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In Defense of Troublemakers: The Power of Dissent in Life and Business

In Defense of Troublemakers: The Power of Dissent in Life and Business

by Charlan Jeanne Nemeth


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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 truth — regardless 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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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780465096299
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 03/20/2018
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 344,779
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.10(d)

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

Acknowledgments ix

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

Notes 215

Index 243

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