17 December 2022

Book Review: Are you thinking clearly?

Written by two journalists – Miriam Frankel and Matt Warren – this book will intrigue you if you care to understand how poorly we all think. The self-conviction we have about how clearly we think (albeit with some humility that we might be wrong at the edges) could not be more misplaced.

The authors fairly comprehensively cover the various variables that often cloud our thinking – yes, simply feeling hungry (or hangry as the authors say), make people make very different decisions. This has been proven by multiple researches.

It gets into how your thinking is influenced by what you eat (thru the gut), what language was your first language that you learnt, simple marketing tricks… about 29 such factors.

In the end, you will realize that you are not one uniform identity that thinks and makes decisions consistently. Far from it. We are all social beings that change our thinking or decision based on who we are with. Or who we were with.

I have to admit that while reading the book chapter by chapter, I found no “flow”. It was like moving from one independent variable that affects your thinking to the next one in a very disjointed way.

But in the end, you realize that – that is the exact point the authors are trying to make. Our thinking is not a smooth one – it gets affected by different variables and circumstances at different times. At least this helps you understand what is likely making our thinking murky even if we do not realize that.

I think the following excerpt from the book sums it up well…

“Despite what countless other books will tell you, positivity and optimism come with plenty of pitfalls – not least that they can make you overconfident, blinkered and gullible – and the relentless pursuit of happiness will likely only make you miserable. Nor is a high IQ the foolproof solution it is claimed to be – it doesn’t make us immune to bias, prejudice or mental illness, and it won’t automatically make us challenge our own thinking. To make the most of our intelligence, we also need intellectual openness, flexibility and conscientiousness as well as emotional stability and intelligence. And if you believe love will clear your head, think again. We all know how muddled and mindless that can make us.”

Posted December 17, 2022 by Rajib Roy in category "Books

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