We've decided by consensus that consensus is good. In In Defense of Troublemakers, psychologist Charlan Jeanne 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 and can make people think blue is green. It causes juries to convict innocent people and drives politicians riding the waves of public opinion to make dramatic mistakes. In the name of comity, we embrace stupidity. We need to stop. We can make better decisions by embracing dissent. Dissent forces us to question the status quo and think differently, leading to more creative and efficient decision-making. From Twelve Angry Men to Edward Snowden, lone objectors who force people to 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, make decisions, and listen to others.
Charlan Nemeth is a Professor in the Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley. She lives in San Francisco, California.