Tim Harford

Book Review – Thinking Better: The Art of the Shortcut, by Marcus du Sautoy

16th august, 2021.

In 1786, in a classroom in Braunschweig, near Hanover, a bored schoolmaster in need of a nap set his pupils the tedious task of adding up every number between 1 and 100. Before the master could even lean back in his chair, one boy strode forward and placed his slate on the front desk. Ligget se, he casually declared. There it is. And there it was: 5050. Carl Friedrich Gauss, at the age of nine, had announced his mathematical genius to the world. Marcus du Sautoy begins his book about shortcuts not with the story, but with the story of the story. Du Sautoy explains that he, like Gauss, was a schoolboy sitting in a maths class when his teacher told the tale (which has been heavily embellished over the years) and explained that mathematics was “the art of the shortcut”. 1 + 100 = 101 2 + 99 = 101 3 + 98 = 101 Once you see that there are 50 pairs of numbers, each summing to 101, the answer — 5050 — is not far away. At this moment a new vision of mathematics opened up for du Sautoy, “the ability to see structure in our mind’s eye without physically encountering it”. Mathematical shortcuts offer easy ways to solve difficult puzzles, or the mass production of solutions so that a problem need only be solved once to unlock every similar problem. Du Sautoy is a gifted and tireless mathematical communicator with considerable range — his Brief History of Mathematics was masterful radio, and I’ve seen him compère concerts of classical music, interspersing the pieces with discussions of the mathematical patterns in Mozart and Bach. In Thinking Better , he pauses between each mathematical chapter to interview experts in many domains, hoping to gain the secret to shortcuts in learning a language (he once studied Russian) or mastering the cello (Du Sautoy is a keen trumpeter). These interludes are pleasant enough but feel distant from the mathematical ideas in the book. Virtuoso Natalie Clein explains that the secret to mastering the cello is endless, focused practice; no surprise there. A champion memoriser opines that if du Sautoy wants to improve his Russian, he needs repetition and testing — or, more promisingly, a Russian lover. The joy of du Sautoy’s book isn’t really the art of the real-world shortcut at all. It is the romp through mathematical ideas The reader who desires plausible shortcuts to real-life mastery might pick up a copy of Robert Twigger’s Micromastery , which advocates focus (to learn to cook, first learn to make a truly superlative omelette). Algorithms to Live By , by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths, pulls surprising practical insights out of mathematical techniques — using computer science to explain how to sort your bookshelves, search for a new apartment, or organise piles of paper on your desk. In contrast, the joy of du Sautoy’s book isn’t really the art of the real-world shortcut at all. It is the romp through mathematical ideas, from place value to non-Euclidean geometry to probability theory. He finishes with “NP-complete” problems, an important field in modern computing. A pithy explanation of what they are eludes me, but du Sautoy’s own description is the best I’ve seen: they’re “needle in a haystack” problems, because while it is very hard to find the needle, if you suspect you have succeeded it is very easy to check. He frames this as a chapter about problems for which there seem to be no shortcuts, and ranges from quantum computing to problem-solving by slime moulds. He even includes the surprisingly difficult challenge of calculating which teams are still in with a mathematical prospect of winning the Premier League. (It was much easier when only two points were awarded for a win, rather than three, because the total number of points awarded in each game did not change.) At times the reader needs to concentrate hard, because du Sautoy doesn’t shy away from equations or challenging ideas. He is, however, always a model of clarity. There are vivid historical examples of scientists and others using mathematical ideas to solve problems, from Eratosthenes calculating the circumference of the Earth to Florence Nightingale deploying data visualisation to make a powerful argument about public health. Columbus, Galileo, Alan Turing and Samuel Pepys all make appearances. Many of the stories and examples — beginning with Gauss’s alleged feat of calculation — will be familiar to people who enjoy popularisations of mathematics. Du Sautoy’s mash-ups of art, music and mathematics have sometimes pushed the boundaries of mathematical popularisation in unusual directions, but here he mostly plays it straight. This is a “greatest hits” of mathematical ideas presented with trademark clarity and energy.

Written for and first published in the Financial Times on 3 August 2021.

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Thinking Better: The Art of the Shortcut in Math and Life

One of the world's great mathematicians shows why math is the ultimate timesaver—and how everyone can make their lives easier with a few simple shortcuts.

We are often told that hard work is the key to success. But success isn’t about hard work – it’s about shortcuts. Shortcuts allow us to solve one problem quickly so that we can tackle an even bigger one. They make us capable of doing great things. And according to Marcus du Sautoy, math is the very art of the shortcut. Thinking Better  is a celebration of how math lets us do more with less. Du Sautoy explores how diagramming revolutionized therapy, why calculus is the greatest shortcut ever invented, whether you must really practice for ten thousand hours to become a concert violinist, and why shortcuts give us an advantage over even the most powerful AI. Throughout, we meet artists, scientists, and entrepreneurs who use mathematical shortcuts to change the world. Delightful, illuminating, and above all practical,  Thinking Better  is for anyone who has wondered why you should waste time climbing the mountain when you could go around it much faster.

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Thinking Better

The Art of the Shortcut in Math and Life

Thinking Better

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By Marcus Du Sautoy

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  • Mathematics
  • One of Bloomberg 's "49 Most Fascinating, Mind-Blowing, Challenging, Hilarious, and Urgent Titles of the Year" for 2021 Matteo del Fante, Bloomberg
  • “Du Sautoy is a gifted and tireless mathematical communicator with considerable range… This is a ‘greatest hits’ of mathematical ideas presented with trademark clarity and energy .” Tim Harford, The Financial TImes
  • "The joy of this book is not in the facts but in the journey . Du Sautoy expertly weaves mathematical strategies, historical background and accessible examples into an engaging narrative that a seasoned scientist can enjoy as much as someone with less maths in their background/" Nina Meinzer, Nature Physics
  • “[Marcus du Sautoy is] one of the great contemporary popularizers of mathematics. In print, radio, and television, he is known for spreading the gospel that mathematics is endlessly interesting and a great deal of fun. His latest book,  Thinking Better , is a prime example of his ability to communicate with a broad audience… As always, Du Sautoy opens the world of mathematics for those who are at least a little curious about what it offers.”   MAA Focus
  • " I can warmly recommend mathematicians and non-mathematicians alike to read this very entertaining reflection on many different disguises of the shortcut." Adhemar Bultheel, MAA Reviews
  • “Du Sautoy masterfully guides readers through complex math … All the while, he’s encouraging about the importance of problem-solving: ‘Mathematics is a mindset for navigating a complex world and finding the pathway to the other side.’ Math-minded readers will find much to consider.” Publishers Weekly
  • “In Thinking Better , Oxford mathematician Marcus Du Sautoy pulls back the curtain to show how mathematicians think. The result is an engaging, delightful adventure through a variety of situations where mathematical thinking – in particular, the search for clever shortcuts – illuminates deeper mathematical truths. And it turns out these short cuts are incredibly useful for the rest of us too!” David Schwartz, author of The Last Man Who Knew Everything
  • “If mathematics has proved anything, it is that shortcuts can change the world. Marcus du Sautoy has created a smart, well-written and entertaining guide to the connecting tunnels, underpasses and other tricks we can use to traverse the trials of everyday life.”  Roger Highfield, journalist and author of The Dance of Life
  • “This is a book about shortcuts that takes no shortcut. It is chock-full of thought-provoking examples, ranging from the mathematical to the sociological.” Melissa Franklin, Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics, Harvard University
  • “Marcus du Sautoy compellingly answers the age-old plaint 'When am I going to use this?' with a wide-ranging tour of the real uses of mathematically-flavored thinking, in domains from the stock market to psychotherapy to modern sculpture." Jordan Ellenberg, New York Times-bestselling author of Shape

