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on 27 August 2013
This is more of a list with accompanying notes than a detailed exploration. Of course, given that the author covers a hundred individual thinking errors, you can't really expected a detailed and illustrated discussion of each, but I was often left wanting more information on a point. Therefore I think the book makes a good starting point for researching these thinking errors but be prepared to go to other sources on more than a few occasions.
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on 5 July 2013
I bought this because this genre interests me and it had a glowing reviews. But actually the writing style is simplistic bordering on patronising. The writer comes across as an enthusiastic hobbyist rather than an expert, and he presents some fairly obvious concepts as dramatic revelations. For instance, it turns out advertisers use pretty people to sell products (really, this was one of his breakthroughs). Having previously read Taleb, who is almost hero worshippes in Dobelli's book, I found the art of thinking clearly to be much less of a breakthrough. I would recommend Dobelli's book to anyone who has never thought about behavioural psychology before, but for most people Taleb is better (if in himself, a breathtakingly arrogant writer).
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on 31 May 2013
Short chapters and easy to understand,it also has some facts and statistic which can arouse some interest . Enjoyable read
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on 26 October 2014
In one important sense, we are already excellent decision makers. Each of us has a mind chock full of thinking gizmos that can draw upon millions of years of evolution without the conscious bits having to make the slightest effort. Interpreting a shadowy pattern as a person down a dark alley or following our instinct to stick with the crowd might mean that we make it home safely. In our ancestral environment, figuring out the truth about that movement in the bushes might have meant ending up as lunch for the tiger: better to be wrong and alive than right and dead. The intuitions and cognitive biases that have served us well throughout evolutionary history can, however, lead us astray in the modern world. And there are a lot of ways in which we can go wrong, more than enough to fill the 99 chapters in this handy guide (and this is far from an exhaustive list). Ralf Dobelli has distilled a huge amount of psychological research into bite-size entries that entertain as well as instruct, each chapter a nugget of scepticism in action.

Each chapter cross references other related chapters to create various pathways through the book. On a smaller scale, unexpected connections are often made between familiar concepts. For example, it may not be obvious that anecdotes are "a particularly tricky sort" of cherry-picking (which involves "showcasing the most attractive features and hiding the rest"). The links at the end of this chapter to the story bias and the self-serving bias illustrate just how much our brains love to consume mini-stories (a fact exploited by advertisers the world over).

One advantage to this approach is that readers won't be fooled into thinking there's a single, easy fix. Dobelli does, however, occasionally identify a simple and general takeaway message: "whoever hopes to think clearly must understand the difference between risk and uncertainty." Risk means that the probabilities are known. Uncertainty means that the probabilities are unknown. Understanding the difference is the risk literacy advocated by Gerd Girgerenzer in Risk Savvy: How To Make Good Decisions. Working against this is our aversion to ambiguity: we just don't like uncertainty, and prefer meaningless figures to nothing at all.

Another important theme (also explored by Girgerenzer) is the importance of emotions in decision-making. These are a different form of information processing, "more primordial, but not necessarily an inferior variant" to the explicit, rational thoughts generated by System 2 (for more on Systems 1 and 2, see Daniel Kahneman's excellent Thinking, Fast and Slow). Dobelli warns against thinking too much, lest "you cut off your mind from the wisdom of your feelings." He admits this sounds a bit odd coming from someone who strives to rid his thinking of irrationality, but he's backed up by research on the efficacy of heuristics in a world of uncertainty (again see Girgerenzer).

There are plenty of insights into how our minds work that do suggest simple solutions. We've all been guilty of procrastination at some time or other, and perhaps concluded that our lack of self-control is a permanent feature of our personality. So it's reassuring to learn that self-control is not available around the clock (it "needs time to refuel").

Two of Dobelli's personal bugbears will also be among the more controversial he raises. Have you ever wondered why we invaded Iraq or the banks failed? The real reason, not the sales pitch? Dobelli "can't abide questions like that" because they are symptomatic of the most common of all mental errors: the fallacy of the single cause. We are geared up for storytelling and causal reasoning but are less good at taking into account the thousand different factors about which we know absolutely nothing.

