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Noise: The new book from the authors of ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ and ‘Nudge’ Paperback – 19 May 2021
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- Publisher : HarperCollins GB (19 May 2021)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 464 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0008309000
- ISBN-13 : 978-0008309008
- Dimensions : 15.3 x 3.6 x 23.4 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 14 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
The Sunday Times bestseller (May 2021)
‘A tour de force of scholarship and clear writing’
New York Times
‘This is a monumental, gripping book. It is also bracing … The three authors have transformed the way we think about the world. They have looked beneath and beyond the way we make decisions and organise our lives. A follow-up of sorts to Thinking, Fast and Slow, it is a further step down the road towards a more complex and realistic grasp of human affairs that is replacing the crude simplifications of the recent past. Outstanding’
‘As you’d expect from its authors, it is a rigorous approach to an important topic… There’s lots to surprise and entertain. Anyone who has found the literature on cognitive biases important will find this a valuable addition to their knowledge’ Danny Finkelstein, The Times
‘Noise is everywhere and is seriously disruptive. The authors have come up with a bold solution. The book is a satisfying journey through a big but not unsolvable problem, with plenty of fascinating case studies along the way. Humans are often bad at making decisions. But we can get better’
Martha Gill, Evening Standard
‘The greatest source of ineffective policies are often not biases, corruption or ill-will, but three “I”: Intuition, Ignorance and Inertia. This book masterfully demonstrates why the three “I” are so pervasive, and what we can do to fight them. An essential, eye opening read’
Esther Duflo, winner of a 2019 Nobel Prize
‘In Noise, the authors brilliantly apply their unique and novel insights into the flaws in human judgment to every sphere of human endeavour… Noise is a masterful achievement and a landmark in the field of psychology’
Philip E. Tetlock, co-author of Superforecasting
‘An electrifying exploration of the human mind, this book will permanently change the way we think about the scale and scope of bias’
The new book from the authors of ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ and ‘Nudge’
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Top reviews from other countries
And so to Noise, a book, we are told that is designed to offer suggestions for the improvement of human judgement. As for Noise itself we are told in the book that that noise is about statistical thinking. We are also told that noise is a distinct source of error and that "the scatter in the forecasts is noise" and, that whenever we observe noise we should work to reduce it. However, we are also told that noise is invisible and embarrassing.
Noise occurs because people are idiosyncratic; they inhabit different psychological spaces; their moods are triggered by a unique set of contexts - they see and respond to the evidence in different ways. Not to mention their unconscious response to particular cues. (In many respects - seemingly the same things that trigger biases, and we are told rather confusingly that "psychological biases create system noise when many people differ in their biases.") We enter a convoluted vortex - biases cause noise - where there is noise (invisible) there will surely also be more biases at work - the two, it seems, exist in relationship that is characterised by their mutual and continuous interruption of each other. And there is actually no clear sense given as to how one should go about unpicking them.
Surprise surprise the authors pay passing homage to prediction markets, of which they say; "much of the time prediction markets have been found to do very well.") Prediction markets, in the wild (outisde of organisations) have not actually performed very well at all - because they lack insiders and do nothing more than aggregate noise. Their record on political events over the past ten years has been terrible (In the recent Chesham and Amersham By-Election in the UK, for example, the Tories were trading at 1.17 on the Betfair Betting Exchange as Polls opened - they lost). A better example, in the context of noise would have been horse racing betting markets - which contain lots of noise and bias, but which display a consistent ability to be predictive - because of the presence of insiders, who cancel out the noise.
Sadly it seems that we have gone back twenty years, to the notion of the jar of sweets and the benefits of aggregating independent judgements. In a nutshell, this book is about 380 pages too long.
I have no issue with the authors doing consultancy work, but to read this entire remarkable book thinking that I was the secondary audience was quite a challenge.
The spotlight on 'noise' was brilliant, as were many of the analysis on what noise was, how it was measured, and how it was assessed.
'Thinking, Fast and Slow' was so brilliant because it felt like it was pitched at me. This book read like they hoped Silicon Valley middle management would pick up the phone.
I've waited years for another Kahneman book, but it really blew by me. The actual research and differentiation around noise from bias was fascinating, but could have filled a much smaller book or academic paper. The bulk of the book signals to Wall Street to get in touch.