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By Jim Holt

  • Nov. 25, 2011

In 2002, Daniel Kahneman won the Nobel in economic science. What made this unusual is that Kahneman is a psychologist. Specifically, he is one-half of a pair of psychologists who, beginning in the early 1970s, set out to dismantle an entity long dear to economic theorists: that arch-rational decision maker known as Homo economicus. The other half of the dismantling duo, Amos Tversky, died in 1996 at the age of 59. Had Tversky lived, he would certainly have shared the Nobel with Kahneman, his longtime collaborator and dear friend.

Human irrationality is Kahneman’s great theme. There are essentially three phases to his career. In the first, he and Tversky did a series of ingenious experiments that revealed twenty or so “cognitive biases” — unconscious errors of reasoning that distort our judgment of the world. Typical of these is the “anchoring effect”: our tendency to be influenced by irrelevant numbers that we happen to be exposed to. (In one experiment, for instance, experienced German judges were inclined to give a shoplifter a longer sentence if they had just rolled a pair of dice loaded to give a high number.) In the second phase, Kahneman and Tversky showed that people making decisions under uncertain conditions do not behave in the way that economic models have traditionally assumed; they do not “maximize utility.” The two then developed an alternative account of decision making, one more faithful to human psychology, which they called “prospect theory.” (It was for this achievement that Kahneman was awarded the Nobel.) In the third phase of his career, mainly after the death of Tversky, Kahneman has delved into “hedonic psychology”: the science of happiness, its nature and its causes. His findings in this area have proved disquieting — and not just because one of the key experiments involved a deliberately prolonged colonoscopy.

“Thinking, Fast and Slow” spans all three of these phases. It is an astonishingly rich book: lucid, profound, full of intellectual surprises and self-help value. It is consistently entertaining and frequently touching, especially when Kahneman is recounting his collaboration with Tversky. (“The pleasure we found in working together made us exceptionally patient; it is much easier to strive for perfection when you are never bored.”) So impressive is its vision of flawed human reason that the New York Times columnist David Brooks recently declared that Kahneman and Tversky’s work “will be remembered hundreds of years from now,” and that it is “a crucial pivot point in the way we see ourselves.” They are, Brooks said, “like the Lewis and Clark of the mind.”

Now, this worries me a bit. A leitmotif of this book is overconfidence. All of us, and especially experts, are prone to an exaggerated sense of how well we understand the world — so Kahneman reminds us. Surely, he himself is alert to the perils of overconfidence. Despite all the cognitive biases, fallacies and illusions that he and Tversky (along with other researchers) purport to have discovered in the last few decades, he fights shy of the bold claim that humans are fundamentally irrational.

Or does he? “Most of us are healthy most of the time, and most of our judgments and actions are appropriate most of the time,” Kahneman writes in his introduction. Yet, just a few pages later, he observes that the work he did with Tversky “challenged” the idea, orthodox among social scientists in the 1970s, that “people are generally rational.” The two psychologists discovered “systematic errors in the thinking of normal people”: errors arising not from the corrupting effects of emotion, but built into our evolved cognitive machinery. Although Kahneman draws only modest policy implications (e.g., contracts should be stated in clearer language), others — perhaps overconfidently? — go much further. Brooks, for example, has argued that Kahneman and Tversky’s work illustrates “the limits of social policy”; in particular, the folly of government action to fight joblessness and turn the economy around.

Such sweeping conclusions, even if they are not endorsed by the author, make me frown. And frowning — as one learns on Page 152 of this book — activates the skeptic within us: what Kahneman calls “System 2.” Just putting on a frown, experiments show, works to reduce overconfidence; it causes us to be more analytical, more vigilant in our thinking; to question stories that we would otherwise unreflectively accept as true because they are facile and coherent. And that is why I frowningly gave this extraordinarily interesting book the most skeptical reading I could.

System 2, in Kahneman’s scheme, is our slow, deliberate, analytical and consciously effortful mode of reasoning about the world. System 1, by contrast, is our fast, automatic, intuitive and largely unconscious mode. It is System 1 that detects hostility in a voice and effortlessly completes the phrase “bread and. . . . ” It is System 2 that swings into action when we have to fill out a tax form or park a car in a narrow space. (As Kahneman and others have found, there is an easy way to tell how engaged a person’s System 2 is during a task: just look into his or her eyes and note how dilated the pupils are.)

More generally, System 1 uses association and metaphor to produce a quick and dirty draft of reality, which System 2 draws on to arrive at explicit beliefs and reasoned choices. System 1 proposes, System 2 disposes. So System 2 would seem to be the boss, right? In principle, yes. But System 2, in addition to being more deliberate and rational, is also lazy. And it tires easily. (The vogue term for this is “ego depletion.”) Too often, instead of slowing things down and analyzing them, System 2 is content to accept the easy but unreliable story about the world that System 1 feeds to it. “Although System 2 believes itself to be where the action is,” Kahneman writes, “the automatic System 1 is the hero of this book.” System 2 is especially quiescent, it seems, when your mood is a happy one.

At this point, the skeptical reader might wonder how seriously to take all this talk of System 1 and System 2. Are they actually a pair of little agents in our head, each with its distinctive personality? Not really, says Kahneman. Rather, they are “useful fictions” — useful because they help explain the quirks of the human mind.

To see how, consider what Kahneman calls the “best-known and most controversial” of the experiments he and Tversky did together: “the Linda problem.” Participants in the experiment were told about an imaginary young woman named Linda, who is single, outspoken and very bright, and who, as a student, was deeply concerned with issues of discrimination and social justice. The participants were then asked which was more probable: (1) Linda is a bank teller. Or (2) Linda is a bank teller and is active in the feminist movement. The overwhelming response was that (2) was more probable; in other words, that given the background information furnished, “feminist bank teller” was more likely than “bank teller.” This is, of course, a blatant violation of the laws of probability. (Every feminist bank teller is a bank teller; adding a detail can only lower the probability.) Yet even among students in Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, who had extensive training in probability, 85 percent flunked the Linda problem. One student, informed that she had committed an elementary logical blunder, responded, “I thought you just asked for my opinion.”

What has gone wrong here? An easy question (how coherent is the narrative?) is substituted for a more difficult one (how probable is it?). And this, according to Kahneman, is the source of many of the biases that infect our thinking. System 1 jumps to an intuitive conclusion based on a “heuristic” — an easy but imperfect way of answering hard questions — and System 2 lazily endorses this heuristic answer without bothering to scrutinize whether it is logical.

thinking better book review

Kahneman describes dozens of such experimentally demonstrated breakdowns in rationality — “base-rate neglect,” “availability cascade,” “the illusion of validity” and so on. The cumulative effect is to make the reader despair for human reason.

