KPFA Radio 94.1 FM presents
Thursday, April 12, 7:30 PM
Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar Street, Berkeley
Advance tickets: $12 : brownpapertickets.com :: T: 800-838-3006 or Pegasus (3 sites), Books Inc( Berkeley), Moe’s, Walden Pond
Bookstore, East Bay Books, Mrs. Dalloway’s
Americans have decided by consensus that consensus is good. Psychologist Charlan Nemeth argues that this principle is completely wrong. Left unchallenged, the majority opinion is frequently biased, clearly unoriginal, or simply false. It leads planes and markets to crash, causes juries to often convict innocent people, provokes military attacks that are entirely inexplicable. Henry L. Mencken, the social philosopher known as the “Sage of Baltimore” said several decades ago that “Americans are deeply proud of being independent thinkers, of being impervious to media’s efforts to persuade them, but in reality— given sudden national headlines branding Canadians as child-eaters, Americans enmasse would be eager to attack Canada overnight.”
Most of us believe that we are open to differing views, and that we like challenges to our ideas. In practice, however, we’re conditioned to “go with the flow” rather than speak up when we think differently from the group, assuming that different opinions are just wrong. Charlan Nemeth’s In Defense of Troublemakers insists we can make better decisions by embracing dissent. Dissent forces us to question the status quo, to reconsider the mainstream, to consider more information, to think differently, to question the very nature of influence, to open our minds and engage in creative, evolved decision-making. From Twelve Angry Men to Edward Snowden, lone objectors who compel people to question their assumptions bring groups much closer to the truth. The author draws upon thirty-five years of research on dissent to highlight how it alters the way we think, and why there’s an upside to challenging the majority. In Defense of Troublemakers raises an urgent red flag about consensus and its potential perils, and motivates us to embrace values that encourage dissent instead. An essential read for anyone who has had to work with others, it will radically change the way we interact in groups, make decisions, and conduct business.
Charlan Nemeth is a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. Her work has been featured in Wired, Ode, the New Yorker and various media outlets. She lives in San Francisco.
Kris Welch is a veteran, very popular KPFA on-air host, a mother, and a devoted grandmother.