Title: The Art Of Thinking Clearly

Author: Rolf Dobelli

Genre: Self Help

Publisher: Sceptre (UK), Farrar, Straus and Giroux(USA)

Published On: 28 March 2013

Rating: 3.5 /5

What Is This Book About?

The Art Of Thinking Clearly comprises of chapters that deal with flaws in the way most people ‘think’. It is flooded with different types of cognitive biases and thinking errors. The fallacies mentioned in the book are explained in the best possible way that will change one’s outlook of life and have an impact on the way they think. This book directly links with the psychological aspect of thinking.

Important Points

There are 99 cognitive biases to be remembered but here are some important ones:

1. Survivorship Bias

People systematically overestimate their chances of success. Guard against it by frequently visiting the graves of once-promising projects, investments and careers.

2. Swimmer’s Body Illusion

Be wary when you are encouraged to strive for certain things – be it abs of steel, immaculate looks, a higher income, a long life, a particular demeanour or happiness. You might fall prey to the swimmer’s body illusion. Before you decide to take the plunge, look in the mirror – and be honest about what you see. 

3. Clustering Illusion

When it comes to pattern recognition, we are oversensitive. Regain your scepticism. If you think you have discovered a pattern, first consider it a pure chance. If it seems too good to be true, find a mathematician and have the data tested statistically. And if the crispy parts of your pancake start to look a lot like Jesus’ face, ask yourself: if he really wants to reveal himself, why doesn’t he do it in Times Square or on CNN? 

4. Sunk Cost Fallacy

Rational decision-making requires you to forget about the costs incurred to date. No matter how much you have already invested, only your assessment of the future costs and benefits counts. 

5. Authority Bias

Whenever you are about to make a decision, think about which authority figures might be exerting an influence on your reasoning. And when you encounter one in the flesh, do your best to challenge him or her. 

6. The It’ll-Get-Worse-Before-It-Gets-Better Fallacy

If someone says ‘It’ll get worse before it gets better,’ you should hear alarm bells ringing. But beware: situations do exist where things first dip and then improve. For example, a career change requires time and often incorporates loss of pay. The reorganisation of business also takes time. But in all these cases, we can see relatively quickly if the measures are working. The milestones are clear and verifiable. Look to these rather than to the heavens. 

7. Overconfidence Effect

Be aware that you tend to overestimate your knowledge. Be sceptical of predictions, especially if they come from so-called experts. And with all plans, favour the pessimistic scenario. This way you have a chance of judging the situation somewhat realistically. 

8. Chauffeur Knowledge

Be on the lookout for chauffeur knowledge. Do not confuse the company spokesperson, the ringmaster, the newscaster, the schmoozer, the verbiage vendor or the cliché generator with those who possess true knowledge. How do you recognise the difference? There is a clear indicator: true experts recognise the limits of what they know and what they do not know. If they find themselves outside their circle of competence, they keep quiet or simply say, ‘I don’t know.’ This they utter unapologetically, even with a certain pride. From chauffeurs, we hear every line except this. 

9. Incentive Super Response Tendency

Keep an eye out for the incentive super-response tendency. If a person’s or an organisation’s behaviour confounds you, ask yourself what incentive might lie behind it. I guarantee you that you’ll be able to explain 90% of the cases this way. What makes up the remaining 10%? Passion, idiocy, psychosis or malice.

10. Domain Dependence

What you master in one area is difficult to transfer to another. Especially daunting is the transfer from academia to real life – from the theoretically sound to the practically possible.

My Opinion

The author has explained the difficult biases in layman’s term giving conclusions after each and every chapter. This book has a plethora of anecdotes and practical examples that everyone can relate to. It’s divided into 99 small chapters, containing 99 biases what we encounter in our daily life and fall victim of it.

The best part is, it gives us the way to get rid of these problems and thus have a crystal clear thinking. But it would have been much better if rather than giving so many facts in a single book it would have been divided into parts. So that focus would have been given on the important cognitive errors.

The Writing Style

The book has a very simple language. It seems engaging because it contains small chapters but not an easy read at all. Therefore, it’s not suggested for beginners because they can’t digest soo much information at once. And if someone is not into non-fiction, should not pick this book as they may find it a bit boring.

My Takeaway

It is an anthology of cognitive errors that had been brought from different sources. Rather than the authors own ideas, it contains a collection of ideas and theories of different psychologists and researchers. Moreover, it explains everything in terms of business management and also has a part of behavioural economics. As I have less knowledge about these subjects many segments of the book went overboard. Thus, the book seemed boring at those points. So I had to re-read it again and again. It requires time to process and store the facts mentioned in this book.

How This Book Helped Me?

The Art of Thinking Clearly gave me the insight to process my thoughts in a rational and logical direction. Thus, shaping my decision process.

Who Is The Author?

Rolf Dobelli (born July 15, 1966, in Luzern, Switzerland) is a Swiss author and businessman. He began his writing career as a novelist in 2002, but he is best known internationally for his bestselling non-fiction The Art of Thinking Clearly (2011, English 2013), for which The Times has called him “the self-help guru the Germans love”.

Born in 1966 in Lucerne, Switzerland, he obtained an MBA in 1991 from the University of St. Gallen and a PhD in economic philosophy in 1995. In 1999, he co-founded getAbstract, a publisher of book summaries and article abstracts.

Are you new to reading and looking for something to start with? We have something fo you.

Aryashree Nanda

Aryashree Nanda

Aryashree Nanda is from Odisha. She is a law aspirant and has big dreams in her life. She enjoys reading books.
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