|Okay, it’s my turn to be a curmudgeon (to read about a real, professional curmudgeon, see my upcoming review of Charlie Munger’s book). Virtually every time I turn on the cable news channels to which I am addicted, I get upset by the lack of clear thinking. It is amazing how few people can really look at even the most basic facts and sort them out in their heads. And often the “experts” they interview are no better; if they start talking to politicians it often goes even further downhill in a hurry. I am always keeping my eye out for good books about how to think, how to be logical, how to get real understanding out of the massive number of inputs and amount of data that streams past our eyes and ears every day. There are quite a few out there, but usually not comprehensive or not concise (a tough combination to pull off).
All is not gloom. I recently discovered this amazing book: Turning Numbers into Knowledge: Mastering the Art of Problem Solving, by Jonathan G. Koomey (Second edition, 2008, Analytics Press). It is a short, sweet catalog of methods for clear thinking, for solving problems and making decisions. Even decisions like picking stocks or evaluating public policies and figuring out who to vote for.
I consider this book a toolchest. It gives you many of the wrenches, hammers, and screwdrivers that the thinking person should have at their disposal – all the time, everywhere. It’s broken into 39 short, sweet, chapters in about 200 pages. The logic is clear, the illustrations vivid. If only every person read this book in high school! It is the best possible defense against being brainwashed or confused.
However many stars you give your favorite books, this one gets ‘em.