the closeness of their relationship – only that they worked well together and the results of their combined efforts proved its value. That value was to provide proof that the human mind is inherently flawed and often makes errors in judgment.  The problems worsen when those errors go undetected due to our neglect. This is important because occasionally we all are guilty of misjudging or prejudging others.  It becomes critical when we do this in make or break situations (professional, scholastic, etc.)  The point is that none of us have all of the answers to each and every situation!

What I disliked about this book

It was very unfortunate that the friendship ultimately ended.  Like many we have all experienced since youth, the closest ones are the most volatile and/or vulnerable. Old insecurities rise up and we do and/or say things that can be hurtful and destructive.  It’s human nature.

However, it was nice to see that the author was able to extract information from Amos Tversky’s relative (who happened to be one of his students at UC Berkeley) – to clarify many dangling issues after Amos’ passing.

Whom would I recommend to read this book

This book is a fine read for almost all ages. Also, I recommend it for any students working in the areas of either psychology and/or behavioral economics. Of course, being a backer of Michael Lewis’ writing style, I admit I am a bit “biased.”

Any thoughts?

A.N.

 

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**NOW: Playing Hurt – by John Saunders

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Quick click: The late ESPN announcer provides in-depth revelation on his lifelong battle with depression.

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Playing Hurt – by John Saunders, published 2017, ~295 pages

What I learned from this book

I learned the same message we’ve heard from childhood that still rings true – “You never judge a book by its cover.”  Or, “Not all things (or people in this case) are as they appear.”  Who would have ever thought that the sportscaster we watched and enjoyed for so long was having such a difficult time even as we watched him?!  

John Saunders really drove home the point that we must all take a step backwards to understand the depths of depression and its effects on an individual.  It is not our place to judge or attempt to “lighten the person’s load.”  This only exacerbates the person’s condition and circumstances. Mr. Saunders explained it as the equivalent of “encouraging someone without use of their legs to get up and run around to improve your outlook on life.”  Hopefully, this is something we all should agree on NOT to do.

What I liked about this book

I liked Saunders’ transparency in detailing his entire experience.  I thought that the book would not have impacted me as much had he held back in any way.  He divulged painful details from dealings with his physically and emotionally abusive father – and an insecure, enabling mother.  The dysfunctional family is no stranger to those of us who grew up in the same era (the 1970s).

However, he managed to do his best to survive as long as he could and made a pretty decent situation out of a disastrous start.  He put to use the same courage that it takes for all of us to rise above a wall of adversity. It’s just a shame that he still ended up passing away in 2016 – still very productive at the age of 61.

What I disliked about this book

This book contains very little for the reader to dislike.  About the only thing I can think of is it was a bit repetitive in the middle section.  However, I’ll give Saunders the benefit of the doubt because he was very committed to divulging “the entirety of everything.”  We all can get a bit wordy when attempting to drive home a point to our reader, right?

Whom would I recommend to read this book

Of course the main demographic I would recommend to read this book would be those who either are suffering from depression or have loved ones who are.  Though disturbing to deal with, I agree wholeheartedly with Saunders in that mental illness is unfortunately considered a “taboo subject matter” in this world that only drives the problem underground and causes more damage than it should in the end.

Any thoughts?

A.N.

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