Personal observations on life

Errors in thinking

I have always thought of myself as a clear- headed person, someone who can be trusted to make the right decisions in most situations.

Then I read Rolf Dobelli’s ‘The art of thinking clearly’. In clear, elegant prose, Dobelli showed me what errors I have always been making, blissfully unaware. As a sort of ‘mea culpa’, I would like to jot down some of the errors Dobelli writes about, that I have often ignorantly made in decision making.

  1. Survivorship bias

That is, people systematically overestimate their chances of success.

For example, a young man who considers himself good at singing considers singing as his career, and sets out to become the next Freddie Mercury. He doesn’t realize that for every rock star singer, there are thousands of failed singers.Very few make it to the top. Similarly a young woman wants to follow the life story of J K Rowling, and starts writing stories, without realising that there are thousands of unpublished writers for every successful writer.

When I read this, however, I thought this was a very discouraging way of thinking. Then I realized that Dobelli was not being discouraging. He is just showing the reader the real picture, so that he may undertake ventures with a clear idea of what he is getting himself into.

( to be continued)

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