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

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  99 ratings  ·  23 reviews
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 convic
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published March 20th 2018 by Basic Books
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3.59  · 
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 ·  99 ratings  ·  23 reviews

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Apr 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
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 ...more
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
From the publisher ---

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 co
Dec 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: leadership
I would probably legitimately give this book 3.5 stars. The underlying concept, the power of dissent, is worthy of 5 stars. Giving freedom for dissenters and highlighting really the necessity of dissent in order to make the most high quality of decisions was an eye opening read.

The book provided thoughts and research that I had never considered before and made me more likely to speak up when I genuinely disagree with something or someone, even if I find myself in the minority. It also made me r
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
My opinion on this book is a bit divided. On the one hand, I feel the contents are must-know psychology/sociology information. On the other hand, I wish it was written better. The book gives much to consider regarding decision making and group interactions, and the experiments/studies discussed are fascinating. However, I think it could be just as powerful and enjoyable in about half as many pages, despite being a reasonably short book already. Some of the examples also don't really seem to supp ...more
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book. I give the hypothesis of the book, that dissent deepens our thinking and problem solving skills and is not the enemy we have been taught to fear, 5 stars. Its opening is strong. Overall, I felt the length could have been reduced for conciseness. I also had questions about research assumed causalities and conclusions at times.
Feb 06, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Every paragraph is written as if you hadn’t read the one before. Some interesting ideas in here but for the most part they aren’t groundbreaking.
May 21, 2018 rated it liked it
"...the value of dissent does not lie in its correctness. Even when wrong, dissent does two things directly pertinent to the example. It breaks the blind following of the majority. People think more independently when consensus is challenged. Perhaps more importantly...dissent stimulates thought that is more divergent and less biased. Dissent motivates us to seek more information and to consider more alternatives than we would otherwise, spurring us to contemplate the cons as well as the pros of ...more
Roger Smitter
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Nemeth wants us to raise dissent—especially in small groups that are making important dississions. She says too often we assume we have two choices in a decision-making group: Consensus or dissent. Nemeth wants to decision-making groups to think independently and challenge attempts at achieving pre-mature consensus. Dissent in a group should be used on challenge others to rethink their view of the decision. We should evaluate our work in a group not by how we came to an agreement but how we chal ...more
Doug Turnbull
Apr 06, 2019 rated it liked it
I get that allowing dissent is important. That could have been stated in a few chapters. I really wanted to know *how* to dissent. Politely? Passionately? Angrily? Can I dissent positively, but still not be isolated like dissenters usually are? Is there an art to challenging the groupthink without destroying your relationships in the process? Or is dissent valuable to the group, but always ends up sacrificing the dissenter (by making them hated by all)?

There were some tidbits on this from the bo
Nancy Murphy
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Dissent is critical if you want to generate more creative ideas, explore a wider range of strategies or solutions, and make better decisions. At its most powerful, dissent is consistent (don't compromise, but you can offer concessions) and authentic (vs. role playing or being the devil's advocate). Yet the lure of consensus is strong: we see value in numbers (the majority) and want to belong and be liked. We also suffer from confirmation bias--taking in information that supports our own beliefs ...more
G.F. Erichsen
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
We might like to think that groups of diverse people are good at making good decisions, but Nemeth makes a compelling that that isn't always true. She cites quite a few studies, most of them interesting, to support her argument that lack of consensus can be a good thing, as it leads to more thorough thinking.

Although Nemeth did discuss Edward Snowden, I would have liked to see more about how this concept applies to large entities such as countries, states or even large membership organizations.
A thought-provoking look at how authentic expression of differing opinions leads to more open, creative thinking and ultimately better decision-making. I think this should be a must-read for leaders of all stripes, in business and government and everywhere in between. At times it read a bit "research paper"-ish (this is what we'll be talking about, now we're talking about it, and in conclusion this is what we talked about), but it was an engaging and generally easy read, with interesting case st ...more
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books in this genre that I have read! Came very timely for me, and contributed to explaining a difficult situation I was in at the moment. "Troublemakers" in the title all depend on how you see dissent; if there is room for dissent, that is not making trouble, as the book convincingly explains. This book may give readers the courage to be of different opinion, but even more important, provide arguments to welcome dissent and differing opinions, and dealing with them in a good way ...more
May 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
The main premise seems to be that authentic diferences of opinion, whether true or false, encourage the majority to look more deeply into other ways of looking at or approaching whatever the problem is. Diversity of any kind is not essential, just a willingness on the part of the minority to believe in and advocate for their opposing view. A very interesting idea which causes you to rethink whatever method of problem solving you are using or have used which is exactly what the author advocates.
Mukesh Gupta
May 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
I got an advance copy of the book via Netgalley and liked the book.

The author talks about the importance of having authentic dissent and the role it plays in deciding the quality of our decisions.

The author is makes a compelling case and has succeeded in convincing me to change the way I moderate discussions among groups for decision making.
Tomaz Erjavec
Apr 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
Had more expectations about the book. Very basic, good known cases. If you have read any kind of about about crowd from Gustave Le Bon or someone else then skip this book.
Neemeth is good at research papers but writing books has still a lot place to improve.
May 28, 2018 rated it liked it
A reasonably good treatise on the power of dissent in broadening the mind, challenging groupthink, and spurring creative, non-generic solutions, In Defense of Troublemakers provides a thoughtful challenge to the conventional wisdom of acquiescing to the crowd.
Eric Durant
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Terry Pellegrino
Sep 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A must read for anyone interested in learning and growing. Dissenters and people with different opinions need to be welcomed and debated, not silenced!
Elizabeth Mabrey
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
A 100 page book stretched into 200 pages. Some sound ideas, but the repetition made it less effective, at least for me.
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Enjoyed the information in this book, though it was somewhat redundant. Could have been fine as an essay
Jim Connelly
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Jun 20, 2018
Mathew Pauley
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Dec 02, 2018
Jon Houston
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Apr 23, 2019
Alan Brenner
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Jan 26, 2019
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Dec 31, 2018
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Aug 10, 2018
Leisa Collins
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Nov 23, 2018
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Apr 20, 2019
rated it it was ok
Jun 09, 2018
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“Good decision-making, at its heart, is divergent thinking. When we think divergently, we think in multiple directions, seek information and consider facts on all sides of the issue, and think about the cons as well as the pros. Bad decision-making is the reverse. Thinking convergently, we focus more narrowly, usually in one direction. We seek information and consider facts that support an initial preference. We tend not to consider the cons of the position, nor do we look at alternative ways of interpreting the facts.” 0 likes
“Consensus narrows, while dissent opens, the mind. Both affect the quality of our decisions. The take-home message of the research and this book is that there are perils in consensus and there is value in dissent.” 0 likes
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