How to Think More Effectively

Phil James

Wednesday, October 11 2017 at 7:30PM

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Phil James

What's the talk about?

Why do we believe that air travel is more dangerous than car travel, despite statistics proving the opposite is true? 

Why are judges more likely to deny parole before lunch? 

And why do we forget to eat when focused on an interesting project? 

In his best-selling book, ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’, Nobel Prize winning behavioural economist Daniel Kahneman explored the intuitive biases and irrationality in our decision making, and explained that we use two thinking systems which he calls ‘System 1’ and ‘System 2’. System 1 operates on the illusory principle: ‘what you see is all there is’ - it’s fast and automatic but conclusions come to you without any awareness of how you were arrived at them. System 2 takes effortful concentration, and we are aware of the mental processes it is using, but it is lazy and easily overridden by the quick convenience of System 1.

Kahneman also details a series of heuristics ("rules of thumb") we use in our thinking that can bias the accuracy of our decision making, and considers how understanding these mental shortcuts can help us recognise the situations in which mistakes are likely so we can try harder to avoid significant mistakes when the stakes are high. 

Phil James will present an entertaining exposition of Kahneman’s key psychological observations, with a special focus on how we can use our new-found knowledge of the cognitive biases, fallacies and illusions revealed in the book to improve the effectiveness of our thinking in our everyday lives.

Does a photo of eyes make you more honest?

Can smiling as you read this make you more confident this talk will be worth attending? 


Phil James MSc MBPsS FRSA is a Graduate Member of the British Psychological Society and a retired PhD researcher at Bournemouth University.