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The Art of Thinking Clearly

Posted in My reading table

The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli I am currently reading the Dutch translation, but by the time you read this the English version should also have been published. Rolf Dobelli hails from Switzerland and, to place him, has among others been CEO of SwissAir. He's in management: founded www.getAbstract.com, holding 100's of management book abstracts. This book has as subtitle: 52 thinking errors you better leave to others. Reading this will increase your modesty, because, as will be quite clear, those thinking errors are also comitted by you not just by others. Let me give you a few examples, first some that we know from audio listening tests (here I go again): Confirmation Bias, Authority Bias, Groupthink, Framing.

One could ask the question: if we are such sloppy thinkers, how come humanity has done so well the last few 1000 centuries? The point is, that all these biases, predispositions and gut reactions have helped us to survive in the daily struggle on the savannah. It's just the last few 1000 years that our environment has been totally reshaped, requiring totally different proficiencies that evolution hasn't had a a chance yet to select for. One thing evolution did select for was a sentient, thinking brain, and that now helps to compensate for the shortcomings in our traditional automatic responses.

The Story Bias: We make up stories to give meaning to events. In hindsight it is easy to see how Greenspan's policy lead to the collapse of Lehman Brothers (which cost me personally about 30k$). But we also make up stories to give meaning to our own life, and that is necessary because without a story our life just hasn't any meaning. We want, we need stories. See YouTube 'Google Parisian Love'. It's just a commercial, but cunningly packaged as a story. Brilliant.

Want to build one of my designs?

I am flattered but would also like us to agree on a few rules.

My designs are the best I can make them, including reliability and safety. A lot of effort, time and money goes into them, and I enjoy doing it.

Nevertheless, I have obviously no control over how, where or when somebody would use a design of me. Therefore, I cannot guarantee that it will do as advertised in all cases and circumstances. I also have to decline any and all responsibility for any damages, direct or consequential, resulting from the use of my designs. Sorry about that, but that's how my lawyer wants it...

If you want to build one for your own use, go ahead. It would be nice if you would let me know how it all works out.

If you like to use one of my designs for a commercial product, we can discuss the terms of such use. If you plan to make money out of them, I would like to have some compensation for my work and effort as well. Or, if you are in need of a design consultant for a project, let me know. I’m sure we can work something out to mutual benefit.