The Art of Thinking Clearly
I enjoy walking between Veazie and Orono. Not only does it help
me save bus fare to put toward Joey cat's medical expenses, it's like
aerobic exercise without a hefty gym fee. All good, right? Not in
the eyes of some people who love me. They think I should bus instead
so I won't get run over. Actually, though, with my family's history
of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, a sedentary life style would
put me much more in danger of death and disability. Why can't I get
them to see that?
Rolf Dobelli, author of The Art of Thinking Clearly, has a good
explanation. Thanks to what he calls the availability bias, people
create their realities based on the examples that are easiest to
recall and don't take into account less flashy, visible results. So
we overestimate our chances of being offed in terrorist attacks,
chewed on by sharks, and run over by a semi in relation to
exponentially more relevant but more hidden dangers. In his book
Dobelli, backed by research and his beloved statistics, offers insight
into 99 often confusing aspects of human behavior including:
*why New Years resolutions so rarely work even when we make them with
the best of intentions;
*why so many people won't put down a book or walk out of a movie even
if they discover they don't like it;
*why negative ads predominate in elections even though we all (at
least say that we) hate them;
*why it's so hard to part with garments we never again will fit into
or see in style;
*why you should be very cautious with the premise: no pain, no gain;
*What horror writer Stephen King means when he urges you to murder
The Art of Thinking Clearly is a very versatile little book.
You can devour it cover to cover or choose the chapters that interest
you. You can read it seriously with a desire to improve yourself or
your organization or just skim it for fun. In fact it makes a really
nice light travel book for down times like layovers between planes.
I am amused by the fact that while Dobelli continually reminds
readers of our biases, he seems unaware of his. He often seems to
forget that we are not all rich, cis gendered, straight white men.
One chapter in particular sticks in my mind: the one on volunteers'
folly. He uses an example of a photographer who is paid $500 an hour
to show that those of us who aren't celebs help charities more with
money than labor. He seems to forget that the vast majority of us
aren't paid $500 an hour for anything (or at least anything we can
declare to the IRS). Many of us could not afford to give the monetary
value of our volunteered hours. Think minimum wage workers, at home
moms, seniors on fixed incomes. Then there's the very real question
my daughter brought up. If everyone just writes checks, how does any
work get done?
On a personal note, I am very proud of my son, Adam, who graduated
from Bangor High School with honors.
A great big shout goes out to Adam and his classmates! Way to go,
Class of 2015!!!
Julia Emily Hathaway
Sent from my iPod