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**NOW: The Undoing Project – by Michael Lewis

FutureLearn US

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?



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After Snowden: Privacy Secrecy and Security in the Information Age

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After Snowden: Privacy, Secrecy and Security in the Information Age (by Ronald Goldfarb, Edward Wasserman, and David Cole)

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What I found most amazing about this book

I found it equally amazing and disturbing that in our constitution nothing was mentioned on the topic of ‘privacy.’ Not a word, nary a mention…NOTHING.  This is problematic because where there is no mention, there are no rules. Herein lies the premise of this book.   Because there are no rules applying to privacy, there is a tendency of the government to “stretch” the powers of information gathering in the United States and on its citizens.  When every telephone call, email, text message, Facebook post or tweet is subject to interception and interpretation (let alone, occasional misinterpretation), we find ourselves sort of cast at sea without a paddle.  This is causing us to question everything that is going on for the purpose of “security.”  Those who have questioned these policies and practices have done so because they feel it is the most sensible thing to do and that we have the right as citizens to know.  It is a subject that will be debated over for years to come!

What I DIDN’T like about this book

I cannot find much to dislike about this book.  I suppose the only thing I could say is that I wish the people in charge of some of the covert programs that are currently in operation would take a moment to seriously reevaluate the potential long term damage this may be causing to the American people.  I would also like to for them to be more forthright concerning what our rights are turning into during the Information Age.  I imagine that they have some ideas, but are hesitant to share because of the anticipated backlash (or, perhaps they just don’t feel we need to know).  Regardless, I just think it might be better for us all in the long haul. Constant paranoia and pessimism is probably not a healthy state of mind in the nation’s big picture.  I think it’s fair to say that George Orwell (author of 1984 and the ‘big brother’ concept) is probably doing somersaults in his grave.

Whom would I recommend to read this book?

I would certainly encourage anyone and everyone to read this book.  No age is either too young or unsophisticated to realize that most of our ‘technological engagements’ – from smartphone calls, texts, Facebook and Twitter posts, and simple emails ALL may be subject to review and even more.  We may think that we don’t have any “friends” that are under surveillance, but THEY may have second or third degree “friends” who MIGHT BE.  So, if we are all just fine with the likelihood of falling prey to unwanted surveillance – like Edward Snowden, Bradley (a.k.a. “Chelsea”) Manning and others have claimed) – then perhaps we are overreacting.  If we’re not fine with this, then perhaps we’re not overreacting one bit.

Any thoughts?