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Review of Subtract: The untapped science of less by Leidy Klotz

In Subtract, Leidy Klotz argues for the value of simplifying before complicating in the spirit of the KISS principle. He quotes Lao Tzu who wrote, “To attain knowledge add things every day. To attain wisdom subtract things every day.”

Leidy Klotz discusses many examples of how we over-complicate life and shares many of the experiments that have been conducted by his team and others. They often show the hujan tendency to solve problems by adding rather than subtracting, even though subtracting is often the simpler solution. It can be difficult to understand why we have this tendency despite the biological limits on the amount of information that we can process.

Other behavioural scientists have written about the ‘paradox of choice’ and the bounds of rationality, but this is the first book to look at the problem from many different perspectives. Herbert Simon, one of the founding fathers of behavioural economics, wrote that, “A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention”. This book explains why.

 

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