Are we really so hopeless? Think again of the Linda problem. Even the great evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould was troubled by it. As an expert in probability he knew the right answer, yet he wrote that “a little homunculus in my head continues to jump up and down, shouting at me — ‘But she can’t just be a bank teller; read the description.’ ” It was Gould’s System 1, Kahneman assures us, that kept shouting the wrong answer at him. But perhaps something more subtle is going on. Our everyday conversation takes place against a rich background of unstated expectations — what linguists call “implicatures.” Such implicatures can seep into psychological experiments. Given the expectations that facilitate our conversation, it may have been quite reasonable for the participants in the experiment to take “Linda is a bank clerk” to imply that she was not in addition a feminist. If so, their answers weren’t really fallacious.

This might seem a minor point. But it applies to several of the biases that Kahneman and Tversky, along with other investigators, purport to have discovered in formal experiments. In more natural settings — when we are detecting cheaters rather than solving logic puzzles; when we are reasoning about things rather than symbols; when we are assessing raw numbers rather than percentages — people are far less likely to make the same errors. So, at least, much subsequent research suggests. Maybe we are not so irrational after all.

Some cognitive biases, of course, are flagrantly exhibited even in the most natural of settings. Take what Kahneman calls the “planning fallacy”: our tendency to overestimate benefits and underestimate costs, and hence foolishly to take on risky projects. In 2002, Americans remodeling their kitchens, for example, expected the job to cost $18,658 on average, but they ended up paying $38,769.

The planning fallacy is “only one of the manifestations of a pervasive optimistic bias,” Kahneman writes, which “may well be the most significant of the cognitive biases.” Now, in one sense, a bias toward optimism is obviously bad, since it generates false beliefs — like the belief that we are in control, and not the playthings of luck. But without this “illusion of control,” would we even be able to get out of bed in the morning? Optimists are more psychologically resilient, have stronger immune systems, and live longer on average than their more reality-based counterparts. Moreover, as Kahneman notes, exaggerated optimism serves to protect both individuals and organizations from the paralyzing effects of another bias, “loss aversion”: our tendency to fear losses more than we value gains. It was exaggerated optimism that John Maynard Keynes had in mind when he talked of the “animal spirits” that drive capitalism.

Even if we could rid ourselves of the biases and illusions identified in this book — and Kahneman, citing his own lack of progress in overcoming them, doubts that we can — it is by no means clear that this would make our lives go better. And that raises a fundamental question: What is the point of rationality? We are, after all, Darwinian survivors. Our everyday reasoning abilities have evolved to cope efficiently with a complex and dynamic environment. They are thus likely to be adaptive in this environment, even if they can be tripped up in the psychologist’s somewhat artificial experiments. Where do the norms of rationality come from, if they are not an idealization of the way humans actually reason in their ordinary lives? As a species, we can no more be pervasively biased in our judgments than we can be pervasively ungrammatical in our use of language — or so critics of research like Kahneman and Tversky’s contend.

Kahneman never grapples philosophically with the nature of rationality. He does, however, supply a fascinating account of what might be taken to be its goal: happiness. What does it mean to be happy? When Kahneman first took up this question, in the mid 1990s, most happiness research relied on asking people how satisfied they were with their life on the whole. But such retrospective assessments depend on memory, which is notoriously unreliable. What if, instead, a person’s actual experience of pleasure or pain could be sampled from moment to moment, and then summed up over time? Kahneman calls this “experienced” well-being, as opposed to the “remembered” well-being that researchers had relied upon. And he found that these two measures of happiness diverge in surprising ways. What makes the “experiencing self” happy is not the same as what makes the “remembering self” happy. In particular, the remembering self does not care about duration — how long a pleasant or unpleasant experience lasts. Rather, it retrospectively rates an experience by the peak level of pain or pleasure in the course of the experience, and by the way the experience ends.

These two quirks of remembered happiness — “duration neglect” and the “peak-end rule” — were strikingly illustrated in one of Kahneman’s more harrowing experiments. Two groups of patients were to undergo painful colonoscopies. The patients in Group A got the normal procedure. So did the patients in Group B, except — without their being told — a few extra minutes of mild discomfort were added after the end of the examination. Which group suffered more? Well, Group B endured all the pain that Group A did, and then some. But since the prolonging of Group B’s colonoscopies meant that the procedure ended less painfully, the patients in this group retrospectively minded it less. (In an earlier research paper though not in this book, Kahneman suggested that the extra discomfort Group B was subjected to in the experiment might be ethically justified if it increased their willingness to come back for a follow-up!)

As with colonoscopies, so too with life. It is the remembering self that calls the shots, not the experiencing self. Kahneman cites research showing, for example, that a college student’s decision whether or not to repeat a spring-break vacation is determined by the peak-end rule applied to the previous vacation, not by how fun (or miserable) it actually was moment by moment. The remembering self exercises a sort of “tyranny” over the voiceless experiencing self. “Odd as it may seem,” Kahneman writes, “I am my remembering self, and the experiencing self, who does my living, is like a stranger to me.”

Kahneman’s conclusion, radical as it sounds, may not go far enough. There may be no experiencing self at all. Brain-scanning experiments by Rafael Malach and his colleagues at the Weizmann Institute in Israel, for instance, have shown that when subjects are absorbed in an experience, like watching the “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” the parts of the brain associated with self-consciousness are not merely quiet, they’re actually shut down (“inhibited”) by the rest of the brain. The self seems simply to disappear. Then who exactly is enjoying the film? And why should such egoless pleasures enter into the decision calculus of the remembering self?

Clearly, much remains to be done in hedonic psychology. But Kahneman’s conceptual innovations have laid the foundation for many of the empirical findings he reports in this book: that while French mothers spend less time with their children than American mothers, they enjoy it more; that headaches are hedonically harder on the poor; that women who live alone seem to enjoy the same level of well-being as women who live with a mate; and that a household income of about $75,000 in high-cost areas of the country is sufficient to maximize happiness. Policy makers interested in lowering the misery index of society will find much to ponder here.

By the time I got to the end of “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” my skeptical frown had long since given way to a grin of intellectual satisfaction. Appraising the book by the peak-end rule, I overconfidently urge everyone to buy and read it. But for those who are merely interested in Kahneman’s takeaway on the Malcolm Gladwell question it is this: If you’ve had 10,000 hours of training in a predictable, rapid-feedback environment — chess, firefighting, anesthesiology — then blink. In all other cases, think.

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

By Daniel Kahneman

499 pp. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. $30

A review on Nov. 27 about “Thinking, Fast and Slow” erroneously attributed a distinction to the book’s author, Daniel Kahneman, who won the Nobel in economic science in 2002. His being a psychologist was indeed unusual but did not make his award “unique in the history of the prize.” Another psychologist, Herbert A. Simon, won the award in 1978. (Simon, a polymath and interdisciplinarian, was also an economist, a political scientist and a sociologist.)

