The Art Of Thinking Clearly: A Review

The Art of Thinking Clearly
Photo Cred: Rolf Dobelli

In his quest to debunk common misconceptions about the way we view the world and how we come to conclusions in our daily lives, Rolf Dobelli himself speaks with a great deal of bias.

I was gifted his non-fiction book, ‘The Art of Thinking Clearly’ for my birthday last year & finally got round to reading it. As a huge fan of non-fiction writing a la Malcolm Gladwell, I was excited to sink my teeth into this fresh read. A couple of pages in, I found myself quite disappointed. The writing itself was great and I loved the crisp, succinct chapters, but the content of the book bothered me.

From his writing you can see he is not one of great faith (especially not in God and Christianity). He is a skeptic and lives life in doubt. He is not a supporter of the underdog, but a believer in the superpower of facts, data and the more educated. To him, there can be no other way to live outside of his single lens view. Oliver Burkeman of The Guardian pens a great piece on just how weak Dobelli’s argument is weak stating, “I’m tempted to call it the “clarity bias”: the assumption that those who don’t share your values aren’t just different, but are wandering, confused, in the fog.” And I have to agree.

Though I admire being challenged, I find – in reading his work – a sadness at his perspective on life. How can one live life with so much doubt and lack of faith. Not just faith in God, but a lack of faith in the possibility of outcomes that are not predictable. I find that to be cheating oneself of the beauty of life. After all, what is the purpose of living if we could not experience the unpredictable with an expectant heart.

The essence of this book that Mr Dobelli is trying to get across is to ‘challenge your thinking’. In as much as he encourages us to do so and as a believer myself in that notion, one cannot hope but feel that he has led readers to challenge everything and accept nothing. At the end of the day, what then does one live for?

In the words of The Script: “You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.” Dobelli seems laid out on the floor as his stance is filled with a great sense of helplessness.

Even in all the objectivity he preaches so fervently about, Rolf Dobelli illustrates great partiality to his idol and mentor, Nassim Taleb’s writing. The Art of Thinking Clearly is evidently clouded in bias.


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