There are several things I appreciated about Adam Grant’s terrific book, Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know. Here are few of them:
*Grant employs a wonderful selection of illustrations, graphs, and personal anecdotes. Teaser: the opening about what caused some firefighters to lose their lives while a few lived, is a strong hook to the rest of the book.
*There is a helpful discussion of why computers/AI will never replace humans. The description of the debate between Harish Natarajan and an IBM computer is entertaining as it is illumining.
*Though Grant seems more sanguine than me about the willingness of people to “think again,” I am grateful that he admitted some are not interested in “dancing.” For more on the dance metaphor, you will need to buy the book!
*I found the encouragement to see our emotions as a “rough draft” to be most helpful. At my better moments, I am more in tune with how a lack of sleep will make me more vulnerable to errant comments. At my worst moments, well…
A personal note: I have interviewed over two hundred scholars, writers, and leaders. Grant is in a small group who makes himself accessible to his readers. Kudos to him for this example!
Some questions/possible disagreements/what I would bring up if I were in Grant’s “challenge network”:
I reached out to Adam with my first question:
*Wonderful book, Adam! Truly. One question nags: How should wise decisions be made where a data-oriented/scientific approach does not illumine?
I think Bob Sutton captured it well when he defined wisdom as acting on the best information you have, while doubting what you know.
*Adam talked about the speed of information. I wish there had also been some interaction with both the amount of information coming at us, and even more so, how information gets democratized by most media outlets. In other words, the latest gossip surrounding Britney Spears gets equal play with an update on the war in Ukraine. We are constantly being told that everything is equally urgent.
*I think it would have added to the book to address how to go about motivating the “think again” process when so many grow up in homes where robust conversation and debate are not encouraged. In my own teaching about how to address controversial matters, I have had several tell me that they grew up in such homes. Serious and substantial conversations, let alone debate, was avoided at all costs. And the cost later in life is indeed great.
*Adam recommends that we think more like scientists. I think there is much wisdom in his prescription. I would have liked to have seen some interaction with the reality that scientists are hardly dispassionate creatures…though some of us may be tempted to think so! Like all of us, scientists operate wittingly or unwittingly with a philosophy of science. The work of Michael Polanyi is seminal here.
I am glad to have read this book. It got me to think again about my own thinking!
4.5 stars/5 on Amazon which in my grading is always adjusted upwards, so 5 stars!