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Jim Holt’s new book, “Why Does the World Exist?,” will be published next spring.

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7 of the best smart thinking books to read in 2024

Mathematician Marcus du Sautoy reveals the seven best books to help you think smarter and make mathematically better decisions.

My new book celebrates the power of mathematical thinking to get you to your goal successfully without hours of laborious mind-numbing labour. It's your shortcut to 2,000 years of clever shortcuts that mathematicians like myself have come up with to navigate the most efficient path to your destination.

Of course, while I was writing Thinking Better: The art of the shortcut ( £20, Fourth Estate ), I read a good few books. Here's a list of those that were the most influential in my journey to find the smartest ways of thinking.

For more smart reading choices to add to your 'to be read' list, check out Science Focus 's list of best science books . For younger readers, pick one of these best science books for kids .

The best smart thinking books to read this year

Thinking fast and slow.

thinking better book review

Daniel Kahneman

The human brain uses two mechanisms to tackle problems. System 1, or 'fast thinking', is our intuitive reaction to solving a problem. But as Kahneman documents this often leads to mistakes. Instead the human species has developed system 2, which is a slower more analytical approach.

But I called my latest book Thinking Better because I didn’t think that system 2 thinking had to be slow. Mathematics is full of clever analytical ways of thinking that that can get you quickly to the correct solution.

A Mathematician’s Apology

thinking better book review

This book was the beginning of my own journey to learn the art of the shortcut – an art which my comprehensive school teacher liked to call mathematics. This was one of the books he recommended I read to get a glimpse of how beautiful and powerful the mathematical way of thinking can be.

Hardy's 1940 essay includes, for example, a proof that there are infinitely many prime numbers in just a few finite lines of argument. That you can navigate to infinity along a finite path blew my mind as a kid.

Gauss: A biographical study

thinking better book review

W.K. Bühler

One of the stories that my teacher told the class to illustrate the power of mathematical thinking was the tale of how the young Carl Friedrich Gauss found a clever way to add up the numbers from 1 to 100.

Rather than starting at the beginning and gradually adding each new number, he combined the beginning and the end of the sum in pairs: 1+100=101, 2+99=101,3+98=101… Fifty pairs of numbers adding up to 101. So the total is 50x101=5050.

I ended up using Gauss as a useful companion in Thinking Better , because he has a hand in many of the shortcuts that I talk about. He truly is the master of the mathematical shortcut.

Doughnut Economics: Seven ways to think like a 21st-Century economist

thinking better book review

Kate Raworth

Diagrams are a powerful shortcut in mathematics and science to isolate the essential quality of a structure. I was particularly struck by how Raworth uses diagrams in her own work as an economist to challenge economic orthodoxy.

In my book, I have included what I call pitstops between the chapters, where I interview people in other professions about their own clever ways of thinking – I was intrigued to see whether their shortcuts were versions of mathematical shortcuts or new tricks that I might learn from.

As I write in the 'Economics' pitstop, I am a big fan of Raworth’s book. Partly because the doughnut (or torus as we call the shape in mathematics) is one of my all-time favourite shapes, and not just because it is delicious to eat but because the mathematics of this shape is fascinating.

Mountains of the Mind: Adventures in reaching the summit

thinking better book review

Robert Macfarlane

There are some professions where it is impossible to shortcut the hard work needed to get to your destination. International cellist Nathalie Clein explained to me how she can’t get away without doing the hours of practice it requires to play the Bach suites. Anything that requires changing the body takes time.

Robert Macfarlane told me how taking a shortcut to the top of a mountain defeats the point of the challenge of climbing these peaks. Although he did tell me about how he once used an avalanche as a clever shortcut to get off a mountain quickly before he was benighted. Macfarlane’s desire to take time over walking from A to B illustrates that not all work is bad. Indeed Aristotle highlighted two types of work: praxis, which is work done for its own sake, and poiesis, work aimed at the production of something useful.

Fully Automated Luxury Communism: A manifesto

thinking better book review

Aaron Bastani

The goal of the new political movement fully automated luxury communism is that menial work is taken away from humans and done by machines, leaving time for us to indulge in work we find meaningful. Work becomes a luxury.

The cultivation of good shortcuts should be added to the list of technologies steering us towards a future of work that is undertaken for the joy of it rather than as a means to an end.

The Creativity Code: : How AI is learning to write, paint and think

thinking better book review

Marcus du Sautoy

It may seem cheeky to add one of my own books into the mix, but my new book Thinking Better is a companion to my previous book highlighting the power of AI.

A journalist who interviewed me about The Creativity Code was so depressed by the end of our conversation. He asked, was there anything left for humanity?

To cheer him up I suggested that our desire to avoid hard boring laborious work, our idleness, has actually been the motivation for us coming up with better ways of thinking. A computer doesn’t get tired and is happy to number crunch its way from 1 to 100. It was Gauss’s laziness that pushed him to come up with a shortcut to the answer.

Review of Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

  • Behavioral Science
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Industrial/Organizational Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior

This is a photo of the cover of Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

As a card-carrying member of the biases-and-heuristics crowd of the behavioral decision research field, these are the questions I have continually been asked over the years, despite my belief that they were answered conclusively long ago. In accepting an invitation to review Thinking, Fast and Slow ( TFS ) by Daniel (Danny) Kahneman, I anticipated getting a comprehensive and clear response to these decades-old questions. Instead, TFS provides an assessment and integration that goes far beyond these early, comparatively simple questions.

I have followed Danny’s work closely since my days as a graduate student, have discussed many issues about the field with him, and even had the opportunity to co-teach a decision-making course with him to executives at a major corporation. Yet despite having followed Danny’s work quite closely, I feel TFS is a much more complex book than I anticipated: It provides an integrated tale that could easily have been broken down into three different books. One book would describe the broad psychology underlying the judgment and decision-making field. A second book would provide a contemporary history of the field through the eyes of its leading scholar. The third book would offer a set of snapshots of Danny’s personal journey.

The field of behavioral decision research has proven to be remarkably robust, demonstrating effects that have had profound influences on economics, finance, marketing, medicine, law, and negotiation, among other applied fields. Behavioral decision research has diffused to other academic areas faster than any topic in the history of psychology. And Danny has been recognized with the Nobel Prize in Economics, among many other well-deserved awards. But for the past 35 years, one ongoing criticism of the behavioral decision research field, particularly the work focusing on heuristics and biases, is that it doesn’t offer enough detail about the psychological mechanisms underlying the fascinating effects it documents. This tension about the nature of the field, and about the nature of evidence needed for journal publication, may be partially responsible for behavioral decision research developing more in professional schools than in psychology departments in recent years. (Of course, there are other explanations as well.) Then, with so much of the field drifting away from psychology departments, there was less of a push for researchers to explain the underlying psychological mechanisms. Answering the many questions about psychological mechanisms underlying behavioral decision research is at the core of TFS , and these answers represent the first of the three books specified above.

For more on Daniel Kahneman read his recent New York Times article Don’t Blink! The Hazards of Confidence and David Brooks’ New York Times opinion piece Who You Are profiling Kahneman’s life.

