The Art of Thinking Clearly


People in America hate Rolf Dobelli. The Wall Street Journal and the Guardian both disparage his attempt at surgically dissecting our minds in order to teach us how to stop thinking unclearly. He may have failed. Let’s highlight some of his unique ideas:

He gives us a potted description of “loss aversion” theory: that we fear losses more than we covet gains. This idea is described in much more detail by Daniel Kahneman.

He explores an idea originally brought to the public by Nicholas Nassim Taleb: that we underestimate the risk of extreme events, or “black swans.”

He tells readers of Stanley Milgram’s “obedience” experiments, which revealed participants’ pathetic willingness to let authority figures subvert their own moral judgment.

He addresses Walter Mischel’s marshmallow experiment at Stanford, which concluded that children who could resist one marshmallow now in favor of more later would, eventually, become more successful as adults.

The list goes on for 99 chapters, each highlighting another human error in the manners of thinking. Yet, to err is human, to be irrational is part of our DNA. Thus, what is Dobelli accomplishing with his book; of what value is this book to the progression of humanity, or even your personal life?

For one, his chapters are intriguing, a bit exciting, and eye-opening. Being cognizant of your personal irrationalities will assist you overcome the fallacies of the mind. Meaning, one can extract the tricks of their own mind by recognizing them in this book and thereby refining the mind. Regardless of the criticisms published against this book, it is an art and mastery. Granted, it is a summarization of what Dan Ariely, Daniel Kahneman and others in their court have spent decades researching. But, the witty syntax and short chapters make it for a good read.

Categories: Mindfulness, Philosophical BooksTags:

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