Episode#3 – The Art of Thinking Clearly

The Art of Thinking Clearly

by Rolf Dobelli


The book in one sentence

The book lists 52 situations where your thoughts lead you to a wrong understanding, an irrational decision or self-manipulation.


My personal opinion

The Art of Thinking Clearly is written in an entertaining and straight way. To explain the different biases and thinking patterns, Rolf Dobelli uses a lot of stories and situations from his own life. I personally like this style because it makes the book more entertaining. He gives some background on how scientists discovered certain biases and how they are related to the history of humankind. Quite interesting! From a content perspective the book reminds me of Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow. A book which I like as well!

Knowing the different biases and patterns makes me more aware of my own way of thinking. It makes it easier to realize this and rethink situations or decisions more rational. I noticed that I act calmer to stressful situations, too. Being aware of these biases and patterns helps me to step back and see situations from a different perspective, being more empathetic towards other people.

The book was a gift from my former manager, Dr. Carsten Holtmann. Thank you very much!


To whom I would recommend this book

Well, knowing the different biases and thinking patterns is beneficial for everyone, I guess. For me, the main reason is the better understanding of human thinking to show greater empathy. That’s why I would recommend it to everyone!


What I learned from this book

  • Do not mix up cause and outcome.
  • Be careful about predictions by experts. Especially when they have an own interest in their prediction it is likely that their forecasts are not that objective.
  • Be aware of group psychology: something is not right because many people say so (Social Proof). People do not tell their own opinion since it is easier to say yes and avoid an argument (Group Thinking). If you cannot see the individual contribution, people tend to lower their own performance (Social Loafing).
  • If you have to decide about an ongoing project, do not decide based on what you already invested in it (time, money…) your “sunk costs” won’t lead you to a healthy decision…
  • Be aware of the effect of reciprocity: give and take – even small gifts will influence somebody
  • Be critical about the opinion of an authority. Only because someone owns a high rank, it does not mean she or he is always right. Challenge them as well as you would challenge your peers or team members. Important to lead by example regarding this point!
  • Do not get fooled by the “Success Monkey”. Haha, okay, you have to read the book to get this joke. The learning: do not rate a decision only based on its outcome.
  • Less is more: first, if you can select something from a broad offer, you will decide slowly. Second, a broad offer lead to worse decisions. Third, a broad offer leads to dissatisfaction. Today, “good enough” can sometimes be the best.
  • If an unclear issue comes up, don’t act immediately. Humans tend to be active since it feels better than doing nothing. Practice to stand the uncertainty


Want to read this book?

Check it out on Amazon.com – Die Kunst des klaren Denkens by Rolf Dobelli



Thanks to the publisher for printing such a great book!