Book Review

2015 Book 1: The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli


First of all, contrary to what the title suggests, it is not a methodical book which describes to its readers the actual art of thinking clearly. What it contains are 99 chapters about the fallacies, biases, effects, illusions, tendencies, and misconceptions of the modern day society.

The contents of the book are without a doubt interesting, but the format is what turns me off. Each chapter is a mini essay with a definition, proofs or examples, and conclusion/s all in 3 (roughly a thousand words in total) pages. Although possible, it’s less likely to explore an idea in detail – confirmation bias, for example – in such very short passages. Instead of ending each chapter with references to other chapters of related topic, the author could have gathered his points, organized the pros and cons, and elaborated an idea in longer but unified sections. This approach would have made his conclusions more convincing. There are other points, however, that makes his conclusions less convincing.

Since the book covers an array of topics, the author disclaimed that there are too may references to include in the book. Aside from the explicit quotes of other authors such as Mark Twain and Nassim Taleb, most claims do not include notes or citations. For a book that states “news is irrelevant”, you would expect a reasoning based on facts and studies.

Speaking of Nassim Taleb, well, Nassim Taleb was heavily mentioned in the book. At some point you could think that The Art of Thinking Clearly is a celebration of Nassim Taleb’s works. That thought might be an exaggeration, but do not be surprise if you (like me) end up getting a copy any of Taleb’s books yourself.

In summary, The Art of Thinking Clearly did not meet my perhaps very high expectations. My most important take-away from reading this book was the difficulty of giving a review on something I didn’t particularly enjoy.

Will I recommend this book to a friend? Not really.

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