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BJS Bookshelf: Thinking, Fast and Slow

Authors: Recommendation and article by Begum Pekbay; Medical Doctor, and PhD-candidate in Surgical Education and Training; Rotterdam; The Netherlands;; Instagram: @drs.begum

“The secret to managing the quality of our decisions is to learn to be wrong as fast as possible.”

In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman illuminates a two-systems approach to human judgment and choice: the fast, intuitive System 1, and the slow, measured System 2. Errors result from relying too much on the faster intuitive decision-making process and not enough on the slower calculated process that applies rules and statistics. Kahneman further dissects different cognitive biases and systematic errors and explains how they affect decision-making. The content is based on extensive research and serves as a comprehensive guide to understanding human thought processes. It provides concrete, valuable tools for individuals in various fields, including surgeons, to enhance decision-making skills.

Why surgeons should read it:

Surgeons frequently work in high-stress environments, making them susceptible to biases arising from swift, intuitive thinking (System 1). Recognizing when to shift to slower, deliberate thinking (System 2) becomes paramount to avoid judgmental errors that affect patient care. This is namely relevant in acute situations where it may be challenging to postpone decisions without succumbing to the heat of the moment. Furthermore, as surgical teams depend on efficient communication and collaboration, a shared comprehension of decision-making processes and awareness of common biases can enhance team dynamics. Hence, this book would make a meaningful gift for the department library. After reading this book, a surgeon will have the knowledge to recognize situations in which cognitive mistakes are likely and the tools to avoid mistakes when the stakes are high.


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The Academy is comprised of five distinct sections: Continuing surgical education, Young BJS, Cutting edge, Scientific surgery and Surgical news. Although the majority of this is open access, additional content is available to BJS subscribers and strategic partners.

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