Book Notes: The Art of Thinking Clearly

The Art of Thinking Clearly

“The Art of Thinking Clearly”, written by Rolf Dobelli, is a really interesting book. It gives some how-tos on critical thinking.


Break Confirmation Bias

One of the traps that we easily fall into is “confirmation bias”. It means that when we have an opinion in mind, we usually seek for evidence or proof to confirm it, rather than disconfirm it. We can even ask questions in a way that guide others to give us answers that we want to hear.

It’s a natural tendency. We, of course, hope what we say or do is right. It’s discomforting to learn that we are wrong, even though that can be true.

How to break it?

Find ways to get disconfirming evidence, know that we need to go through trials and errors to get the truth.


Break Action Bias — Take Your Time to Understand the Problems, Then Act

“Action bias”: when facing some circumstance, people tend to act and do “something”, instead of waiting and taking more time to think. Waiting can make some people really uncomfortable, so they would rather act and make themselves look active, even if it achieve nothing.

Quote from the book:

In new or shaky circumstances, we feel compelled to do something, anything. afterward, we feel better, even if we make things worse by acting too quickly.


This happened quite often when I just started working in the design arena. At that time, I was so new to this field and all the knowledge I had was self learned. Even though I was not afraid of learning, I worried a lot that people would think me “not qualified” for a designer job. Therefore, I really wanted to prove myself. When a problem was presented to me, I jumped right in to look for solutions, hoping that this kind of quick act can show that I was a quick thinker, or smart, or decisive. After all, people just needed the solutions part, right?

Totally wrong. I often found out that others can easily point out holes from my proposed solutions, and we ended up having to go back to understanding the original problem better. It was not until that time, I came to realize that I didn’t even have a clear understanding about the problems themselves.

How to break the “action bias”?

Understanding the situation first, do not rush into finding solutions. If a situation is unclear, hold back and assess your options.


Book cover image source

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