"Clear Thinking" by Shane Parrish

Review by Borodutch

From the very first pages of "Clear Thinking," I was dumbfounded. Not because the things that Shane is describing have surprised me — entirely on the contrary. The book felt like I could've written it. And it feels like I did. Let me explain.

In 2021, I published my book "We Don't Live a Thousand Years," which discusses many points from "Clear Thinking," published in 2023. I'm not claiming that Shane has "stolen" my book — first of all, it would be nonsense for an established author to steal work from a no-name like me, and secondly, he probably already discussed most of the things on his blog. However, I had to make a conscious effort when reading the book not to feel... weird?

Anyway, we've probably read the same authors as Shane because I also borrow a lot of the points in my book from them. Also, sometimes we come to opposite conclusions — especially having different business experiences. For instance, our views on testing businesses with fake landing pages are opposites. Still, we even use the same examples occasionally — which is very unnerving.

On the other hand, I felt somewhat validated because Shane reiterated many points from my book. Even though it's all rooted in research, I did find it pleasant to see that a more authoritative source cited the same things. There is a catch, though: my book feels like "Clear Thinking," but on steroids, as it describes 4 or 5 times more valuable things — which is another reason I tell my brain to calm down.

Shane tries to teach the readers that they are not in control of their brains and explains some cognitive biases that he calls "defaults." These are the default behaviors we fall back to whenever we think irrationally or need a quick decision. Here's the list:

  • Emotion — we tend to respond to feelings rather than logic
  • Ego — we tend to react strongly to whatever threatens ourselves or our place in a social group (even when only perceived as such)
  • Social — whatever others do, we'll do too first
  • Inertia — if we're doing something, we keep doing it (keeping up the status quo)

Then the author describes that you don't have to be extraordinary to outperform others; you need to become better than yesterday's yourselves every day — this will propel you forward faster than others. Shane then proceeds to specify that discipline starts with the environment. Want to stop eating sugar? Don't buy sugar.

Afterward, Shane describes his decision-making process at length, which comes down to getting the best information you can call and acting on the decisions. Moreover, the author emphasizes that one could also take small reversible steps as experiments to avoid getting sunk into a bad situation caused by a wrong decision.

The book also touches on the most common weaknesses and strengths and how to avoid or improve them to prevent yourself from defaulting to emotion, ego, social, or inertia.

Hey, maybe you could send this review or just a link to my book (wdlaty.com) to Shane. Who knows, perhaps he'll find that our thinking aligns in more ways than one!