**NOW: The Undoing Project – by Michael Lewis

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.

 

Nuclear Showdown – by Gordon Chang (publ. 2006)

Nuclear showdown: North Korea takes on the world – by Gordon G. Chang, approx. 225 pp. (publ. 2006)

 

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“Today he can hit most of the continent of Asia and even parts of the American homeland. In a few years–probably by the end of this decade–the diminutive despot will cast his shadow across the globe: He will be able to land a nuke on any point on the planet.”

Quiz: When do you think the aforementioned was said?

  1. Last week
  2. Last month
  3. Last year
  4. Several decades ago

The correct answer, believe it or not, is “D.”

It’s mind-boggling to realize that the above statement was not made describing current DPRK leader Kim Jong-Un by the present administration, but rather about his predecessor – and father – Kim Jong-Il, way back in the 1990s.  It sheds serious light on how long we have been stuck in this pattern with North Korea and its leadership.  No one in any U.S. presidential administration has been able to successfully “move the needle” at all.  The reason given has been something to the effect of “…it’s complicated.”  And, yes, it certainly is complicated.

What I liked about this book

I liked the way the author laid out the complex history of both North and South Korea and their relation to the situation we still wallow in today.  Gordon Chang clearly “did his homework” on this work – presenting all of the events that have led up to today’s standoff.

What I learned from this book

It is jaw-dropping to learn that the U.S. and Korea never formally ended the Korean War in the 1950s It has been passed around like a hot potato to each subsequent administration to “figure out” – supposedly with cooperation from border countries like China, South Korea and/or others. One thing the “historically-naïve reader” learns is that each country has differing interests in this “game.”  Unfortunately, this contributes to providing North Korea with excuses to continue to build and refine its nuclear arsenal; while creating a “ping-pong effect” of international rhetoric to its advantage.  As years turn into decades, the only outcome thus far seems to be a higher and higher probability of global nuclear annihilation.

What I disliked about this book

I disliked the fact that our leadership is still discussing the same unsuccessful tactics with the same associated countries without any real resolution.  South Korea, Japan, Russia and China have all participated in one way or another.  The entire scenario just seems wasteful, useless and irresponsible to the citizens relying on their leadership to safeguard their lives.  It gives the world an impression that leadership seems “okay” with everything continuing as is (even though we know they are not, but rather mostly puzzled as much as we are) The optics persist and continue to look really bad.

 

To whom would I recommend this book

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who lives – or plans to live – in the following place(s): any location on planet earth!

Your thoughts?

-A.N.