While this fallacy is ancient, the second "toxic form of knowledge" was invented only two centuries ago: the news. News is to the mind what sugar is to the body: appetizing, easy to digest, "and highly destructive in the long run." Dobelli wants us to kick the habit, completely, and "read long background articles and books" instead: "nothing beats books for understanding the world." While the short chapters in his own book are both appetizing and easy to digest, they should destroy nothing but cognitive complacency. His book might even turn you into a better decision maker (although remain sceptical of the publisher's hype that herein are the "secrets of perfect decision-making").
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on 16 October 2013
This is a clearly written book with very short chapters so that the points are made economically and without excessive verbiage. I strongly re4comment it as it exposes many of the fallacies that are common msitakes.
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on 17 May 2014
I hated this book. It displays all the trite 'smart Alec' traits that lead to poor thinking in the first place. In all cases I read the solution was presented as obvious; when surely the whole point is that we think poorly because we face a real dilemma. An example - "never pay lawyers by the hour" - because they then have an incentive to extend the job: the solution apparently is to have a fixed price contract. The ignores the obvious incentive on a fixed cost contract to trim the work, short cut the quality and simplify the problem. I imagined that the first task in thinking clearly is to think, recognise a problem, and then to forensically consider the alternatives; turns out it is all about some superficial but catchy rules.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 9 October 2013
'The Art of Thinking Clearly' is a slightly misleading title. Rather than being a systematic manual of instruction in how to reason, the book collects a series of short observations about errors in practical reasoning that bedevil all of us at one time or another. These were composed as newspaper columns, and the book has the episodic structure and absence of clear development that one would expect from such a compendium. Nonetheless, some effort has been made to draw thematic links between the separate chapters, so that the interested reader may follow particular themes further if he so wishes; and there's an index.

This may give the impression that the book is trivial. In fact, it is entertaining and lucidly written. It might be an ideal introduction to the problems of thinking for an intelligent teenager. The short chapters and episodic structure lend themselves to dipping, but most of what Dobelli has to say is reasonable and accurate. He may focus on the negative side of reasoning - how to avoid error - but if we could all take these lessons to heart the world might be a saner place.

The faults in reasoning that Dobelli covers in his ninety-nine chapters are quite various: everything from purely logical fallacies to intellectual misunderstandings of probability and psychological weaknesses receives some attention. Dobelli is well versed in recent science - or at least in the popularised versions of recent science - and properly sceptical of our ability to detect the most likely flaws in our own reasoning and protect ourselves from the consequences.

The book has been very successful and widely translated; as a taster, one could do much worse. A reader genuinely interested in the subject will probably want to look further, but there is no shortage of books, many written for students, that take a more systematic approach.
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on 12 August 2013
Rolf Dobelli has summarised in clear and engaging way a hundred of so errors in thinking that we all do every day. Reading this book helps to be more aware of the thinking and decision-making pitfalls. It helps you to see the wood despite all of those trees in the way.
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on 24 July 2015
Exemplarily written, each of the 99 topics are described with great clarity and concision in 2½ pages. Rolf Dobelli’s explanation and ‘cure’ of these biases is based on the recent findings of evolutionary and social psychology research, and provide fascinating and useful insights into matters such as Decision Fatigue, Association Bias and Motivation Crowding - to name just three. All are presented in a highly practical format.

It’s little wonder that this book has become a best seller, and it’s a pity that other writers of this genre (or their editors) don’t change their often clunky and waffling style and adopt Dobelli’s refreshing, direct approach. The book is worth every penny. (07/15)
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on 6 August 2015
This is a fascinating book, which approaches the subject of the decision making process and the flawed way we think in an easy to read and very accessible way.
The author outlines just shy of a hundred common flaws in the way we perceive and process information, giving each one their own little chapter where they are outlined with good examples and tips on their avoidance – as such this would probably make it a great book for dipping in and out of rather than reading through in one go. The author has a good sense of humour though and his background as a novelist is clear as the whole thing feels engaging throughout. An entertaining, interesting and recommended read.
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