Book Review The Art of Thinking Clearly

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Amazon link
The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli
Format, Ease of Reading & Understanding

I ‘read’ the audiobook version on the Scribd app. The Art of Thinking Clearly is widely available in all of the regular book formats and has been out long enough to probably be in your local library. It’ll most likely be under Behavioral Economics or Applied Psychology, but could get shelved under Business or Management. I’d rate it as Easy/Introductory reading level for both the language and the way it addresses the subject matter.

What is The Art of Thinking Clearly?

As the author describes it, this is a list of basic fallacies people fall into. He has fleshed out each idea into its own chapter with brief stories and examples. One idea that he describes is “The Law of Small Numbers”. The Law of Small Numbers is the idea that in a small sample any deviation will be more significant – he gives the example of revenue losses in small rural stores versus large urban stores – if you have a single shoplifter they’ll seem more significant in the smaller store.  He tells a story on how you could be fooled if you were in charge of the stores, making it a bit easier to read. There are around 100 ideas in the book and very short chapters.

If you have time, read the books that inspired this one.

I finished it, but felt The Art of Thinking Clearly was repeating things I already knew. He distills many of the ideas in Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely, and some of the books of Nassim Nicholas Taleb into one quicker, easier read.  I think if I hadn’t read the others, I’d probably have enjoyed this one more, but as it was.. it was just okay.  If you have the time, I recommend Kahneman or Ariely’s books over this one.  The one virtue this book has is that it is perhaps easier to understand, and definitely a faster overall read, than its sources & competitors. So, if you’re not that interested in the subject and just want a quick overview on not fooling yourself or letting others fool you… here’s a big list of foolish things.  If you become more interested, I’d suggest stopping immediately and switching to one of the other books.

TheSquirrelfish’s Review of The Art of Thinking Clearly

If you have the time and are really interested, I recommend The Irrational Bundle: Predictably Irrational, The Upside of Irrationality, and The Honest Truth About Dishonesty (eBook Bundle). It’ll cover all the same content and is generally better.  The one virtue this book has is that it is shorter, and definitely a faster overall read.

Book Review: The 50th Law by 50 Cent, Robert Greene Audiobook

authors and 50th law cover
Amazon Link

The 50th Law: Fear Nothing

Did you know 50 Cent was a Stoic? The 50th Law is to fear nothing.  Stoicism is part of this, but not all of it. A fearless philosophy is what you need to grow from a hustler to a media mogul. I just completed the 50th Law by 50 Cent and Robert Greene audiobook. I originally started the book because I was looking for The 48 Laws of Power. Then I saw this one, by the same business author and I thought “Narrated by 50 Cent” meant he’d actually be reading it. That was naive – he is way to big for that. The other author, Robert Greene, is the reader, although 50 Cent does speak briefly to explain the main idea for each chapter. It is then explained with historic examples, examples from 50 Cent’s life on the streets and a mix of philosophy, logic and other supportive concepts for why you should follow that way of life.

Educational Content

I think the most heavily referenced historical examples of the fearless idea in this book are Frederick Douglas, Napoleon Bonaparte, Malcolm X, Moses, although they are by no means the only ones. Joan of Arc, Hemingway, Amelia Earhart, Abraham Lincoln.. there are a lot of interesting stories here. I liked the matter of fact way life on the streets is dealt with – stories of slashing faces, rap feuds, and the lessons that could be learned from it.

Why Should You Care About 50 Cent’s Story?

Sometimes it’s easy to dismiss artists, and maybe particularly musicians, and even more specifically rappers as less serious. Yet, there is something to be said for the stories of how someone succeeded from hard beginnings – and you can’t deny either 50 Cent’s success or hard life. His music is for sale everywhere, and he has built a brand and a few companies. The audiobook was recorded in a studio he owns, his media company helped promote it, and I think you can say he succeeded in his goal of:

Summary: The 50th Law by 50 Cent, Robert Greene Audiobook

Overall: A good book of strategy from a rapper, a business author, and lessons from history and hustling.

PS, I listened to it on Scribd, but it’s also available on Amazon if you’re interested, hit any of the links or images 😉

The Secret Language of Plants & The Highest Frontier

“It turns out almost every green plant that’s been studied releases its own cocktail of volatile chemicals, and many species register and respond to these plumes.”

” the science of plant talk is challenging long-held definitions of communication and behavior as the sole province of animals. “

The Secret Language of Plants | Simons Foundation.

