Skip to main content

Our Community Focus

Ready My Mind

Jun 26, 2017 10:27PM ● By Michael Harris

Two Books That Really Made Me Think


We read books for many reasons: to be entertained, to be informed, to be motivated, to be inspired, to escape reality, to improve ourselves, to help others, and to make us think. Two recent books by best-selling authors really made me think about our modern world and what the future holds.


Thomas Friedman’s Thank You For Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in This Age of Accelerations is a most worthwhile follow-up to his bestseller The World Is Flat. The title comes from an incident when a reporter was late for an interview with Friedman. During that "free time,” Friedman had an opportunity to reflect on our modern age and the future. The result is this book.


While we humans are fairly adaptable creatures, “our capacity to adapt is being outpaced by a supernova of three ever faster things: technology, the market, and climate change.” To help understand how fast things are changing, Friedman focuses on 2007, the year that brought us the first iPhone and the transformation it started.


Later, in a clever analogy, Friedman applies Moore’s law (microprocessor power doubles every two years) to automobiles. If automobiles had progressed as rapidly as microprocessors, today “the 1971 Volkswagen Beetle would travel at 300,000 miles per hour, cost 4 cents and use one tank of gasoline in a lifetime.” Mind-boggling!


We live in an ever-changing world, moving at a faster pace than ever before. Friedman tries to explain “why so many things seem to be spinning out of control.” In spite of this, his conclusion is that we are going to be okay. As a guide for the perplexed, “This book is very hard to beat.” Food for thought in deed!


Moneyball author Michael Lewis’ latest book is The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds. It’s an eye-opening look at the friendship that started the science of behavioral economics. Never heard of "behavioral economics?" Neither had anyone else until two Israeli geniuses came up with the concept. The idea was so brilliant, revolutionary, and mind altering that it won the Nobel Prize in Economics.


This is the story of psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, whose collaboration  “became one of the greatest partnerships in the history of science” and turned the understanding of human behavior upside down. Their research became the undoing of the false view that “the mind is somehow rational, untrickable, and potentially infallible.” Our minds consistently try to fool us, but we can avoid being fooled if we follow their advice.


Consider how our preconceived notions, not rationality, influence our decision-making. You flip a coin five times and it comes up heads each time. What are the odds it will come up heads the next time? Many think it's less likely to come up heads because it came up heads five previous times. In reality, each flip is independent and not based on previous flips. So, regardless of how many times the coin comes up heads, the odds of it coming up heads next time are still 50-50.


Here's the example that really got me. Would you rather win $500 or take a 50-50 chance on winning $1000? Most take the 50-50 chance on winning $1000. Now, would you rather lose $500 or take a 50-50 chance on losing $1000? Most take losing $500. The odds are exactly the same in both situations. Why do we ignore the laws of statistics and simply go with our guts? To find out and learn more about two fascinating individuals, The Undoing Project is a must read that will really make you think.