In the early history of the field, many judgment and decision-making researchers were content to demonstrate these interesting and important effects along with their impact, their generalizability, and (surprisingly for work coming out of psychology) the need to redefine traditional neoclassical model of economics as a result of Kahneman and Tversky’s results. Yet TFS is not defensive in responding to psychologists’ criticisms that behavioral decision researchers have ignored the mechanisms and psychological processes underlying these effects. Rather, Danny provides a history of the “demonstration approach” that he and Amos Tversky developed and perfected, starting in 1969 in Israel. He provides vivid details of how he and Amos would set about looking for biases in their own judgments, then he describes how they sought to develop demonstration projects to show that the effects were robust. But he also conveys a concern for the underlying mechanisms as a source for understanding the demonstrations that they were providing, a concern that often did not show up in their early writing. TFS makes it clear that Kahneman and Tversky had these questions on their minds when developing their amazing demonstrations. And TFS also clarifies that we now know a tremendous amount about the underlying mechanisms for the effects in the behavioral decision research field, often based on mechanisms that we did not formally understand when Kahneman and Tversky published their 1974 Science paper (e.g., priming, automaticity).

As an example of their early search for psychological mechanisms, TFS documents Kahneman and Tversky’s early discussions about the mechanism underlying the anchoring phenomenon. Tversky viewed the underlying process as one of anchoring and insufficient adjustment — the view that prevailed in the years following their famous 1974 paper in Science . In contrast, Kahneman argued for a priming explanation, where an anchor leads to a biased search for relevant data. But, as critics have observed, little process evidence appeared in their early work. Rather than being defensive about this, TSF gives credit to Epley, Gilovich, Leboeuf, and Shafir for later showing that Tversky’s anchoring-and-adjustment explanation was correct, and then credits Mussweiler and Strack for later showing that Kahneman was also right about priming. As Kahneman writes in TFS , “it is now clear that Amos and I were both right. Two different mechanisms produce anchoring effects…” (p. 120).

TFS also provides a comprehensive and integrated treatment of the role that two different cognitive systems play in explaining our judgments and decisions, adopting Stanovich and West’s System 1 and System 2 distinction. Danny explains that System 1 thinking, or the intuitive reactions and quick judgments that we rely on for most decisions, is also the process that leads to far greater biases in judgment. He also documents recent advances in how System 2, our more deliberative thought processes, can be used to dampen the negative effects of our intuitive judgments. In doing so, Kahneman clarifies a structure for understanding the processes and mechanisms that can explain when biases are most likely to appear and when we need to apply our System 2 processes to the problem at hand.

The second “book within a book” focuses on Danny’s version of the history of the field. We are presented with a nice overview of how early work focused on demonstrating biases, with Slovic, Lichtenstein, and Fischhoff playing important roles in the story. TFS then explains how behavioral decision research diffused into many scholarly and policy realms (with much credit given to Thaler and Sunstein for their amazing book, Nudge , 2008). Yet it is clear that Danny’s assessment of the current state of the field is now intimately connected to the System 1/System 2 distinction.

The third book within a book, which recounts Danny’s personal intellectual journey, with many reflections on his collaboration with Tversky, provides the glue that turns TFS into a compelling story. We will apparently learn far more about this partnership, as there are rumors that journalist Michael Lewis is working on a book on how Kahneman and Tversky’s collaboration has changed the world. But, for now, Kahneman’s version is very rewarding, and nicely connects the other two books in the process.

This summary is far too brief to capture the complexity of TFS , and there are many insights outside the structure of this review. For example, TFS develops Danny’s current view that both expertise and heuristics are sources of intuition, and this development presents intuition in a much more positive light than many people would expect from Danny. But, to see all of the developments in Danny’s current views of the field, a careful reading of TFS is required; this short review cannot do TFS justice.

As I think about key publications in the field of behavioral decision making, I think about March and Simon’s 1958 book; I think of papers Kahneman and Tversky published in 1974, 1979, and 1981; I think of Thaler and Sunstein’s 2008 guide on using behavioral decision research to make the world a better place; and I will now think about Kahneman’s 2011 statement on the history and current status of the field.

thinking better book review

Thanks Max, I just wanted to say I enjoyed your analysis and opinions – especially the conclusion.

thinking better book review

Hands down, one of the best books in its genre.

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman is a lengthy, self-conscious and a challenging read but highly recommended if you’re interested in why human beings behave the way they behave. It’s given me so much ‘oh snap, so that’s why we’re so dumb’ moments that at this point I don’t even want to admit I’m a human to any space-time traveling race that comes in collision of 21st century Earth.

thinking better book review

I am not a psychologist and am not even very well educated, but have been listening carefully to this book the last few days early in the morning when I can concentrate with no distractions. I am pondering the Julie character that could read at 4. We were called upon to calculate her GPA in college. We had only been told she could read fluently at 4. As a dad I can recall reading to my son at that age. It was repetitive reading and my son became familiar with the situations and words through repetition. I too have applied this in my study of Chinese while living in China the past 5 years.

Max tells us we have two different minds, which I buy into. furthermore, he tells us we are quick to rely on our intuition instead of considering all of the facts behind statistics. This I also agree with.

This is where my problem lies. I have no idea what Julie is reading? It is probably not Tolstoy. More than likely it was something commensurate with her young age. By association this is logical. Max even calls it association.

A child that can pick up any book and read it is impressive and they are also likely to be exceedingly mature for their age, but I think this example is very poor and violates all the principle of objectivity he has taught us in his own book. If my slow thinking mind makes comparisons and is sceptical then it tells me I lack a full complete picture . Therefore making an estimate is not feasible. Please feel free to enlighten me.

thinking better book review

The Julie example is exactly as you stated. You can scale her reading at age four on the college GPA scale ,but not predict her GPA based on the information of her reading ability at age four.

thinking better book review

Thinking, fast and slow is a lifetimes effort of the most influential psychologist alive Daniel Kahneman. He has, in every way made sure that there could possibly never be a better book written on decision making by humans. The theme of the book is simple, that is we humans not as rational as we imagine ourselves to be and our decisions are influenced by so many different things than we can ever imagine.

thinking better book review

This book spends some 4-5 hundred pages to review the author’s life-work. At the bottomline is the conclusion that given access to statistical methods and the time necessary to apply them we can arrive at more reliable conclusions than by the instinctive guesses that people usually apply in their daily decision making. This isn’t a lot of genuine ideas to ponder about but, could be a good read if the book were written shorter and more dedicated to the reader than the author’s consciousness of his selfimportance. On the other hand, if you are rather interested in the detailed history of the author’s research than in a coherent narrative of human thinking processes, this book is a must have for you.

thinking better book review

There is very little science in FST. This includes Kahnemann’s random examples of bias verus intuition. We are asked to accept his axioms at face value. For example, he states, a sign above a bin at a grocery store saying “limit 5 per customer” will lead to faster sales. This is not substantiated. Or, reading a billboard on a highway is supposedly a “fast thinking” phenomenon. It depends on the billboard, I would say. I will make the statement: there are very few axioms in Economic theory that are axiomatic. Please keep in mind, two Nobel Laureates in Economics, in 2013, had fundamentally competing arguments about the nature of markets!