Plants are sometimes depicted as active cooperative agents of a gentle and friendly nature.  That is not so.  Plants actively compete, kill one another, and even these studies say eavesdropping may be more accurate than talking. Continue reading “The Secret Language of Plants & The Highest Frontier”

Brain Candy: Science Fiction Edition

Now, before you get up in arms: Yes, science fiction and fantasy can teach, and be worthy of respect beyond candy.  But I treat it like candy generally – binging on new authors, occasionally seeking the comfort of a re-read of an old favorite series..  Some favorite authors in this genre are: Tanya Huff, Lois McMaster Bujold, Elizabeth Moon, Mercedes Lackey, David Weber, Ilona Andrews, Devon Monk, Cherie Priest…  Some favorite subgenres: steampunk, space opera, contemporary fantasy, fairy tales redone.  I like character driven stories, but sometimes a good world will suck me in as well.  I don’t always include paranormal romance in this category, but sometimes if the world is good enough I do. I’m a sucker for a strong kick-ass heroine as well.  [cjtoolbox name=”Goodreads Grid SFF”][/cjtoolbox]

 

Pop Science & Micro Histories

I’ll credit this to the old BBC show Connections – I love finding out the trivia of where something came from, and a really in depth look at a very small part of our lives.  A perfect example of the Micro-History Genre is One Good Turn by Witold Rybczynski, about the origins of the screw & screwdriver.  He talks about early analogues, initial uses, the spread of uses, all the way into why we have different heads today.  I highly recommend it, and it’s a quick read too.  Popular Science?  Well, basically these tend to be overviews, introductions or explorations of specific scientific topics with language friendly to the layman.  One of the earliest books in this genre I remember reading in High School was Atom by Isaac Asimov about the subatomic world, and another I enjoyed very recently was The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart.  That one is the botany of drinks, a mix of micro-history, some organic chemistry, and fun.  [cjtoolbox name=”Goodreads Grid PopScience”][/cjtoolbox]

Immigration, The Devil’s Highway and an American Underclass

I highly recommend “The Devil’s Highway” by Luis Alberto Urrea, an excellent & comprehensive account of one group of men crossing the border. It tells you why they went, what they intended to do, who they went with and why they died (some survived). Emotionally hard to read at times, but an excellently written account.

  • “Today, we are protecting ourselves as we were in 1924, against being flooded by immigrants from Eastern Europe. This is fantastic…We do not need to be protected against immigrants from these countries on the contrary we want to stretch out a helping hand, to save those who have managed to flee into Western Europe, to succor those who are brave enough to escape from barbarism, to welcome and restore them against the day when their countries will, as we hope, be free again…these are only a few examples of the absurdity, the cruelty of carrying over into this year of 1952 the isolationist limitations of our 1924 law. In no other realm of our national life are we so hampered and stultified by the dead hand of the past, as we are in this field of immigration.” -President Harry Truman‘s veto message.
  • “I believe that this nation is the last hope of Western civilization and if this oasis of the world shall be overrun, perverted, contaminated or destroyed, then the last flickering light of humanity will be extinguished. I take no issue with those who would praise the contributions which have been made to our society by people of many races, of varied creeds and colors. America is indeed a joining together of many streams which go to form a mighty river which we call the American way. However, we have in the United States today hard-core, indigestible blocs which have not become integrated into the American way of life, but which, on the contrary are its deadly enemies. Today, as never before, untold millions are storming our gates for admission and those gates are cracking under the strain. The solution of the problems of Europe and Asia will not come through a transplanting of those problems en masse to the United States…. I do not intend to become prophetic, but if the enemies of this legislation succeed in riddling it to pieces, or in amending it beyond recognition, they will have contributed more to promote this nation’s downfall than any other group since we achieved our independence as a nation.” (Senator Pat McCarran, Cong. Rec., March 2, 1953, p. 1518.)

The immigration issue has been on the table for a long time. And it has been a touchy issue for as long. The issues of racism have been a part of it for as long as we have grasped the concept. The issue of security is newer. The tension between law and practicality has been magnified immensely in the new landscape.

Border security is essential to the War on Drugs, and the War on Terror, not to mention international trade. The immigration laws we have in place weaken the border. We do not keep migrants out, instead we create an industry that specializes in taking people illegally across the border. We need to have more information on who is crossing the border and we need to make sure everyone in America is in the same system.  Minimum wages, taxes, and capitalism itself all work when everyone is in the system.  If you’ve got an underclass who is routinely paid under-the-table it disrupts the very idea of regulated capitalism.  It’s bad for laborers, it’s bad for the people who pay taxes, it’s bad for the businesses trying to do the right thing, all for the benefit of a businessman who puts profit before country, laws and workers.