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Optimism bias and book writing

Updated: Nov 22, 2019

No book on security would be complete without a few words about heuristics and biases, especially optimism bias..

Who, me?

One of the best books I ever read on the subject of heuristics and biases was written by the most accomplished behavioral psychologist of the 20th century (not just my opinion), Daniel Kahneman. That's not just my opinion by the way but is widely shared. The book is called 'Thinking, Fast and Slow' and is one of the two most influential books that I think every homo sapien should read. I'll get to the other one later.

Thinking, Fast and Slow is one of those books that will change forever the way you see not just the world but yourself. It will probably make you a better person. It will most assuredly help you understand your own fallibilities.

Kahneman goes into great detail to describe not only how pervasive our biases and heuristics are, but also how they affect our lives and what we can do to minimise them.

Optimism bias is an author's best friend.

In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman relates an anecdote about how he and some and some highly experienced teachers decided to write a curriculum for a psychology course at their university. They estimated it would take a year. It took them eight years. One empathises.

I've been working on the Risk Management Body Of Knowledge now for 10 years. It is actually very close to being finished. But somehow adventures and other books such as Security Risk Management Aide-Mémoire get in the way. Stay tuned.

As for why I write? It's not for the money. Any author can tell you that. I will quote Kahneman when it comes to the joys of writing; and motorcycling, another of my passions.

Many activities can induce a sense of flow, from painting to racing motorcycles—and for some fortunate authors I know, even writing a book is often an optimal experience. Flow neatly separates the two forms of effort: concentration on the task and the deliberate control of attention. Riding a motorcycle at 150 miles an hour and playing a competitive game of chess are certainly very effortful. In a state of flow, however, maintaining focused attention on these absorbing activities requires no exertion of self-control, thereby freeing resources to be directed to the task at hand.

Kahneman, Daniel. Thinking, Fast and Slow (pp. 40-41). Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Kindle Edition.

You can also find a light-hearted version of how I wrote SRMAM in this article on 'How to write a non-fiction book'.

And as for that other life-changing book? I highly recommend Pre-suasion by Robert Cialdini. It should be essential reading for all security and risk managers; and homo sapiens in general. It will change the way you see the world, and the way you interact.

You can find them both via these affiliate links:

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