Noise by Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, Cass R. Sunstein

Noise by Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, Cass R. Sunstein was published earlier this year and I was keen to read it. I read Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman and I was curious to know more about noise. The book makes a clear difference between bias and noise. They point out that there is a lot of talk about biases but not too much on noise, maybe, I would say because of the availability bias when it comes to the relation between biases and bad judgements.

Noise by Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, Cass R. Sunstein

They use a lot of examples, such as doctors giving different diagnoses to identical patients and judges who give different sentences for the same crime for an array of reasons, such as if the court hearing is on the accused’s birthday or not. It was very interesting to read about noise and, even more, how extensive the problem really is. I would have liked to have shorter and clearer examples at times, hence the 4.5 stars instead of 5.

At the end of the book they are talking about ways to reduce noise and if the costs of reducing noise are worth the effort. For example, a teacher who marks essays is affected by noise, so each essay could be marked by 5 teachers, but that would mean a lot more resources for something that might not be so important. Although, of course, trying to understand noise and reduce it as much as possible would make all our lives better overall, both as consumers and in our careers.

Noise by Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, Cass R. Sunstein

Details about the picture: –
My rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: yes
Published by: Little, Brown Spark
Year it was published: 2021
Format: Hardcover
Genre(s): Psychology
Pages: 454

About the authors:
Daniel Kahneman is an Israeli-American psychologist and winner of the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, notable for his work on behavioral finance and hedonic psychology. He wrote Thinking, Fast and Slow, another amazing book worth reading.

Olivier Sibony is Professor of Strategy at HEC Paris. He is also an Associate Fellow of Saïd Business School in Oxford University, and has taught at London Business School, Ecole Polytechnique. He is a knight in the French Order of the Légion d’Honneur.
Other books by him: You’re About to Make a Terrible Mistake! and Cracked It! How To Solve Big Problems and Sell Solutions Like Top Strategy Consultants.

Cass R. Sunstein is an American legal scholar. Sunstein taught at the University of Chicago Law School for over two decades and he was Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama administration.
Website & Social Media Links: –

6 thoughts on “Noise by Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, Cass R. Sunstein”

  • We’re probably all guilty of having a bias in different circumstances, but bias in law-enforcement should not happen. As you say, what does it matter, if it’s someone’s birthday. In this country the social status is often a base of the bias.

    • This is what the book was about, the importance of noise. Bias is related to things like social status, race, gender, and so on, and it can be both positive and negative, as in someone can be advantaged due to bias. There is also noise, which is not bias, but it can lead to big problems too.

  • At first glance, I thought I might already have this tagged at the library , but then realized it is Quiet that I have tagged. Opposites! (it’s about introverts)

    This sounds interesting. I realize the world is full of bias, but I wonder if it would frustrate me to read about it. I’ve gone ahead and marked it, just in case.
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    • It is interesting because it shows that noise is just as an issue as bias is. Also, we know and talk so much about bias, but ignore that not everything is due to bias and that noise impact decision making too. The part about noise reduction is very interesting as it highlights that noise is not as bad in all situations.

  • I checked out both this book and the previous book you mentioned, and whilst I think I might get quite annoyed reading them, they sound really interesting. – We often have exactly this argument when we watch a news programme and a judge has awarded a particular sentence, yet someone who seems to have committed much worse crime, or even worse, an almost identical crime, gets a lighter / more severe sentence. There seems to be no consistency in our basic systems and whilst I accept that as individuals, we all perceive the magnitude of the same crime slightly differently, there shouldn’t be so much left open to individual interpretation – what Daniel refers to as ‘noise’ – I’m not even going to get started on doctors and consultants – and politicians are definitely out of bounds, or I will have no keyboard or screen left intact! – A great feature, thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • The book has an academic feel and the analysis is thought-provoking, but there are parts that are annoying, like the example I gave about judges giving a shorter sentence if it’s the birthday of the convict. Why on Earth does it matter is is their birthday or not?! That’s incredible, but also clear because they don’t realise they are more lenient because of random factors.
      Fun fact about doctors, they wash their hands less at the end of the shift, due to noise. 🙂

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