I am Right, You are Wrong

i am rightI read De Bonos, I am Right, You are Wrong (1990) some years ago however the points within it have stuck with me.    I think one reason for this is in some of the descriptions he uses to describe his understanding of how the brain works.   His description of a group of octopus (or is that octopi?) holding tentacles was one which I found particularly memorable.

De Bono explains in some detail how the processes of our brain tend to lead us down a specific pathway therefore blinding us from opportunities which may exist.    He explains how awareness of this fact and various lateral thinking techniques can allow us to address this limitation.    This all aligns with some of the ideas presented in the book I am currently reading, The Invisible Gorilla, as well as in some of my other recent reads including Thinking, Fast and Slow.

The key message from the book as far as I see it is that our brain has evolved in a specific way in order to ensure that we, the human race, have survived.  The issue is that the world has now changed and therefore some of the features of our brains and the processes they use, are no longer appropriate and can in fact have a limiting impact.

A perfect example of this is the concept De Bono raised of categorization.   This is a subject on which I have written a few times.    De Bono draws our attention to what he refers to as “Knife edge discrimination” in that terms such as innocent and guilty are interpreted as clearly being opposites and mutually exclusive.  This is not always the case in the real world where a judgement will depend on the perception of those viewing the situation and making a judgement.     This therefore has an impact on our ability to problem solve and develop ideas as ideas are categorized as either valid or invalid with invalid ideas being discarded and valid ideas being further developed.   As a result some invalid ideas which could possibly have been developed into highly successful solutions are discounted early on and never revisited.

Having read De Bonos I am Right, You are Wrong, I then went on to read a number of his other books however I found none quite as interesting as I am Right, You are Wrong.    In addition I can see parallels between De Bonos work and the work of the authors of more recent books I have read including Drive, Thinking, Fast and Slow and The invisible Gorilla.    I would highly recommend reading this book if you haven’t previously done so.