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How Not To Be Wrong: The Art of Changing Your Mind

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  497 ratings  ·  54 reviews
'Passionate and brilliantly argued' DAVID OLUSOGA
'An admirably personal guide' MARINA HYDE
'Smart, analytical, self-aware and important' ALASTAIR CAMPBELL


There's no point having a mind if you're not willing to change it

James O'Brien has
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published October 22nd 2020 by WH Allen
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Oct 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
In his best-selling How to Be Right, James O'Brien provided an invigorating guide to how to talk to people with bad opinions. And yet the question he always gets asked is: 'if you're so sure about everything, haven't you ever changed your mind?' In an age of us vs them, tribal loyalties and bitter divisions, the ability to change our minds may be the most important power we have. In this intimate, personal new book, James' focus shifts from talking to other people to how you talk to yourself abo ...more
Sid Nuncius
Oct 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I thought How Not To Be Wrong was excellent. I don’t listen to James O’Brien but I enjoyed his previous book, How To Be Right very much and tried this on the strength of it. It’s a very different book, but just as good and just as important.

The message of the book is summed up in its penultimate sentence: “I have finally learned that admitting to being wrong is infinitely more important than using skills and tricks and weapons and tools to look ‘right’, and that there is no point in having a min
Nov 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"There is no point in having a mind if you never change it."

I enjoyed O'Brien's last book and was intrigued by the concept of this new writing and how he admits and accepts his wrong attitudes. The reflective and critical analysis of O'Brien's own experiences and opinions was a perfect introduction to exploring your own faults.

A brilliant example of how to critically analyse your own opinions and beliefs to become a better and more understanding human being.
Rebecca Higgins
Nov 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing

I’m a big fan of James O’Brien I listen to him everyday on LBC and I couldn’t wait to read this book and I was not disappointed. This book is honest and heartfelt and I would definitely recommend.
Oct 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
A very honest look at James O'Brien's personal views on a selection of topics, which he held passionately and insistantly and how he came to realise he was wrong and change his mind. There are some deeply personal, vulnerable and revealing things here, from his days at school to adult reactions to obesity and the legitamate confusion of trans issues.

His recounting of his corperal punishment as a young boy at boarding school are honestly heartbreaking and it's a very interesting look at how that
Courtney Goodridge
Nov 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
A really honest book from James O’Brien. It’s fair to say that O’Brien is an intellectual idol of mine. However, if I had discovered him earlier in my life (as he describes in his book), I would’ve disliked him greatly. Some of his opinions and standpoints were grossly wrong, but he admits that in the book. It’s refreshing to see somebody analyse their old opinions and how they came to change their mind. His last book taught me not to stop at “what I think”, but to go further and explain “WHY I ...more
Oct 31, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audiobooks
I very much enjoyed James’ first book, but struggled with this one. I thought parts of it were great and it was excellent to see a man being so open about therapy and his feelings. It lost me in the second half - he spent a lot of time listing all his previously awful opinions (and as I am not a radio listener this was the first time I heard them) which I found distasteful. Parts of this book were also clearly intended to be jabs at Piers Morgan and his ilk, which I found uninteresting to read - ...more
Nov 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I've enjoyed listening toJames O'Brien on the radio, regularly dismantling other people's opinions on a wide variety of subjects. Many of his viewpoints I agree with: the one's I don't I have sometimes found myself shouting frustratedly at the radio. Either way, it's entertaining.

This book follows on from his previous best seller How To Be Right, and his focus shifts from looking outward and always trying to win the argument to looking inside and discovering (partly via counselling) why he think
Sarah Bates
Dec 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
I thought this was good. Challenging and insightful and I learned quite a bit from it. It reads a bit like some newspapers columns stuck together, but is really worth that bit of excess. It made me rethink my various more robust views and find ways of accepting the views of others more easily.
The author starts off with a W B Yeats quote, “the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”( Could this apply to Trump supporters I wonder? ) He has the analogy of “footballification” where we are split into 2 tribes where we are totally biased. This is seen where no common ground is found and disagreement turns to enemy and even hatred. The author has his own program on radio where he invites people to phone
Nov 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review is available along with many others on my blog:

“Opinions are made to be changed – or how is truth to be got at?” - Lord Byron

James O’Brien has made a career of being forcefully right on his radio show and exposing the holes in the often firmly held beliefs of people phoning in. In this latest book, however, he turns his interrogative skills onto himself and his own opinions and in doing so presents something that is universally helpful.

