Daniel Kahneman has died

post by DanielFilan · 2024-03-27T15:59:14.517Z · LW · GW · 11 comments

This is a link post for https://www.washingtonpost.com/obituaries/2024/03/27/daniel-kahneman-dead/

He was 90 years old.

His death was confirmed by his stepdaughter Deborah Treisman, the fiction editor for the New Yorker. She did not say where or how he died.

The obituary also describes an episode from his life that I had not previously heard (but others may have):

Daniel Kahneman was born in Tel Aviv on March 5, 1934, while his mother was visiting relatives in what was then the British mandate of Palestine. The Kahnemans made their home in France, and young Daniel was raised in Paris, where his mother was a homemaker and his father was the chief of research for a cosmetics firm.

During World War II, he was forced to wear a Star of David after Nazi German forces occupied the city in 1940. One night in 1941 or ’42, he later recalled, he stayed out past the German-imposed curfew for Jews while visiting a friend, and he turned his sweater inside out to hide the star while he walked a few blocks home. He then crossed paths with a soldier in the SS, who called Daniel over, picked him up — and hugged him.

“I was terrified that he would notice the star inside my sweater,” Dr. Kahneman noted in a biographical essay for the Nobel Prize ceremonies. But the German pulled out his wallet, showed him a photo of a boy, gave him some money and sent him on his way. “I went home more certain than ever that my mother was right,” Dr. Kahneman said in the essay. “People were endlessly complicated and interesting.”


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comment by Yoav Ravid · 2024-03-27T19:51:57.799Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

“To be one more milestone in humanity's road is the best that can be said of anyone” - Eliezer Yudkowsky

Daniel Kahneman, you were a milestone in humanity's road to rationality. Thank you for that.

comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2024-03-27T17:30:38.311Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, this utterly sucks.

comment by Daniel Birnbaum (daniel-birnbaum) · 2024-03-28T03:03:05.769Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hate to be that guy but was he cryopreserved?

Replies from: niplav
comment by niplav · 2024-03-31T00:09:12.309Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Doesn't look like it, checking the Alcor and the Cryonics Institute logs doesn't show any updates. Besides, he wasn't in the milieu to even consider cryopreservation—he doesn't strike me as very transhumanist, and in interviews he was surprised at people trying to overcome their biases and act more rationally.

comment by Tenoke · 2024-03-28T22:31:27.526Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I own only ~5 physical books now (prefer digital) and 2 of them are Thinking, Fast and Slow. Despite not being on the site I've always thought of him as something of a founding grandfather of LessWrong.

comment by ClareChiaraVincent · 2024-04-06T14:46:58.436Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Kahneman and his books were a big reason I got into science, this is such a loss. I remember reading that story for the first time in college. And it's not just a loss for psychology and neuroscience; he was also a pioneer of adversarial collaboration. 

comment by Alexander Gietelink Oldenziel (alexander-gietelink-oldenziel) · 2024-03-27T17:40:15.552Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What a heart-warming story!

Replies from: kave
comment by kave · 2024-03-28T21:14:38.557Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

(I assume you mean the story with him and the SS soldier; I think a couple of people got confused and thought you were referring to the fact Kahneman had died)

Replies from: alexander-gietelink-oldenziel
comment by Agent Smith · 2024-04-07T19:10:05.942Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

His magnum opus was definitely his extensive work on cognitive biases, though his Nobel was in economics.

Requiescat in pace Daniel.

comment by typingloudly (custom-pc) · 2024-04-03T01:36:09.337Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Kahneman and Vinge were easily two of my top 10 intellectual influences.