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Maxims for Thinking Analytically

By Dan Levy

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About the Book

This book will help you think more analytically. Doing so will enable you to better understand the world around you, to make smarter decisions, and to ultimately live a more fulfilling life. It draws on the maxims of Richard Zeckhauser, a legendary Harvard professor, who has helped hundreds of students and colleagues progress toward these goals. These maxims, one-sentence nuggets of wisdom that capture key principles for clear and effective thinking, are illustrated with practical examples from Richard’s colleagues and students. From these examples, you will learn how one colleague saved money on her wedding by thinking probabilistically, how Richard and his wife Sally made an agonizing health decision that significantly boosted Sally’s survival probabilities, and how the prime minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, used a maxim he learned from Richard 40 years ago to understand and deal with COVID-19 in his nation. This book provides vital insights for anyone who wants to think more effectively about the world. 

Iris Bohnet

Harvard Kennedy School Professor, author of What Works: Gender Equality by Design

This book reveals a creative mind and a caring heart. Richard Zeckhauser’s maxims help us become smarter and better. Analysis does not equal paralysis; it leads to wiser decision making. Join the thousands of Harvard students and faculty who have benefited from Richard’s wisdom: read Maxims for Thinking Analytically.

Richard Thaler

Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, University of Chicago Professor, and author of Nudge


Spending an hour talking to Richard Zeckhauser is like having a massive dose of wisdom injected into your brain. It can be hard to keep up. This book provides a sample of that wisdom in small and digestible chunks. It is a treasure.”

Marion Michielsen

Two-time world champion in bridge and frequent bridge partner of Richard Zeckhauser


Maxims for Thinking Analytically was a true eye opener to me. As a professional in a game which is based on probability, it was shocking to realize that I am pretty bad at estimating chances and using probability in everyday life.

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