The state
Michael May
Nov 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Honesty that Challenges

James O'Brien is a UK radio presenter who divides opinion. His latest book "How Not to be Wrong" is excellent. His willingness to admit mistakes and to change his mind while at no stage letting lazy thinking off the hook is what riles so many others. Interestingly, he takes this approach to his own opinions, something that is so difficult to do.
I could quote much from his book, but share just a few headline quotes...
"There should be no shame in admitting to be wrong."
Dec 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
There is a lot packed into this very readable book. Mr O’Brien considers why we stick to opinions without evidence and why we are so loathe to change our minds or admit we are wrong. The author shows how intelligence almost demands an ability to rethink our position in the face of contrary evidence. He gives examples of conversations from his radio phone in - and they act brilliantly to describe and illustrate the points. I found myself wanting to listen to his programme and I dislike radio phon ...more
Robert Cain
Nov 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
British commentator James O’Brien is currently one of the leading broadcasters in the nation with over 1.2 million weekly listeners. With “How Not To Be Wrong”, he goes in the opposite direction, turning the mirror towards himself and looking back on his own prejudices and contentious attitudes. In doing so, he makes the case for having a rethink and as the title suggests, it’s difficult to admit you were wrong; the writer does so many times here.

The book is very much a response to “How to be Ri
Oct 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs, 2020
In his bestselling How To Be Right, James provided an invigorating guide to how to talk to people with bad opinions. And yet the question he always gets asked is ‘If you’re so sure about everything, haven’t you ever changed your mind?’
Coloured with stories of changing minds from the incredible guests on his podcasts and callers to his radio show, and spanning big ideas like press regulation and brexit, through to playful subjects like football and dog-ownership, How Not To Be Wrong is packed wit
Lou Barber
Oct 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book opens with the line that 'there is no point having a mind if you never change it'. In a world that is increasingly polarised and blind to anyone else's opinion, this is a much needed look at how healthy it is to admit that you are sometimes, if not often, wrong. A personal journey into therapy following the ill-health of a loved one, this is an honest account of one man's ability to be proved wrong by other people's lived experiences. Tackling subjects such as discrimination, obesity, ...more
Nov 18, 2020 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed James O'Brien's first book, How To Be Right… in a World Gone Wrong, but I had a hard time with this one. I liked the more personal approach in this book when talking about contentious topics like stop-and-search, laying bare how and why he changed his opinions about the topics in question, but I felt like the tone sometimes shifted more into a sort of public self-flagellation for committing the crime of wrongthink.

I liked how O'Brien talked about being in therapy and how/why it
Adam Woods
Dec 02, 2020 rated it liked it
I like James O’Brien. I find him to be, by and large, intellectually honest and I find his topics to be interesting and his takes on those topics, thought provoking. And this book is no different.


O’Brien has a rare ability to delve deeper into social issues than most people would care to go and yet still be incredibly reductionist in his conclusions. The premise of How Not to be Wrong is that it’s okay, nay it’s healthy, to change your mind. And I subscribe to that idea - perhaps even more
Dec 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
I loved James' book 'How to be Right in a World Gone Wrong' and although I don't listen to his radio show, I do enjoy listening to James when I hear him speak at events. His latest book is refreshing, especially in the current climate of aggressive politics and social media, where admitting you were wrong about something is a bad thing and used to disparage your other opinions. This book covers different topics that James has changed his mind about, or at least acknowledges the 'other side' of t ...more
Steven Feldman
Dec 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
“How not to be Wrong” is James O’Brien’s latest book following on from “How to be Right”

O’Brien is the Marmite of radio chat show presenters, I am a fan but a critical one. His technique of persistent questioning and focus enables him to ridicule people he doesn’t agree with in a seemingly reasonable way. It’s entertainment but sometimes it feels cruel.

