The Art of Thinking clearly


The Art of Thinking ClearlyThe Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An authority bias I developed some years ago by someone who had significant influence on my rationality (or irrationality) was that self-help genre was for the “weak lacking confidence in themselves”.  It was looked down upon; even below the mediocrity plinth of Chetan Bhagat books. The person was the type who suffered what @oliverburkeman calls “clarity bias”: the assumption that those who don’t share your values aren’t just different, but are of poor intellect, less cool, confused. However, even by my own accord, Self-Help is not my genre of choice.  Positive affirmations to build the alleged “power of the mind” hardly works on a pessimistic accountant who lives by the prudence concept. Besides why feed to a billion dollar industry of self-help books to adopt someone else’s view of rationality? Eventually when the aforesaid person’s influence on me waned, I decided to give this genre a shot. I am looking for ideas to stop seeing patterns in my thoughts that eventually become superstitions.

A friend who was sickened by my stereotyping told me about the Black Swan theory. I have wanted to read Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s work ever since. I stumbled across Swiss writer Rolf Dobelli’s The Art of Thinking clearly in an article criticizing him of plagiarizing of Taleb’s work. Dobelli’s book is my current read. He warns in the foreword that these are his study notes from having read the works of great thinkers and that he is not a psychologist, behavioral economist or thinker himself. He extensively gives credit to his friend Nicholas Taleb and offers his two cents. He writes that his work is a summary of what helps him and that he believed it would be of use to others. I quite agree.

Since his entire work is influenced by others, I’d say it’s impossible for him to reference every single sentence who’s idea he’s taken from the books he’s read. It’s a good summary of the various cognitive biases that one can use to relate oneself with, without having to read through many scientific illustrations to explain it. Each chapter explains in 2-3 pages of a particular type of bias. It’s quick to read book in simple language, though Dobelli’s obnoxious  “clarity bias” shines through.

Dobelli’s translator’s language maybe unimpressive to the pseudo-intellectuals who find books elitist by the complexity of the language, richness in content than by their own judgment of its value.

This book is a good start for anyone to identify pitfalls in their cognitive behavior and read further on what’s specific to them.

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