The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli

The Art of Thinking Clearly

I bought this book at an airport bookstore in Hong Kong while waiting for a flight. I try as much as possible to have a FIFO (First In, First Out) queue when it comes to reading books I buy. This was one of the books which I had for quite some time before I got around to reading it.

Well, it was well worth reading it. It was written originally in German by a successful Swiss businessman. I’ll admit that smirked when I found out it was written in German since from the title it seemed like perfect book to be written with the stereotypical pragmatism of Germans and straightforwardness I imagine a Swiss businessman would have. Sure enough, I found out it was the bestselling non-fiction book in Germany and Switzerland in 2012.

It’s a very easy to read format. He comes up with 99 fallacies of thinking most people fall into. Each fallacy is explained in a small article a few pages long. The book may sting a lot, as you recognise the follies of your own thinking, but he balances it out with a few jabs at his own miserable foolishness, such as his failure as a literary writer.

The sample of some of the fallacies are:

Does Harvard Make You Smarter?: Swimmer’s Body Illusion

Why You Should Accept the Past: Sunk Cost Fallacy

Never Judge a Decision by Its Outcome: Outcome Bias

Why Checklists Deceive You: Feature-Positive Effect

According to the author, he had no intention of publishing this list of fallacies which became his book, because he compiled them only for his personal use, to help him with his own decision making. It was only after other people prodding him that he decided to publish it. I’m glad he did.

One of the reasons I liked the book because Dobelli makes lots of references to Evolutionary Psychology at topic which I myself am very interested. He also makes references to the work of Dan Ariely, one of my favourite authors, and a number of studies I’ve read about before in books like Willpower by Roy Baumeister.

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