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About the Author

Max H. Bazerman is a APS Fellow and Charter Member Max Bazerman is the Jesse Isidor Straus professor of business administration at Harvard University. He was previously on the faculty of the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University for 15 years. Bazerman's research focuses on decision making, negotiation, creating joint gains in society, and the natural environment.

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Elizabeth Tenney, an associate professor of management at The University of Utah, discusses her research into overconfidence and biases that influence our social interactions and decisions.

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18 Books That'll Train Your Brain and Improve Your Thinking

Meg Prater (she/her)

Updated: November 28, 2018

Published: November 27, 2018

Wish there were a gym for your brain? Your muscles need exercise to increase energy, strength, and dexterity -- and so does your brain.

brain-training-books

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Reading, puzzles, and other mental activities improve memory and learning capacity so you process information more efficiently. Ready to see how much it benefits your performance at work? Find your favorite books below and get started.

Check out our key takeaways from the best sales books of all time

Books That Increase Intelligence

  • "Tactical Thinking: 50 Brain-Training Puzzles to Change the Way You Think"
  • "Train Your Brain"
  • "Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain"
  • "How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens"

1. " Tactical Thinking: 50 Brain-Training Puzzles to Change the Way You Think "

Charles phillips.

Work puzzles created to develop and train your intellect. From warm-up exercises to advanced "simulators," your brain will get a real workout.

Review: Unavailable

2. " Train Your Brain "

Terry horne and simon wootton.

Practical exercises, puzzles, games, and tests help you develop intelligence and a healthier lifestyle.

Review : "Very thoughtful. It helps you to explore your potential ... no matter your age"

3. " Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain "

Steven levitt and stephen dubner.

Learn to think productively, creatively, and rationally. This book offers readers a new way to solve problems -- from minor lifehacks to major global reform.

Review : "I love anything that smacks around my thinking and turns it in new directions -- and this book did exactly that."

4. " How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why it Happens "

Benedict carey.

Learn how our brains absorb and retain information so you can proactively flex neural muscles and make deep learning possible.

Review : "A very interesting book with so many references to learning better and retaining what we learn for a longer period of time."

Books to Stimulate the Mind

  • "The Sherlock Holmes Puzzle Collection"
  • "Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long"
  • The Power of Habit
  • Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

5. " The Sherlock Holmes Puzzle Collection "

John watson.

This playful book's riddles, puzzles, and teasers get your mind moving as only Sherlock and Watson can.

Review : "It is a fun book that's intriguing for all -- not just Sherlock Holmes fans."

6. " Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long "

This book explains why our brains feel overloaded at times. And it shares strategies for staying calm, making good decisions, and boosting mental capabilities.

Review : "Rock's work ... is a godsend to those of us who don't have a PhD but want to take advantage of the work pioneers in SCAN are doing."

7. " The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business "

Charles duhigg.

Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Charles Duhigg argues the key to achieving success is understanding how habits work.

Review : "The information in this book is simply life changing."

8. " Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking "

Malcolm gladwell.

Learn that great decision making isn't about time spent deliberating -- it's about knowing which filters matter.

Review : "This book is an excellent resource, explaining the power of thin slicing and the concept that most people call intuition."

Best Books on Memory Techniques

  • "Train Your Brain for Success: Read Smarter, Remember More, and Break Your Own Records:
  • "Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything"
  • "Train Your Brain: 60 Days to a Better Brain"
  • "Unlimited Memory: How to Use Advanced Learning Strategies to Learn Faster, Remember More, and Be More Productive"

9. " Train Your Brain for Success: Read Smarter, Remember More, and Break Your Own Records "

This collection of time-tested recipes might seem banal at first glance, but they work effectively -- even if you don't think your memory needs a boost.

Review : "This book has really helped me improve my career and personal life. I'm more deliberate with my day, accomplishing more than I ever expected."

10. " Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything "

Joshua foer.

This book describes the 12 months the author spent trying to understand his memory. Learn about the brain's internal mechanisms, natural protections, hidden potential, and training techniques.

Review : "This book not only captivates but conveys a well-rounded history and impact of memory."

11. " Train Your Brain: 60 Days to a Better Brain "

Ryuta kawashima.

Japanese scientist and neuroscience specialist Ryuta shares his 60-day program of simple logic challenges that stimulate "gray cells."

Review : "I definitely feel an improvement in the movement of my thoughts. The exercises keep you current on your sharpness of mind, and you understand that without challenge your power of thought will weaken instead of strengthen."

12. " Unlimited Memory: How to Use Advanced Learning Strategies to Learn Faster, Remember More, and Be More Productive "

Kevin horsley.

Gain tools, strategies, and techniques for improving your memory by learning how to concentrate at will, store and recall useful information, and eliminate wasted time.

Review : "Mr. Horsley gives you clear and detailed methods that will help you improve your memory. The book is very well written, with exercises and examples of different techniques that guide you along the way."

Books to Expand Your Knowledge

  • "The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible  Self"
  • "Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends on it"
  • "Thinking, Fast and Slow"

13. " The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self "

Dr. alex lickerman.

Dr. Lickerman explains how to rebuild your mind, face problems, and see challenges as a source of strength.

Review : "The book ... has expanded my perception and understanding on how we experience difficulties in life."

14. " Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends on It "

Everyone is born curious. This book explores why only some of us retain habits of exploring, learning, and discovering as we age.

Review : "This is a thought-provoking read. It invited me to look at how I seek information."

15. " Thinking, Fast and Slow "

Daniel kahneman.

Nobel prize-winning economist Kahneman explains the mind and its two systems that drive the way we think. Learn how to tap into the benefits of slow thinking, and find out when you can and cannot trust your intuition.

Review : "This book is easy to read and strikes an impressive balance; It preserves much of the evidence and logic found in his academic works, but presents the information in an approachable narrative."

Best Books for Calming the Mind

  • "Calm Your Mind: Break the Cycle of Anxiety, Stress, Unhappiness, Exhaustion, and Find Peace in a Rushed World"
  • "It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work"
  • "Calm the Chaos Journal: A Daily Practice for a More Peaceful Life"

16. " Calm Your Mind: Break the Cycle of Anxiety, Stress, Unhappiness, Exhaustions, and Find Peace in a Rushed World "

Steven schuster.

This book calls for choosing to focus on mindfulness to reduce stress and anxiety and improve focus and productivity. It shares mindfulness best practices and key principles, and encourages readers to focus on conscious living rather than unconscious worrying.

Review : " I love that Steven's books are so easy to follow. He gives real-life everyday examples on how to apply his techniques. I also appreciate the fact that he always puts a challenge out there for his readers! T his book in particular helped me to understand various new techniques of mindfulness, which can be used to overcome any stress or anxiety issues. It is helping me in developing more focus on work without worrying much. Steve has put enough research work into this book and the reference material is in itself a treasure."

17. " It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work "

Jason fried and david heinemeir hansson.

This book, written by two of Basecamp's co-founders, offers a new path for working more effectively to build what they refer to as "the calm company."

