Hitting the Books with Gary Thorne: “The Undoing Project”

“The Undoing Project” is from Michael Lewis, the author of “Moneyball,” and again we have the exploration of the way we think and why we make decisions, only this is on a level far beyond selecting players for a baseball team.

“Moneyball” was the story was of Billy Beane and the use of statistics and software as a new way of defining the worth of a player to a team.

UndoingProjectCover.jpgLewis told the Guardian after writing “Moneyball,” “I’d set out to tell a story about the way markets worked, or failed to work, especially when they were valuing people. But buried somewhere inside it was another story, one that I’d left unexplored and untold, about the way the human mind worked, or failed to work, when it was forming judgments and making decisions.”

That’s when he discovered psychologists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman were two friends who 40 years ago wondered how the brain works when encountering situations where it must decide not just on baseball players, but on the total array of decisions we make daily.

As was true in “Moneyball,” decisions are often made on intuition. That intuition, based on the work of these two psychologists, should often be mistrusted.

Their work showed the brain likes the easier path to a decision and will ignore facts directly in front of it. The brain will take the path of less work and of common precepts rather than stepping back for a better look.

Their writings and research have changed the decision-making process in every field of human endeavor, but not easily.

The very path the brain follows to an easier answer leads many to question their work and writings. Easier to just ignore of reject than to think.

Lewis takes us through the process these two friends took to reach ground breaking concepts.

There is no easy way to define their work and this book will take a few turning back pages to ponder what you are reading. It is worth the effort and the examples used are so common and practical they will at times stun you.

At some points in the book, it is scary to realize how decisions are made daily that defy facts and follow intuitions that are dead wrong.

This book is also the story of two friends whose divergent personalities brought together exactly the right mix to delve into this research. That relationship is woven into the story on both a professional and personal basis.

“Rule your mind or it will rule you.” ― Horace

Gary Thorne is the play-by-play voice of the Orioles on MASN, and the 2017 season is his 11th with the club and 32nd covering Major League Baseball. His blog will appear regularly throughout the season. The Orioles and Sarasota County have partnered on the Big League Reader Program, which rewarded kids who read three books in February with tickets to a Grapefruit League game at Ed Smith Stadium in March.

* Hitting the Books with Gary Thorne. © Copyright 2017 Gary F. Thorne. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Gary F. Thorne and MASNsports.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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