An eminent psychologist explains why dissent should be cherished, not feared
We've decided by consensus that consensus is good. In In Defense of Troublemakers, psychologist Charlan Nemeth argues that this principle is completely wrong: left unchallenged, the majority opinion is often biased, unoriginal, or false. It leads planes and markets to crash, causes juries to convict innocent people, and can quite literally make people think blue is green. In the name of comity, we embrace stupidity. We can make better decisions by embracing dissent. Dissent forces us to question the status quo, consider more information, and engage in creative decision-making.
From Twelve Angry Men to Edward Snowden, lone objectors who make people question their assumptions bring groups far closer to truthregardless of whether they are right or wrong. Essential reading for anyone who works in groups, In Defense of Troublemakers will radically change the way you think, listen, and make decisions.
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About the Author
Charlan Nemeth is a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. She lives in San Francisco.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Fear Consensus, Love Dissent 1
Part I Majorities Versus Troublemakers: The Art of Persuasion 21
1 Numbers Rule 23
2 Even One Dissenter Makes a Difference 39
3 Dissent as an Art in Changing Hearts and Minds 51
Part II Consensus Versus Dissent: Closed Minds Versus Open Minds 79
4 Consensus Narrows Thinking-And Kills Rationality 81
5 Dissent Diversifies-And Strengthens Thinking 105
Part III Groupthink Versus Groups of Thinkers 135
6 Group Decisions: Often in Error, Never in Doubt 139
7 Better Decisions: Dissent, Diversity, and Devil's Advocates 163
8 Conclusions 197
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In Defense of Troublemakers is a compelling book written by esteemed psychologist Charlan Jeanne Nemet. It challenges the consensus that “consensus thinking” is the best way to approach matters of import because with consensus comes constraints. These constraints include limited consideration of various variables, viewpoints, vantages and obstacles. “The value of dissent lies not in its correctness,” opines the author, but rather in its ability to spur on contemplation. The book is riddled with interesting real-life stories supporting the supposition that failure to challenge the status quo can lead to less than desirable consequences. This book is definitely worth the read. It is both entertaining and enlightening.