The Art of Thinking Clearly
A world-class thinker counts the 100 ways in which humans behave irrationally, showing us what we can do to recognize and minimize these "thinking errors” to make better decisions and have a better life
Despite the best of intentions, humans are notoriously bad—that is, irrational—when it comes to making decisions and assessing risks and tradeoffs. Psychologists and neuroscientists refer to these distinctly human foibles, biases, and thinking traps as "cognitive errors.” Cognitive errors are systematic deviances from rationality, from optimized, logical, rational thinking and behavior. We make these errors all the time, in all sorts of situations, for problems big and small: whether to choose the apple or the cupcake; whether to keep retirement funds in the stock market when the Dow tanks, or whether to take the advice of a friend over a stranger.
The "behavioral turn” in neuroscience and economics in the past twenty years has increased our understanding of how we think and how we make decisions. It shows how systematic errors mar our thinking and under which conditions our thought processes work best and worst. Evolutionary psychology delivers convincing theories about why our thinking is, in fact, marred. The neurosciences can pinpoint with increasing precision what exactly happens when we think clearly and when we don't.
Drawing on this wide body of research, The Art of Thinking Clearly is an entertaining presentation of these known systematic thinking errors--offering guidance and insight into everything why you shouldn't accept a free drink to why you SHOULD walk out of a movie you don't like it to why it's so hard to predict the future to why shouldn't watch the news. The book is organized into 100 short chapters, each covering a single cognitive error, bias, or heuristic. Examples of these concepts include: Reciprocity, Confirmation Bias, The It-Gets-Better-Before-It-Gets-Worse Trap, and the Man-With-A-Hammer Tendency. In engaging prose and with real-world examples and anecdotes, The Art of Thinking Clearly helps solve the puzzle of human reasoning.
"A fireworks show of insights into how our minds work. If you want to avoid tripping on cognitive errors, read this book." Iris Bohnet, Professor and Academic Dean, Harvard Kennedy School, Director of the Harvard Decision Science Laboratory