What you won’t learn from books about data and decision-making

A reading list that almost teaches you about decision intelligence

Cassie Kozyrkov

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My community has been asking me for a reading list of my favorite books about decision-making, data science, and decision intelligence, so here are the fruits of my attempt to compile some recommendations for you.

Photo by the author.

I’d love to suggest one great book for everyone to start with, but unfortunately, the perfect book hasn’t been written yet. Here’s the next best thing…

Category: “hi, i’m a stack of textbooks”

Best feature: Highest nutritional density.
Missing piece: Designed to put you to sleep unless you’re super-motivated.
Examples: Introduction to Statistical Learning, ML Engineering Book, Handbook of Experimental Economics, Decision Analysis

Category: “humans are silly”

Best feature: Amusing reminders that we aren’t flawless decision-makers.
Missing piece: We get it. People are silly. But how do we improve?? (????!)
Examples: How We Know What Isn’t So, Thinking Fast and Slow, Predictably Irrational

Category: “human brains are silly”

Best feature: Human brains are fascinating and the research makes for interesting dinner party conversation.
Missing piece: Whoops, there’s very little here about improving your skills.
Examples: Decisions Uncertainty and the Brain, Neuroeconomics

Category: “economics can be pretty cool”

Best feature: Gets you thinking about choice architecture and incentives.
Missing piece: Pitched to convince you to hire/become an economist, so the casual reader has to dig between the lines to find skills upgrades.
Examples: Nudge, The Why Axis, Misbehaving

Category: “decision-making for beginners”

Best feature: Decision analysis tips to help you improve as a decision-maker.
Missing piece: You won’t…

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Cassie Kozyrkov

Chief Decision Scientist, Google. ❤️ Stats, ML/AI, data, puns, art, theatre, decision science. All views are my own. twitter.com/quaesita