The Art of Thinking Clearly : Book Review

The Art of Thinking clearly is a book by Rolf Dobelli, as stated by its author not to influence and confuse people anymore or to observe their life through a microscopic lens. However on the contrary it acts as a tool to common biases, obstructions aswell as enable us to make better decision-making and judgment.

The author does get redundant at times and often finds ways to reexamine a previously stated theory but the first few chapters set the tone for what preceeds the thinking aswell as the author is levy to the facts that such is the nature of his notes. So let’s ignore here his artistic license but focus on the meat of his theories.

These are a few of his theories which made me think and connect with and furthered my understanding

Survivorship bias : A theory that those who make it in society versus those who don’t are skewed based on statistics. Being aware that victory is expressed and more apparent than failure. The number of filmmakers, artists, singers, cricketers, politicians who were successful is what you see in the media and society rather versus those who did’nt. We rarely observe nor does media lay the limelight to the “have not’s” or the people who changed career paths, waited for prolonged periods, or barely had what it took to set forth for the survival. Think here survival of the unfittest examined verus survival of the fittest.

Social proof/ Herd mentality: We believe large numbers justify reasoning and deliver results. In application, don’t get married just because everyone on Facebook is, or join a start up purely for the sake of ending up with a “me too business”. Influence your own choices and what you want instead. Social proof doesn’t give you any survivor advantage or edge either. Dobelli claims other than in choosing the restaurant to go to or watching that particular movie based on popular recommendation. However in terms of decision making, your chances at failure or an increase success aren’t predicted purely by following suit. The journey for everyone is still individualistic and their own journey. You could very well fail should a bunch of others succeed or vice versa.

Swimmers body: We aren’t honest with ourselves and what the role of a profession or task really requires and accuracy of the selection criteria. Chances are pretty faces get modeling jobs, athletic get swimming jobs. It is important therefore to look into a mirror and really be honest when goal setting and setting forth to take on a task. Rather than always blindly believeing the world’s your oyster in every given field. A reality check works wonders to clear thinking.

Clustering illusion: We as human beings are trained to apparitions and pattern recognition when we look for signs as a way to justify actions. Alternatively learning to infact rely on factual evidence. For instance, a husband and wife argue for the last couple of days about who might have replaced a missing toothbrush. Neither agree to it and assume therefore settle for there is actually a ghost. However gaining a reality check that this is pure chance alone and nothing else all the way through and sheer coincidence rather than clouded reasoning allow for better judgement.

Confirmation bias: Using confirmation as a way to draw conclusions. Arthur Quiller a literary critic says, “Murder your darlings”. Which in other words means disregard your attachment to things, situations and words. Get rid of those words that you are so in love with for the sake of repeating yourself for a writer this might mean redundancy. Don’t rely on confirmation to influence your views. This goes hand in hand with the “pattern recognition” “ clustered illusion theory” in a sense as stated above. The solution here to decision making is find disconfirming evidence as a reality check and axing those beliefs that feel like old friends.

Sunk cost fallacy: We justify reasons for pursuing with the investment put in. We don’t leave sour relationships because we think of how much time we invested or how much work we put in. We won’t leave a bad movie hall for we spent money on the ticket. However to steer away from pursuing in this way it is important to evaluate at face value. Only your present and future counts in such a situation. Don’t use investment as a reason for justifying action.

Reciprocity: Forced reciprocating and acceptance, feeling a forced obligation to something based purely on being in another persons debt. We feel often times that just because a salesmen is constantly endorsing a food product or new utility tool we must respond. This is not to say we become desensitized. On the contrary it says do so but not purely for the sake of giving in or feeling obliged but instead for the right reasons.

Authority bias : Listening to an authoratitive person for their sheer authority alone. Challenge people in positions of power don’t allow them to enforce or influence your reasoning. Be realistic even when listening to those who are powerful

The contrast effect : Using contrast as a benefit and disadvantage. For instance how a not so beautiful person in the midst of relatively pretty faces makes the others feel like supermodels. Recognising that these parameters affect decision making.

Ourselves as predictors : We often see ourselves as predictor of events. We assume we will meet all our goals for the year because we think so and we wrote so in our diary. That something good will happen or bad will because we feel so. Let’s not rely on this see distortion of facts . Keep a diary to goal set but also lay revisit things you didn’t predict at the end of a year’s evolutions.

Framing and Stories: For the sake of a story or packaging stories often times narratives divulge from fact. An obvious trigger of clouded judgement here is omission is important to consider if not be vary of . For years we’ve seen epic stories distorted to heighten the bravery of the hero, the beauty of the princess or then the greater moral. Be vary of these social constructs designed to prevent reasoning on fact alone.

Inactivity: The power of being inactive is often greater and should be more valued and respected at times than. Reflection allows for rewiring and prevents impulsiveness. In other words think active inactivity versus passive activity. As stated “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone as stated by” as stated by French mathematician Blaise Plascal.

These theories of Dobelli resonated with me for the accuracy of these theories to my life. However the reasoning might vary from situation to situation. The key to this is realizing the victory lies in being vary of social constructs that cloud ones thinking. If we begin to take every thing far too seriously and dissect every little figment of social constructs we could drive ourselves mad. However in pursuit of a regain conscience and removed over analyzing and indecision this book does strive to offer clarity and delivers a nod of agreement.