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According to Steven Pinker, Daniel Kahneman is “the most important psychologist alive today.” His work on decision making and irrational economic choices has made him one of a very small group of non-economists who have earned a Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. Kahneman joins us to discuss how and why we make the decisions we do, and how that can help us understand politics, the economy and even the way we grocery shop.

Guests:
Daniel Kahneman, professor of psychology emeritus at Princeton University and author of books including "Thinking, Fast and Slow"

  • BubblesGoPop

    The Nobel committee has recently given a peace prize to a war criminal named Obama. In the past it has given Economics prizes to economists who merely preach the nonsense theories that the international financiers and the crooks in the big banks want taught. I can see no reason to respect the Nobel prize nor to consider its recipients as more worthy of respect for their having received Nobel prizes, indeed they may well be less.

    • Ehkzu

      The Republican Ministry of Propaganda doesn’t just try to inflame and motivate the Republican base–it also tries to depress the Democratic base and make movement Democrats cynical and depressed, to make them feel that their vote makes no difference.
      Thanks for playing into their hands.

    • sanoran_t

      Obama is the only Nobel ‘Peace’ Prize winner who has ordered the assassination of someone without a trial. Chicago gangster style.

      But then again, Alfred Nobel made his money with Bofors canons and C4 explosives (Nobel invented the precursor to C4). Nobel was a b astard, and his ‘Peace prize, is finally given to another b astard, Obama 🙂

      • So anyone involved in the chain of command is a bastard? I am not happy about the drones, but would probably use them as I would allow soldiers to use air planes over artillery, trucks over horses, rifles over swords. War is a messy business – and if George Bush actually had the drones deployed as Obama does now he would have used the same or more – Obama certainly did not create drones, but they came online during his presidency – so he is using them.

  • Livegreen

    Might an example of “irrational economic choices” include the propensity to run up deficits during prosperity while wanting to slash government spending during Recessions & Depressions.

    This prevailing wisdom is repeated ad nauseam by our elected leaders and mass media, leading to the inescapable conclusions that:

    Hoover brought us out of the Great Depression;

    Dick “Deficits don’t Matter” Cheney brought us budget surpluses;

    Grover Norquist’s tax policies will benefit most Americans…

  • Ehkzu

    People rich and poor tend to base their economic decisions on their intuition–the problem being that our intuition evolved to optimize us for living as hunter-gatherers on the grasslands of East Africa, which is how our ancestors lived from 6 million to 10,000 years ago.
    Unfortunately our intuitions haven’t evolved since then, 10,000 years being an evolutionary eyeblink.
    The most economically dangerous of our intuitions is the male’s tendency to think he can get away with it, whatever “it” is. This is what enabled our ancestors to go into battle, and reflects the relative expendbility of the males.
    We’d probably be better off it women ran the economy.

    • During calm times I think this is true although in tumultuous times rationality is not always the best for survival as it is the eccentric solution that may allow for survival which is generally more served by selfish intent and less rational solutions brought on my testosterone.

  • How much is our economic psychology influenced by the socio-economic system we live in? Will a person’s psychological context be different growing up in a feudal society, a completely open market, a highly regulated market or some kind of commune? It seems that sometimes social scientists and political philosophers make claims based on data without accounting for whether or not the data *might* be culturally or historically relative.

    • Ehkzu

      Dr. Kahneman’s advice (given on the air) is sound, but it would help to understand WHY our mental makeup leads us astray–then our irrationality starts to make sense. My sociobiological explanation (see my comment below this one) provides the context.
      For the details, see “Inevitable illusions: How mistakes of reason rule our minds” by MIT cognitive psychologist Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini.

  • Jon Gold

    Can your guest speak to religion…briefly, on how or why humans ‘need’ religion to have hope or faith in something ‘better’? etc.

  • Cathy

    I once heard that mildly depressed people are often able assess a situation better than optimistic people because of their mindset to see potential losses better and therefore apply more critical thinking. Is this true?

  • googlegiggle

    Does chocolate makes many people happier?

  • gez devlin

    Is it true that some societies are measurably happier than others e.g Guatemalans appear to be much happier than North Americans, even though collectively Guatemala is relatively impoverished.

  • googlegiggle

    Is Schadenfreude real joy?

  • Juan

    When i hear your guest… i immediately think of the extremes examples presented duing our recent gun debates… and fast v. slow decision making.

  • menloman

    “We believe what others who we respect believe in.” You can change your mind. Rather than exposing yourself to one opinion it’s helpful to approach ideas on their merits rather than on who says it.

  • sanoran_t

    So, women stick to stocks… men don’t etc etc… but his analysis completely ignores the most important fact about the stock market! bin-Bernanke is printing Trillions of dollars, … and this is blowing bubbles in both stocks and houses. Without Bernanke’s inflation printing, the stock market would be at 5000 or 6000 at most.

    This ‘researcher’ ignores this humongous fact, -and keeps talking about human behavior 🙂 LOL. And he probably believes it himself 🙂

    Shoot bin Bernanke and watch the stock market collapse 🙂 Men and women would both prove to be idiots.

    Mr. Kahneman’s ‘analysis’ is a huge pile of BS.

  • Why is it that we fight so hard to think we are all independent and unbiased? It is a fools errand and in thinking so are then even more apt to be taken advantage of. The problem is that in the past only certain people were able to apply these skills, but now organizations are getting better at manipulating consumers and clients and push political agendas beyond their true representation. These classes and information should be standard education in high school along with interactive exercises.

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