Book Review: Think! Before It’s Too Late by Edward De Bono

You know I was going to do something semi-clever like review the book in the style of the Six Hats, but I don’t think I will for  a plethora of reasons.

Firstly, I can only really think of one hat’s contribution to this review, and the others would have far less of a say in things.

This book is awful. It is unbelievably, shockingly bad on every conceivable level. I could have spent the scant two or so hours reading it doing something far more useful, like vomiting, or sleeping, or being bored, rather than read another page of this dreadful treatise confirming my strong beliefs that there is absolutely nothing better than critical thinking and the scientific method.

Let’s get a few niggles out of the way before we get to the reflux-inducing filth-holes of my true discontempt. Firstly, by presenting this book the way he does, De Bono manages to crucify his own beliefs before he starts. By stating the weakness of the power of argument… in an argumentative format complete with defenses, judgements and side-taking, he has already undermined his position against the “GG3” (Socrates, Plato, Aristotle). Hey, De Bono informs us bromidically, Plato didn’t like democracy! No shit genius, but stating that as some position against Plato *or* democracy (he attacks both in the book) is a failed premise. Saying Plato didn’t like democracy is like stating the 1901 English Rugby team didn’t have synthetic clothing. The arguments here are rife- and that’s all that there is, even when De Bono suggests that arguments are useful in small doses, not the enormous repository of a book that is published before me. According to De Bono: the media is bad, psychology is obsessed with measurement, universities aren’t teaching anything relevant, schools are teaching too much mathematics and you have to play the ‘academic game’. Yep, you just spent $30 on a book that tells you stuff any 14 year old blogger could inform you about in an equally uninformed monologue.

And the repetitions! I’ll give my own take on De Bono mind games. Try some counting exercises should you read this book:

– number of times Six Hats are mentioned

– number of time he refers to that seven tribe nonsense in South Africa

– number of times he refers to a sportsperson being helped by his books.

His boastfulness is unparalleled. Anyone upset with Richard Dawkins alledged smugness should glance towards De Bono and his THREE FULL PAGES of bullet-pointed celebrities he’s assisted over the years. Ok he mentions it himself that they are ‘practical examples’ but when practical examples are quite clearly representative of 50% of the written word, something is awry.

De Bono’s writing style is painful. Its somewhat reminiscent of Nietzsche’s old little ‘shock’ passages with a quick remark to brood upon. However this is De Bono’s entire book, with paragraphs measuring no more than sentences long. They aren’t shocking either.

Imagine what would happen if this entire article was formed like De Bono’s book.

We would have these obscure little mumurings.

They would look like tangeants, but when they are just filler then, well…

Anyway back to it. De Bono makes barely a mention of where he gets his ideas, or evidence for them. I found his chapter on language positively archaic. Words are dead in the same way currency is dead. A profound ignorance of memetics and cultural shift leaves me wondering whether he feels stuck in the 60s.

I would like to say more, but my hands are quivering with rage after typing as much as I have done. This is quite simply the worst book on philosophy or psychology or thinking or whatever. Do yourself a favor and ignore it utterly. I’m sure De Bono has written some very good books previously, but not being one of the cultists I can clearly not see the emperor’s clothes with this latest, horrible, offering.


~ by freeze43 on August 17, 2009.

3 Responses to “Book Review: Think! Before It’s Too Late by Edward De Bono”

  1. Thanks! I was worried it was just me, but this is a truly horrible book. Seems to be written for a 4 year old with short words and sentences (hasn’t he heard of connectives?) (Perhaps it was written by his grandson?) What little I’ve read so far is littered with statements like “some people seem more curious than others” and that “many people believe that if you create a mess then you have created something new.” I paid 13 quid for that?

    Then, in his 3 page “I am wonderful” bit, he mentions the Hungerford Guidance Centre which works with violent youngsters. Apparently, the centre started teaching de Bono’s thinking courses 20 years ago. A study at the centre “has shown that the actual criminal rate for convictions for those taught thinking is less than one tenth of that for those not taught thinking.” A massive assertion, which needs some explanation, but all de Bono adds is the laughable “This statistic is fact.” For a bloke championing critical thinking, he needs to do a whole lot more himself.

    Really disappointed. My first de Bono book. Quite possibly my last, but surely he has written better stuff that this.

  2. Thank goodness I only spent $8 on this book, however, I could have bought some nice chocolates instead. Towards the end for some reason I kept thinking about Uri Geller, I can’t work out why. Po, is what this book was. Po (pronounced Pooh).

  3. I agree with you on some points, like Edward de bono’s repetitions. But I think you have misunderstood or missed the entirety of the message of the book. Maybe it is because of his style of writing which feels kinda dry or even arrogant sometimes.

    One of his main points is that critical thinking and argument which originates from Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, is excellent but not enough. The problem with that mode of thinking has to do with the “negative” and judgemental way of looking at things which undermines creativity and constructive thinking. Your Review of the book I think, is actually an example of the typical way of thinking in western society, which is “negative” judgment — no alternatives or concrete advice for improvements. Maybe if you had used the six thinking hats, like you mentioned in your review, you might have received fuller understanding of the book!

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