So one of my goals of the year is to read at least 3 non-fiction books this year.
As someone who only enjoys reading fiction, non-fiction pushes me out of my comfort zone so three is just about all I might manage!
A book that was recommended by various FIRE people was ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ by Daniel Kahneman, so I picked this up at my local library.
I’ll be blunt and shall say that I really did not enjoy reading this book.
I thought the writing was soooooo tedious, far too academic and far too long – an eye-glazing textbook.
It was a struggle and I found that I could only read/only wanted to read a few pages at a time, which didn’t sit well with me, as I usually enjoy reading chapters for hours at a time.
I don’t like to give up on books – I know some people think that life is too short for books you don’t enjoy. I started reading it in May, it’s dragged on til now and I ended up paying a library fine.
Despite the above, I thought that the topics covered by Kahneman were absolutely fascinating!
That’s the annoying thing about this book – I was really interested in the experiments and some of the theory and history, it just wasn’t an easy read by any stretch of the imagination.
One of the book’s aims is to “improve the ability to identify and understand errors of judgement and choice, in others and eventually ourselves…” and indeed, after toiling and slogging through the pages, I did learn about or rather increase my awareness of decision-making.
What did it cover?
There’s an interesting chapter titled ‘The Illusion of Stock-Picking Skill’ – one for those who think they can beat the market – which covered things like halo effects and regression to mean.
There’s been recent mention of cognitive biases and the book touches on these, which might have me looking at my FIRE plans again as it seems most people (and I include myself) are prone to these biases, such as:
- Optimism Bias, which includes underestimating costs and duration of projects we undertake – will definitely be looking at my spreadsheets again!
- Confirmation Bias, where we look only for info to confirm what we already think/believe, whilst ignoring any info (even if true) which contradicts our view – perhaps I shouldn’t dismiss the views of FIRE naysayers so quickly…
- Availability Bias, where continued exposure to things can affect your judgement/thoughts – has being in the FIRE bubble/community lulled me into thinking that what I’m doing is a probability rather than a possibility?
Another topic covered was that most people underestimate the role of chance in events. Fortunately, I believe very much in luck and chance, being a bit of a gambler (still).
The piece on loss aversion was particularly interesting especially as I could directly apply it to how I feel with my matched betting and also with my investments.
Lots of other interesting stuff covered, such as anchoring effects, stereotyping, how experiences and memories differ and the rise in use of algorithms in decision making (uh oh, robots taking over!)
Some of this stuff I would very much like to read more on, starting with this great piece titled ‘Your Lying Mind‘ which the Monevator kindly brought to my attention this week.
Anyway, I’m so relieved to have gotten the book out of the way – only two other non-fiction books to get through now although I will try to choose something a lot friendlier to read!
Please ignore the negativity at the start of this post – that’s just me struggling with my general aversion to non-fiction! I do recommend this book as it’s got some great insights, some interesting stuff on how people can get swayed in their decision-making and it does make you think.
Oh and I was finally able to update my book bingo card again – yay!