Book Recommendation: Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam Grant

This is a very useful book especially given the current fractious times that we live in. My guess is just about all of us needs to spend some time “re-thinking.” As the author correctly points out, “We live in an increasingly divisive time. For some people a single mention of kneeling during the national anthem is enough to end a friendship. For others a single ballot at a voting booth is enough to end the marriage. Calcified ideologies are tearing American culture apart.”

Re-thinking is not only useful for politics and debate but for every aspect of your life, including financial management, marriage, children, career, social relationships etc.

Grant provides a number of interesting people, scenarios and examples where re-thinking took place with very positive results. Probably the best example was the black musician Daryl Davis who persuaded white supremacists to abandon not only their membership in the Ku Klux Klan but more importantly their racist outlooks.

This is an important book that all of us could benefit from.

I have included some of my notes from the book:

This book is an invitation to let go of knowledge and opinions that are no longer serving you well, and to anchor your sense of self in flexibility rather than consistency.

Part of the problem is cognitive laziness. Some psychologists point out that we are mental misers: we often prefer the ease of hanging onto old views over the difficulty of grappling with new ones.

Most of us take pride in our knowledge and expertise, and in staying true to our beliefs and opinions. That makes sense in a stable world, where we get rewarded for having conviction and our ideas. The problem is that we live in the rapidly changing world, where we need to spend as much time rethinking as we do thinking. ( e.g. Mike Lazardis BlackBerry CEO)

Research reveals that the higher you score on an IQ test, the more likely you are to fall for stereotypes, because you’re faster at recognizing patterns. And recent experiments suggest that the smarter you are, the more you might struggle to update your beliefs.

When we are in scientific mode, we refuse to let our ideas become ideologies. We don’t start with answers or solutions; we lead with questions and puzzles.

We should all be able to make a long list of areas where we are ignorant. Recognizing our shortcomings opens the door to doubt.

In a meta-analysis of 95 studies involving over 100,000 people, women typically underestimated their leadership skills, while men overestimated their skills.

David Dunning and Justin Kruger published a modest report on skill and confidence that would soon become famous. They found that many situations, those who can’t… Don’t know they can’t. It’s when we lack confidence that we are most likely to be brimming with overconfidence.

Patient mortality rates in hospitals seem to spike in July, when new residents take over. It’s not their lack of skill alone that proves hazardous; it’s there over estimation of that skill.

“Arrogance is ignorance plus conviction.” Tim Urban

Achieving excellence in school often requires mastering old ways of thinking. Building an influential career demands new way of thinking.

Valedictorians aren’t likely to be the future’s visionaries education researcher Karen Arnold explains. They typically settle into the system instead of shaking it up.

Good teachers introduce new thoughts, but great teachers introduce new ways of thinking. Ultimately education is more than the information we accumulate in our heads. It’s the habits we develop as we keep revising our drafts and the skills we build to keep learning.

Think like a scientist. When you start forming an opinion, resist the temptation to preach, prosecute or politick.
Define your identity in terms of values, not opinions.
Seek out information that goes against your views.
Embrace the joy of being wrong.
Build a challenge network, not just a support network.
Learn something new from each person you meet.
Ask “what evidence would change your mind?”
Make time to think again.

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