The following changes have been incorporated into the second edition of the book The Art of Thinking Clearly. For all errors, inadequacies and omissions I alone bear the responsibility. I thank the readers and authors for bringing these to my attention.
The paragraph in Dobelli is a condensation and paraphrase of a longer passage and argument appearing in The Invisible Gorilla.
Chabris/Simons: It may come as a surprise, then, to learn that talking to a passenger in your car is not nearly as disruptive as talking on a cell phone. In fact, most of the evidence suggests that talking to a passenger has little or no effect on driving ability. Talking to a passenger could be less problematic for several reasons. First, it’s simply easier to hear and understand someone right next to you than someone on a phone, so you don’t need to exert as much effort just to keep up with the conversation. Second, the person sitting next to you provides another set of eyes—a passenger might notice something unexpected on the road and alert you, a service your cell-‐phone conversation partner can’t provide. The most interesting reason for this difference between cell-‐phone conversation partners and passengers has to do with the social demands of conversations. When you converse with the other people in your car, they are aware of the environment you are in. Consequently, if you enter a challenging driving situation and stop speaking, your passengers will quickly deduce the reason for your silence. There’s no social demand for you to keep speaking because the driving context adjusts the expectations of everyone in the car about social interaction. When talking on a cell phone, though, you feel a strong social demand to continue the conversation despite difficult driving conditions because your conversation partner has no reason to expect you to suddenly stop and start speaking. These three factors, in combination, help to explain why talking on a cell phone is particularly dangerous when driving, more so than many other forms of distraction. [p. 26]
Dobelli: And, if instead of phoning someone, you chat with whomever is in the passenger seat? Research found no negative effects. First, face-‐to-‐face conversations are much clearer than phone conversations, that is, your brain must not work so hard to decipher the messages. Second, your passenger understands that if the situation gets dangerous, the chatting will be interrupted. That means you do not feel compelled to continue the conversation. Third, your passenger has an additional pair of eyes and can point out dangers. [pp. 353–354]
Discussion: This is in the notes section. I summarized original paragraph, but did not reference.
Resolution: p. 354 reword to: „And, if instead of phoning someone, you chat with whomever is in the passenger seat? Researchers from the University of Utah and others found no negative effects. First, face-‐to-‐face conversations are much clearer than phone conversations, that is, your brain must not work so hard to decipher the messages. Second, your passenger understands that if the situation gets dangerous, the chatting will be interrupted. That means you do not feel compelled to continue the conversation. Third, your passenger has an additional pair of eyes and can point out dangers.“
F. A. Drews, M. Pasupathi, and D. L. Strayer, “Passenger and Cell Phone Conversations in Simulated Driving,” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied 14 (2008): 392-400. The paper is nicley summarized in Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us (New York: Crown, 2010), 353–354.
Chabris/Simons: In April 2006, rising waters made a ford through the start of the Avon River temporarily impassable, so it was closed and markers were put on both sides. Every day during the two weeks following the closure, one or two cars drove right past the warning signs and into the river. These drivers apparently were so focused on their navigation displays that they didn’t see what was right in front of them. [pp. 41–42]
Dobelli: After heavy rains in the south of England, a river in a small village overflowed its banks. The police closed the ford, the shallow part of the river where vehicles cross, and diverted traffic. The crossing stayed closed for two weeks, but each day at least one car drove past the warning sign and into the rushing water. The drivers were so focused on their car’s navigation systems that they didn’t notice what was right in front of them. [p. 263; opening paragraph of Chapter 88]
Discussion: I used and slightly paraphrased above paragraph, but didn’t quote. Referenced
Chabris/Simons in the notes section (p. 353), but not exactly for this paragraph.
Resolution: p. 263 use Chabris/Simons original wording and set in quotation marks. Then: „Above observation is from cognitive psychologists Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris. At Harvard in the 1990s, they filmed…“ / P 353 9th line from bottom: change pages from “1-42″ to “41-42″
Chabris/Simons: The “Nun Bun” was a cinnamon pastry whose twisty rolls eerily resembled the nose and jowls of Mother Teresa. It was found in a Nashville coffee shop in 1996, but was stolen on Christmas in 2005. [p. 155]
Dobelli: The “Nun Bun” was a cinnamon pastry whose markings resembled the nose and jowls of Mother Teresa. It was found in a Nashville coffee shop in 1996 but was stolen on Christmas in 2005. [p. 310]
Discussion: This is in the notes section. I used and slightly paraphrased above paragraph, but didn’t quote.
Resolution: p. 310 use Chabris/Simons original wording, set in quotation marks and reference to Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us (New York: Crown, 2010), 155
Chabris/Simons: “Our Lady of the Underpass” was another appearance by the Virgin Mary, this time in the guise of a salt stain under Interstate 94 in Chicago that drew huge crowds and stopped traffic for months in 2005. Other cases include Hot Chocolate Jesus, Jesus on a shrimp tail dinner, Jesus in a dental x-‐ray, and Cheesus (a Cheeto purportedly shaped like Jesus). [p. 155]
Dobelli: “Our Lady of the Underpass” was another appearance by the Virgin Mary, this time as a salt stain under Interstate 94 in Chicago in 2005. Other cases include Hot Chocolate Jesus, Jesus on a shrimp tail dinner, Jesus in a dental X-‐ray, and a Cheeto shaped like Jesus. [p. 310]
Discussion: This is in the notes section. I used above paragraph, but didn’t quote.
