Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

Thinking, Fast and Slow

Nobel prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman makes a large body of research on how the mind works accessible. He describes two complementary aspects of human cognition: automatic/effortless and deliberate/effortful thought. Automatic processes (System 1) run constantly in the background, usually outside the scope of conscious attention (similar to neural control over the circulation of blood). Deliberate System 2, takes up intentional and motivational resources that are limited, and is therefore deployed only when necessary (e.g., when System 1 detects something surprising). Many decisions are driven by input from System 1 via heuristics and biases without conscious awareness (i.e., the involvement of System 2). Kahneman explores implications for many realms such as education, science, business, government and politics. Thus Thinking, Fast and Slow is a book that could be of interest to almost anyone.

Thursday, March 21st, 2013


Granite, Atwood

Facilitators: Chris Jazwinski, Joe Melcher and Mary Bodvarsson

The topics covered in Kahneman’s book lie dead center within the rubric of critical thinking. To be an uncritical thinker is to accept input from System 1 with no caveats. System 1 operates according to the principle what you see is all there is or as a machine for jumping to conclusions in Kahneman’s own words. Understanding the operation of the human mind can help us avoid some of the pitfalls of biased thinking and poor decisions.

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