Their radical approach subverts the modern signals of success -- the hustle, long hours, and a lack of sleep -- in favor of a company culture and leadership that support calm, mindfulness, and self-care in order to reduce chaos and anxiety amongst themselves and their employees.

Review : "[ F] or those in positions of power, this book shows it does not have to be a trade off between accomplishing something great and having a life outside work. I get that this is an uphill battle as popular culture celebrates the grinders, hustlers ... the blood sweat and tears that people wear as a badge of honor. As the book title suggest, there's a calmer way. This book shows it can be yes and , not either/or . Yes you can be effective at work, become rich, leave a dent in this universe and have a life outside it. Your legacy can be you left a trail of happy, healthy humans who genuinely thought of you as a good boss or manager. You're happier. They're happier. You can see your family, friends, and so can they. That seems pretty good to me, even if you don't accomplish your mission of saving the whales."

18. " Calm the Chaos Journal: A Daily Practice for a More Peaceful Life "

Nicole ries taggart.

This one isn't technically a book -- it's a journal. But this journal, specifically designed to help people with chaotic daily lives feel more calm, contains prompts and suggestions to encourage calm, foster self-care, and let the little things go.

This could be a good addition to your early morning or evening routine to get you into the right headspace at the beginning or end of a busy workday, and it gives you a chance to reflect instead of react in the moment.

Review : " I've been using this journal every night since I received it. It's been helping me to prioritize how I spend my time and how to manage my feelings of wanting to "do it all" with something more balanced. I especially appreciate the section about planning the next day: waking up with an intention and plan to handle anticipated issues in a calm, thought-out manner has helped me to ease those frantic feelings of everything moving too fast. Plus, the beautiful design is wonderful to work with!"  

Give your brain the workout it craves, and see tangible improvements in your everyday performance. What do you have to lose?

Want more? Read our list of some of the best sales books for beginners .

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Think Better

The last book from my ‘vacation reading list” is Think Better: An Innovator’s Guide to Productive Thinking by Tim Hurson . Some of you may remember a brief mention of this book in a post titled “ Critical Thinking vs Creative Thinking “.

This is a very interesting book full of great information….kudos go to the author for writing in a style that is engaging and easy to read.

The premise of the book is to stop trying to think ‘creatively’ or ‘critically’….start thinking productively. The author introduces the “ Productive Thinking Model ” that helps to combine and balance both creative thinking and critical thinking.

This model is made up of six steps, which are outlined below.

Step 1: What’s going on?

In this step, you are encouraged to answer five questions to get a feel for what issue you are trying to resolve.  These questions are:

  • What’s the Itch? This question helps you determine what needs to be fixed or improved.
  • What’s the Impact? This question makes you think about how the issue is affecting you.
  • What’s the Information? This question forces you to examine the information that you have about the issue to determine if you have enough information to address the issue.
  • Who’s Involved? This question takes a look at the stakeholders and what might be at stake for each one.
  • What’s the Vision? This question helps you make the switch from ‘what is’ to ‘what might be’ by asking things like “What would the future look like if the issue is resolved?”

Step 2: What’s Success?

Using the Vision developed in Step 1, begin to think about the future if the issue is resolved.  Begin to imagine what life would be like with the problem solved.  Once you’ve got a good feel for how life might change, you would then create a list specific, measurable outcomes.

Step 3: What’s The Question?

In step 3, you begin to develop the questions that must be answered in order to reach the vision of success that you developed in Steps 1 & 2. During this step, you rephrase each issue/problem as a question to help your subconscious understand there is something ‘to work on’.  An example conversion given as the Problem Statement “ We don’t have enough budget” can be converted to the Problem Question “How might we increase our budget?”. During this step, you would try to generate as many problem questions as possible….you want a long long list.  Once you’ve exhaustively listed your questions, you can then begin to narrow them down to the two key questions that would have the most impact on the issue.

Step 4: Generate Answers

This is where you generate the ideas to answer the questions created in step 3.  You again create a very long list of answers and then sift through them looking for the most ideal and promising answers.

Step 5: Forge the Solution

This step is where you take your most promising answers from step 4 and develop them into a robust solution.

Step 6: Align Resources

This final step requires you to identify the necessary steps and resources for implementing your solution. In addition, you ensure that all implementation steps are assigned to a designated resource who will be held accountable for their implementation.

With these six steps, the author has provided a framework for thinking more productively.    The key throughout all six steps is to keep an open mind at all times.  Do not criticize ideas.  Do not discard ideas.  By keeping an open mind, you’ll be amazed at how many ideas you are able to generate.

If you are the least bit interested in the topic of creative/critical thinking, go buy this book.

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thinking better book review

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Thinking Better: A Revolutionary New Program to Achieve Peak Mental Performance

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David Lewis

Thinking Better: A Revolutionary New Program to Achieve Peak Mental Performance Hardcover – January 1, 1984

  • Print length 312 pages
  • Language English
  • Publisher Rawson Assoc
  • Publication date January 1, 1984
  • ISBN-10 0892561688
  • ISBN-13 978-0892561681
  • See all details

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Rawson Assoc; First Edition (January 1, 1984)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 312 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0892561688
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0892561681
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.14 pounds
  • #1,258 in Study Skills (Books)
  • #2,343 in Cognitive Psychology (Books)
  • #4,134 in Medical General Psychology

About the author

David lewis.

Having obtained my first degree (BSc.Hons) I went to the Department of Experimental Psychology, at the University of Sussex, to read for a doctorate.

After qualifying as a clinical psychologist and psychopathologist, that is someone who studies mental illness, I founded a registered, UK, charity to help people with stress and anxiety problems. More recently I have set-up a not-for-profit website www.askdrdavid.co.uk on which I provide free guidance and answer questions sent in by visitors.

Over the past years, I have published more than 30 books on psychological topics, most of which can be purchased from Amazon or Amazon resellers. I have also appeared in numerous television and radio programmes on psychological and medical topics, including Secret Eaters and Embarrassing Bodies (C4).

I am very interested in exploring the psychology behind historical events, especially relating to the rise of Fascism and Hitler in the 1930s. My latest book, Triumph of the Will? How Two Men Hypnotised Hitler and Changed the World, has just been published. You can learn more at www.triumphofthewill.info

My other, recent, books include: Impulse - Why We Do What We Do Without Knowing Why We Do it (Random House); The Brain Sell - When Science Meets Shopping (Nicholas Brealey) and Fat Planet - The Obesity Trap and How to Avoid It (With Dr Margaret Leitch) (Random House).

I live with my partner and four lovely dogs, not far from Brighton on the South Coast of England, and am Chairman of Mindlab International, an independent research laboratory based at the University of Sussex.

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thinking better book review

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COMMENTS

  1. Thinking Better: The Art of the Shortcut in Math and Life

    October 18, 2021. Thinking Better is a history of how shortcuts have opened our eyes to better, and faster, methodologies. It advocates for outside-the-box thinking. Unfortunately, the book doesn't contain ways to create these shortcuts for your own problems in either life or math.

