The Men Who Started a Thinking Revolution

Stephen J. Dubner, Freakonomics, Jan 07, 2017
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I listened to this podcast in the middle of Thursday night, while sleeping, so my first recollection of it is all mixed up with dreams (example: as a social experiment, Danny Kahneman and Amos Tversky swimming together out into the mid-Atlantic to reset standard time as it approaches from Europe). I woke up just enough to realize how good this podcast was, and reading the transcript today reinforces that. The core of their work (at least as interpreted by Freakonomics) is that people make decisions irrationally for a variety of predicable reasons. There is that, but I first encountered Tversky's work in the 1990s, and to me it made the case for the employment of salience in a definition of relevant similarity (it's not that people are irrational, it's that they're rational in different ways than economic theory would predict). See also: Select All, where I describe this influence; Tversky and Gati, Studies of Similarity; Kanhneman, Thinking about Thinking.

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