The Art of Thinking Clearly

Rolf Dobelli has published a great book that will help you think more clearly about life, work. government — just about everything.  The Art of Thinking Clearly is a collection of short three-page chapters describing 99 different cognitive biases that we humans suffer from.  Sunk cost fallacy, story bias, fear of regret, hyperbolic discounting, illusion of skill, cherry picking, and 93 others (many of which you probably haven’t heard of). They’re all here in one comprehensive and very accessible collection. Being aware of cognitive biases can help you avoid a lot of the pitfalls of the modern world, but it’s only the first step.  As Rolf says in the introduction:

This is not a how-to-book.  You won’t find “seven steps to an error-free life” here.  Cognitive errors are far too engrained to rid ourselves of them completely.  Silencing them would require superhuman willpower, but that isn’t even a worth goal.  Not all cognitive errors are toxic, and some are even necessary for leading a good life.  Although this book may not hold the key to happiness, at the very least it acts as insurance against too much self-induced unhappiness.

Indeed, my wish is quite simple:  If we could learn to recognize and evade the biggest errors in thinking — in our private lives, at work, or in government — we might experience a leap in prosperity.  We need no extra cunning, no new ideas, no unnecessary gadgets, no frantic hyperactivity — all we need is less irrationality.

It’s a fast, fun read — with plenty of humorous anecdotes (and lots of endnotes, if you want to read more) — summarizing decades of academic research and real world learning.

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