Close this search box.

A Book on the 99 Most Common Thinking Errors We Make

“My wish is quite simple: if we could learn to recognise and evade the biggest errors in thinking — in our private lives, at work or in government — we might experience a leap in prosperity. We need no extra cunning, no new ideas, no unnecessary gadgets, no frantic hyperactivity — all we need is less irrationality.”

This is my favourite quote from Rolf Dobelli’s “The Art of Thinking Clearly,” a book that explains the 99 most common thinking errors, or ‘cognitive errors,’ as science calls them.

Number 1 on the list is Survivorship Bias, the tendency to systematically overestimate our chances of succeeding due to overexposure to success stories.

You may have noticed this yourself: everyone seems to be doing great. They share their accomplishments and then tell you, “I made it! So you can make it too!” But the reality is that many people once embarked on that same promising journey, only to fail miserably. Where are those stories?

Some may share stories of failure. But, often, I find these are just success stories in disguise.

So, as Dobelli warns, guard against Survivorship Bias by “frequently visiting the graves of the once-promising projects, investments and careers. It is a sad walk, but one that should clear your mind.”

I recommend reading about all the other 98 errors in this book. Reading about them won’t help that much though. Becoming aware of when you’re falling victim to those thinking errors may help you think better.

“Less irrationality” — I’m fascinated by how powerful these two words are together.

And I agree: that’s all we need.

(I talk about “The Art of Thinking Clearly” on my YouTube channel too)

Fabio Cerpelloni is an English language teacher, writer, author, and podcaster from Italy. You can find out more about him and his work by clicking on his glass of beer in the photo.