"Think Again" by Adam Grant

Review by Borodutch

Stop reading this review and read or listen to this book. I'm not kidding. It is that good. I rarely wish everyone would have read a specific manuscript, but this is one of the exceptions. Still here? Let me explain why I loved "Think Again."

This book is short yet full of helpful information. It emphasizes why one needs to change opinions and teaches the readers how to approach the task. It sprinkles the data and research with fascinating anecdotes. For instance, Blackberry went from owning 50% of the mobile phone market to virtually nonexistent. Or how a person of colour convinced multiple KKK members to rethink their beliefs. Sounds like a superpower that you always wanted to have?

First, the author shows how humans are statistically more wrong than right in picking "sides" or having "sides." Second, Adam implants a peculiar concept in the readers' heads: most of the beliefs we hold aren't there because we made educated choices but due to mere chance. For example, if we grew up in different families, our ideas would probably differ too (or even be opposite). Third, the author suggests ways of not only rethinking your own opinion, but of how to change other people's ways too. Spoiler: you do so with empathy and reflective listening.

Here are a few more ideas I picked up from the book:

  • More successful "future forecasters" changed their opinion more often than less successful ones
  • When we cling to ideas, we go into preacher, prosecutor or politician mode — and this prevents us from rethinking the opinions
  • We preach the idea when someone threatens it — similar to blind faith
  • We prosecute others' opinions when we see flaws in them — especially when they oppose our ideas
  • We become politicians when we are trying to win over an audience to gather support for the cause
  • The more intelligent the person — the more difficult it is for them to rethink ideas
  • When debating and trying to "win" an argument, one must present fewer but stronger points rather than water down the arguments with a lot of weaker ones
  • There are (or were) people called "vaccine whisperers" that used reflective listening to great success in converting anti-vaxxers into responsible parents
  • Disagreements aren't battles but more like dances
  • People are more eager to "feel right" rather than to "be right"

Of course, there are way more wisdom nuggets here and there. You must read the book to find them. For instance, I dropped the explanation of the Dunning-Kruger effect because you all know what it is by now. Also, the author outlines various approaches to "win" arguments and not look like an asshole doing so.

Again, I recommend reading this book to everyone! It's a shame I only finished it now.