Reviewed by Katherine Matthews
Why do we trust someone who says something well, even if what they’re saying is superficial? Or even, why do we think that somebody believes a certain viewpoint, just because they say it out loud, even in reporting or fiction? Why are we willing to travel 10 minutes to save 10 euros on a 100 euro purchase, but we wouldn’t dream of it for a purchase of 10,000 euros, to save the exact same 10 euros? Our brain is a complicated thing, full of decision-making capabilities that we can’t begin to fully comprehend… not to mention full of errors.
Rolf Dobelli‘s new book The Art of Thinking Clearly aims to illuminate us on some of the largest and most common logical errors of day-to-day living. Laid out in 99 chapters covering 99 flaws of life inside the human condition, the book is a straight-forward and accessible look into biases, fallacies, effects, illusions and anomalies that plague us both as individuals and collectively as society. Written in a succinct, down-to-earth way, Dobelli uses examples and hypotheticals to illustrate each error. It’s clear and clever, and no doubt that you’ll start applying the lessons you learn almost immediately. It’s also a helpful guide for anyone who spends entirely too much time on decisions, whether from being overwhelmed by choices, taking on too many decisions, or over-thinking.
The only thing which makes this book a little hard to read is its brevity. That is, each chapter (of 99, recall) is only 2-4 pages long, which means you’re in and out of each topic before you can really take a breath. Some people (the short-readers and scanners) may enjoy this aspect of it terrifically, but the long-readers will find it difficult to sit down and just turn pages and read — it just doesn’t lend itself to that well, and I personally found it a bit frustrating, wishing he would slow down and take the time to really sit with something and explore it longer. Maybe some aspects would even solidify in my head better if they were tied together, rather than the somewhat more gimmicky approach of 99 chapters. That aspect is really just a matter of preference though and, as I already said, the book is otherwise quite fantastic. A great read, full of food for thought, but also easily approached.
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