Resolution: p. 310 use Chabris/Simons original wording and set in quotation marks. Reference to ibid. (same page)
Chabris/Simons: In other words, almost immediately after you see an object that looks anything like a face, your brain treats it like a face and processes it differently than other objects. [p. 156] Dobelli: As soon as an object looks like a face, the brain treats it like a face—this is very different from other objects. [p. 310]
Discussion: This is in the notes section. I used and slightly paraphrased above paragraph, but didn’t quote.
Resolution: p. 310 use Chabris/Simons original wording and set in quotation marks. Reference to ibid page 156.
Taleb: I had dinner at the bar of a Tribeca restaurant with Lauren Rose, a trader who was reading an early draft of this book. We flipped a coin to see who was going to pay for the meal. I lost and paid. He was about to thank me when he abruptly stopped and said that he paid for half of it probabilistically. He thought for a moment and said, “Considering the alternative paths, you’ve actually already paid for half of this dinner.” (Fooled by Randomness)
Dobelli: Recently, I was at a dinner with an American friend who suggested tossing a coin to decide who should pay the bill. He lost. The situation was
uncomfortable for me, since he was my guest in Switzerland. “Next time I’ll pay, whether here or in New York,” I promised. He thought for a moment and said, “Considering the alternative paths, you’ve actually already paid for half of this dinner.”
Discussion: I paraphrased, but it’s Taleb’s original idea. I recall Taleb telling this exact story at a dinner in Switzerland.
Resolution: p. 118, 6th line from the top: „Taleb recounts this story in Fooled by Randomness: ((insert original quote)). // Notes section p. 331 add reference to Fooled by Randomness
Taleb: 84 percent of Frenchmen feel that their lovemaking abilities put them in the top half of French lovers. (The Black Swan)
Dobelli: 84 percent of Frenchmen estimate that they are above-average lovers.
Discussion: From Taleb, The Black Swan. However, Taleb does not indicate source in text or notes. Did he invent it? If so, why doesn’t he say so?
Resolution: In the notes section, P 317: “84 percent of Frenchmen …” from Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan, P 153. Taleb does not indicate source in text or notes.
Taleb: “What happened? The trick is as follows. The con operator pulls 10,000 names out of a phone book. He mails a bullish letter to one half of the sample, and a bearish one to the other half. The following month he selects the names of the persons to whom he mailed the letter whose prediction turned out to be right, that is, 5,000 names. The next month he does the same with the remaining 2,500 names, until the list narrows down to 500 people. Of these there will be 200 victims. An investment in a few thousand dollars’ worth of postage stamp’s will turn into several million.” (p. 158, FBR)
Dobelli: In fact, you can make a fortune with it by sending a few e-mails. Here’s how: Put together two stock market forecasts— one predicting that prices will rise next month and one warning of a drop. Send the first mail to fifty thousand people and the second mail to a different set of fifty thousand. Suppose that after one month, the indices have fallen. Now you can send another e-mail, but this time only to the fifty thousand people who received a correct prediction. These fifty thousand you divide into two groups: The first half learns that prices will increase next month, and the second half discovers they will fall. Continue doing this. After ten months, around a hundred people will remain, all of whom you have advised impeccably. From their perspective, you are a genius. You have proven that you are truly in possession of prophetic powers. Some of these people will trust you with their money. Take it and start a new life in Brazil.
Discussion: Idea from Taleb, however, needs to be upgraded to 100’000 addresses, because it’s not clear how you can make millions by just five correct forecasts in a row. Dobelli uses chapter induction.
Resolution: P 93, 12th line from bottom. After the word „Brazil“ add „Taleb describes this trick in Fooled by Randomness, however, with only 10,000 names.“ In the notes section on P 327 add the reference „The vignette with the stock market e-mails from Nassim Nicholas Taleb: Fooled by Randomness, P 158.
Taleb: I am not testing how much people know, but assessing the difference between what people actually know and how much they think they know. (The Black Swan, p 141)
Dobelli: measures the difference between what people really know and what they think they know.
Discussion: There is a wikipedia-article on the overconfidence: „implying that they think their knowledge is more accurate than it actually is“ . The wording is close to Taleb’s.
Resolution: P 44, 8th line from the top: after „… single estimates are correct or not.“ Print: „Rather, as
Taleb puts it, „it measures the difference between what people actually know and how much they think they know.““
P 117, 14th line from the bottom: “But not only journalists are underachievers of this skill. We all are, as Nassim Taleb makes clear with the Russion roulette vignette.”
P 207, 8th line from the bottom: Replace “Taleb traces this tendency back to the neomania pitfall: the mania for all things shiny and new.” with “Taleb, who uses above-mentioned examples of new and old technologies, coined a word for this: neomania, the mania for all things shiny and new.” (This change wasn’t even on Taleb’s list)
If you come across additional errors in The Art of Thinking Clearly or in any other of my books (inadequate or wrong attributions, inadequate or wrong citations, or any other factual errors), please send an email to my assistant Konstanze Klein.