  2. Book Review

    In Thinking Better, he pauses between each mathematical chapter to interview experts in many domains, hoping to gain the secret to shortcuts in learning a language (he once studied Russian) or mastering the cello (Du Sautoy is a keen trumpeter). These interludes are pleasant enough but feel distant from the mathematical ideas in the book.

  3. Thinking Better: The Art of the Shortcut in Math and Life

    Amazon.com: Thinking Better: The Art of the Shortcut in Math and Life: 9781541600362: Du Sautoy, ... There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. J Harikumar. 5.0 out of 5 stars Best Popular Mathematics Book I know of. Reviewed in the United States on October 20, 2021.

  4. Thinking Better: The Art of the Shortcut in Math and Life

    Format Hardcover. ISBN 9781541600362. One of the world's great mathematicians shows why math is the ultimate timesaver—and how everyone can make their lives easier with a few simple shortcuts. We are often told that hard work is the key to success. But success isn't about hard work - it's about shortcuts. Shortcuts allow us to solve one ...

  5. Thinking Better: The Art of the Shortcut in Math and Life

    Editorial Reviews. One of Bloomberg's "49 Most Fascinating, Mind-Blowing, Challenging, Hilarious, and Urgent Titles of the Year" for 2021 ... His latest book, Thinking Better, is a prime example of his ability to communicate with a broad audience… As always, Du Sautoy opens the world of mathematics for those who are at least a little curious ...

  6. Think Better: An Innovator's Guide to Productive Thinking

    There are thousands of books about thinking. But there are very few books that provide clear how-to information that can actually help you think better.. Think Better is about Productive Thinking ― why it's important, how it works, and how to use it at work, at home, and at play. Productive Thinking is a game changer ― a practical, easy-to-learn, repeatable process that helps people ...

  7. Thinking Better by Marcus Du Sautoy

    "In Thinking Better, Oxford mathematician Marcus Du Sautoy pulls back the curtain to show how mathematicians think. The result is an engaging, delightful adventure through a variety of situations where mathematical thinking - in particular, the search for clever shortcuts - illuminates deeper mathematical truths.

  8. Think Better: An Innovator's Guide to Productive Thinking

    Pinpoint the real problem or opportunity. Step 4: Generate Answers List many possible solutions. Step 5: Forge the Solution Decide which solution is best. Then make it better. Step 6: Align Resources Create an action plan. Tim Hurson starts by explaining how we all build inner barriers to effective thinking. He identifies our habits of thinking ...

  9. Thinking, Fast and Slow

    A review on Nov. 27 about "Thinking, Fast and Slow" erroneously attributed a distinction to the book's author, Daniel Kahneman, who won the Nobel in economic science in 2002. His being a ...

  10. Thinking 101: How to Reason Better to Live Better

    3.82. 1,131 ratings141 reviews. Psychologist Woo-kyoung Ahn devised a course at Yale University to help students examine the biases that cause so many problems in their daily lives. Called "Thinking," the course quickly became one of the university's most popular. In Ahn's class, students examine "thinking problems"—such as ...

  11. Thinking Better: 9780008393953: Amazon.com: Books

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  12. Amazon.com: Customer reviews: Thinking Better

    Lewis and Green divide their program for thinking better up into 5 Steps: 1. Thinking Better by Thinking Clearly 2. Thinking Better about Intelligence Tests 3. Thinking Better About Learning 4. Thinking Better About Solving Problems 5. Thinking Better About Decision Making I first read the book years ago and now, looking back at it, I'm ...

  13. Thinking Better book by James Greene

    Buy a cheap copy of Thinking Better book by James Greene. Thinking Better: A Revolutionary New Program to Achieve Peak Mental Performance Free Shipping on all orders over $15. ... Edition Details Professional Reviews Awards. Format: Hardcover. Language: English. ISBN: 0892561688. ISBN13: 9780892561681. Release Date: January 1984. Publisher ...

  14. 7 of the best smart thinking books to read in 2024

    7 of the best smart thinking books to read in 2024 - BBC Science Focus Magazine.

  15. Think Better: An Innovator's Guide to Productive Thinking

    There are thousands of books about thinking. But there are very few books that provide clear how-to information that can actually help you think better. Think Better is about Productive Thinking—why it's important, how it works, and how to use it at work, at home, and at play. Productive Thinking is a game changer—a practical, easy-to-learn, repeatable process that helps people ...

  16. Thinking 101 : How to Reason Better to Live Better

    Books. Thinking 101: How to Reason Better to Live Better. Woo-kyoung Ahn. Flatiron Books, Sep 13, 2022 - Science - 288 pages. "An INVALUABLE RESOURCE to anyone who wants to think better." —Gretchen RubinAward-winning YALE PROFESSOR Woo-kyoung Ahn delivers "A MUST-READ—a smart and compellingly readable guide to cutting-edge research ...

  17. Review of Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

    In accepting an invitation to review Thinking, Fast and Slow ( TFS) by Daniel (Danny) Kahneman, I anticipated getting a comprehensive and clear response to these decades-old questions. Instead, TFS provides an assessment and integration that goes far beyond these early, comparatively simple questions. I have followed Danny's work closely ...

  18. 18 Books That'll Train Your Brain and Improve Your Thinking

    This book describes the 12 months the author spent trying to understand his memory. Learn about the brain's internal mechanisms, natural protections, hidden potential, and training techniques. Review: "This book not only captivates but conveys a well-rounded history and impact of memory." 11. "Train Your Brain: 60 Days to a Better Brain" Ryuta ...

  19. Think Better Book Review

    The last book from my 'vacation reading list" is Think Better: An Innovator's Guide to Productive Thinking by Tim Hurson.Some of you may remember a brief mention of this book in a post titled "Critical Thinking vs Creative Thinking". This is a very interesting book full of great information….kudos go to the author for writing in a style that is engaging and easy to read.

  20. Thinking 101: How to Reason Better to Live Better

    Thinking 101 is an invaluable resource to anyone who wants to think better. In remarkably clear language, and with engaging and often funny examples, Woo-Kyoung Ahn uses cutting-edge research to explain the mistakes we often make―and how to avoid them.". "Thinking 101 delivers a world-class tune-up for your brain.

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    Thinking Better: 9780008393922: Amazon.com: Books. Other Used and New from $2.83. -10% $2259. List Price: $25.00. Get Fast, Free Shipping with Amazon Prime FREE Returns. FREE delivery Monday, July 8 on orders shipped by Amazon over $35. Or fastest delivery Wednesday, July 3. Order within 23 hrs 8 mins. Select delivery location.

  22. Thinking Better: A Revolutionary New Program to Achieve Peak Mental

    Lewis and Green divide their program for thinking better up into 5 Steps: 1. Thinking Better by Thinking Clearly 2. Thinking Better about Intelligence Tests 3. Thinking Better About Learning 4. Thinking Better About Solving Problems 5. Thinking Better About Decision Making I first read the book years ago and now, looking back at it, I'm ...

  23. Thinking Better by David R. Lewis

    David R. Lewis, James Greene. This book is a book about your brain and ways of making it work at peak efficiency. In five easily mastered steps you will learn how every major aspect of intellectual performance can be substantially increased. We will show you how to access your individual styles of learning, problem solving, and decision making ...