How to be Right was quite a self righteous book using sequences from the chat show to illustrate how questioning can puncture firmly held beliefs
Michelle B
Oct 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
James O’Brian’s second book is brilliant. It is aptly started with the sentence, ‘there is no point having a mind if you never change it’. What may seem like a weakness to some, is actually a real strength.
James comes to the book having gone through a process of self-examination and therapy. This has had a profound effect on him and coupled with the impact of many of the callers to his show, he has changed his opinions on many subjects. I would say this has changed the author for the better.
Steve Angelkov
Nov 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2020
I used to listen extensively to O'Brien and his coverage of Brexit on LBC News Radio.

His style of unpicking a nonsensical viewpoint was very refreshing, from a radio station that had Nigel Farage and Nick Ferrari on it.

His MO is a fact based proposition, which I think the mainstream media should adhere to more, holding contributors accountable for throw away unsubstantiated comments.

The net outcome of this however, can be a condescending interviewing style, if statements cannot be 'fact check
Nov 22, 2020 rated it liked it
I'm very clearly not the intended audience for this book--I'm not only not British, I had never heard of this British radio-call-in-show-turned-author until I read a retweeted tweet thread by him about this book a few weeks ago. But my faith in humanity (especially white dude humanity) has been badly shaken in 2020, and I figured that a book that consisted entirely of one dude walking the readers meticulously through some of the times he was wrong on the air (and why he made those mistakes at th ...more
Chiara Pinto
Nov 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a book about being able to change your mind rather than dig deeper and get more entrenched when you feel threatened. It feels more vital than ever in this time of tribalization and echo chambers to actually be able to talk to each other, empathize and reach compromises rather than being stuck in our own little silos. James illustrates it with examples of where in hindsight he got things wrong and also suggest useful question to ask ourselves. He is also a huge advocate for therapy as bei ...more
David Pain
Nov 11, 2020 rated it it was ok
Tedious and dull. Love JO'B and listen to him most days but this is not a good read.

There's a missing part of biography about the event that led him to therapy. I understand that he felt it inappropriate to share but it's like saying someone saying, "you won't believe what I heard today... Oh no I can't tell you".

Most of the book is James publicly self-flagellating in long form for previous views or comments. Even though addressing your own views is a good point, it does not make a good book in
Nov 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Another excellent book from James O’Brien. Whereas his first dealt with how to interact with those around you who hold different (and baseless) opinions on contentious topics, this one addresses an equally vital challenge of the modern world - how to change your mind. With contemporary society ever more divisive and polarising, the art of seeking out new evidence and changing your opinion as a result is alarmingly thin on the ground. Using his own experience and prejudices to illustrate his poin ...more
Michael Owen
Dec 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The opening paragraph hits the preverbial nail on the head.

"There is no point having a mind if you never change it. We should change our minds when we realise we are wrong... And there should be no suggestion that admitting to being wrong about something somehow dilutes our overall credibility or reduces the liklihood of us being right about anything else."

There are so many reasons why we find this so difficult. James explores his own past experiences and reveals how these have sometimes influen
Jan 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
James O'Brien takes us on a journey through his own introspection and I found it so refreshing to read, in a world where political discourse has become so 'tribal'.

I really admire the fact that he speaks of some subjects where he has not entirely made up his mind yet, and others which he has changed his mind about. I like that he also includes transcripts from his LBC calls where he concedes that he might react differently if those calls were to happen today.

My own reflection after reading this
Oct 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Holding up a mirror to middle class views and how we have formed bias conscious and unconscious from our family, education and social setting. This is then fed into by the popular press and social media.
James makes for uncomfortable reading at time but challenges beliefs and where they come from. If you cannot agree to see an opposing side of a discussion this is not the book for you. Expands the thought process and hopefully gives you things to think about.
Laura Richardson
Nov 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
I was not sure what to expect with this book but found myself pleasantly surprised.

James O'Brien details how he has changed his opinions on controversial topics but he also explains his reasoning on why he held those opinions and why they have changed.

The pages turned themselves, this was a very easy read and thoroughly enjoyable,

This book also described James's personal life including his adoption and how that has shaped his life.
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James Edward O'Brien is an English radio presenter and podcaster. He is one of the presenters on talk station LBC, presenting on weekdays between 10 am and 1 pm, hosting a phone-in discussion of current affairs, views and real-life experiences. He hosted a weekly interview series with JOE titled Unfiltered with James O'Brien. He has previously occasionally presented Newsnight for the BBC. ...more

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