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The Art of Thinking Clearly Hardcover – May 14, 2013
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*Starred Review* Why do we stay in bad relationships or stubbornly hold on to failing investments? Dobelli, author and founder of Zurich.Minds, a community of thinkers, explores the natural tendencies we have to think illogically and how we can overcome them. This is not a facile how-to book but a serious examination of the faulty reasoning that leads to repeated mistakes by individuals, businesses, and nations. Among the logical errors Dobelli explores are survivorship bias, or systematic overestimation of the chances for success, and social proof (otherwise known as herd mentality), or feeling that an action or decision is correct because so many others are doing the same thing. Herd mentality is often demonstrated in the stock market, triggering bubbles and panics alike. Dobelli warns against the influence of so-called experts, news anchors, beautiful people, teams of workers, and others, cautioning readers to learn to think clearly for themselves. He offers some 99 common errors, drawing on social science, psychology, economics, and politics for amusing and sobering examples of the failure to think logically. In this fascinating book, Dobelli does not offer a recipe for happiness but a well-considered treatise on avoiding “self-induced unhappiness.” --Vanessa Bush
“A fireworks show of insights into how our minds work. If you want to avoid tripping on cognitive errors, read this book.” (Iris Bohnet, Professor and Academic Dean, Harvard Kennedy School, Director of the Harvard Decision Science Laboratory)
“Dobelli examines our most common decision-making failings with engaging eloquence and describes how to counter them with instructive good sense.” (Robert Cialdini, author of Influence)
“…a serious examination of the faulty reasoning that leads to repeated mistakes by individuals, businesses, and nations…In this fascinating book, Dobelli does not offer a recipe for happiness but a well-considered treatise on avoiding ‘self-induced unhappiness.’” (Booklist (starred review))
“…easy-going prose…what [Dobelli] does is pinpoint exactly the assumptions, bias and illusions that shape our thinking and decision-making processes in both business and personal relationships that can cost us dearly as individuals and as a society.” (Financial Times)
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What I loved about the book so far
1) Feel-good is mostly bulls***
2) Follow what you are good at, not the cover of magazines
3) Stop when needed, dont get foolled by sunk costs.
It is not "art", neither "thinking", neither "clearly". In fact, let me quote from the "Introduction":
"This is not a how-to book. You won't find "seven steps to an error-free life...Although this book may not hold the key to happiness, at the very last it acts as insurance against too much self-induced unhappiness...If we could learn to recognize and evade the biggest errors in thinking...we might experience a leap in prosperity."
So the title should be "How to recognize mistakes that cause us to act irrationally".
Then you would search for the "Art of Recognition". How do I prevent myself from committing these errors, how do I recognize that my thinking is indeed influenced by cognitive errors, fallacies, biases? Here you find no help. Say, you finish reading the book and then face a decision that could be crucial, yet you instinctively sense (gut feeling is at work here) the danger of a thinking error. Would you quickly go over every one of the 99 listed biases to check for these errors? What kind of quick check could you use to ensure you are acting rationally? What would warn you? What is the art?
Second, let me tell you what this book is:
A list of 99 fallacies, biases that influence our thinking and actions (i.e. "personification, confirmation bias, hindsight bias, etc.) and in fact, if the title would be "Fallacies and biases" I would give it a five star.
But shortly after you start reading this book, you realize that it is indeed "just" a list of errors, with brief explanations of their nature, occurrence and evolution. Yes, there are the stories and facts to back them up. Yet there is not a hint to know or recognize the risk when you face them.
At the end the book is a good read. But the practical use of such lists is quite limited. It is a database, but not an algorithm.
But he is also very pessimistic and close minded which makes it a pain to read sometimes.
Plus I have also read a lot persuasion, sales and marketing so I found it a little bit repetitive and myopic.
But for a person who is not well read in sales marketing and persuasion texts this can be very eye opening.