• How Minds Change

  • The Surprising Science of Belief, Opinion, and Persuasion
  • By: David McRaney
  • Narrated by: David McRaney
  • Length: 9 hrs and 33 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (232 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A brain-bending investigation of why some people never change their minds—and others do in an instant—by the bestselling author of You Are Not So Smart

What made a prominent conspiracy-theorist YouTuber finally see that 9/11 was not a hoax? How do voter opinions shift from neutral to resolute? Can widespread social change only take place when a generation dies out? From one of our greatest thinkers on reasoning, HOW MINDS CHANGE is a book about the science, and the experience, of transformation.

When self-delusion expert and psychology nerd David McRaney began a book about how to change someone’s mind in one conversation, he never expected to change his own. But then a diehard 9/11 Truther’s conversion blew up his theories—inspiring him to ask not just how to persuade, but why we believe, from the eye of the beholder. Delving into the latest research of psychologists and neuroscientists, HOW MINDS CHANGE explores the limits of reasoning, the power of groupthink, and the effects of deep canvassing. Told with McRaney’s trademark sense of humor, compassion, and scientific curiosity, it’s an eye-opening journey among cult members, conspiracy theorists, and political activists, from Westboro Baptist Church picketers to LGBTQ campaigners in California—that ultimately challenges us to question our own motives and beliefs. In an age of dangerous conspiratorial thinking, can we rise to the occasion with empathy?

An expansive, big-hearted journalistic narrative, HOW MINDS CHANGE reaches surprising and thought-provoking conclusions, to demonstrate the rare but transformative circumstances under which minds can change. 

©2022 David McRaney (P)2022 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"A combination of compelling overview and practical strategy . . . Convincing advice regarding a timely issue.”Kirkus Reviews

“McRaney makes a convincing case . . . and backs it up with what science has to say about ‘replac[ing] old ignorance with new wisdom.’ The result is an eye-opening survey filled with heart.”Publishers Weekly 

How Minds Change explores why some world views seem so stubbornly immune to reason . . . Hence McRaney’s ‘softly softly’ approach, inspired by conversational techniques such as ‘street epistemology’ and ‘deep canvassing,’ which sometimes trigger remarkable conversations . . . a world champion debater cannot change your mind; only you can do that.”Financial Times 

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Fascinating, nuanced, well-written, but…

There were plenty examples of the ditches the conservative mind can fall into, and no examples of the ditches the liberal mind can fall into. I know his book was not about this or that issue, but rather the processes of our thinking. However… It seemed to me like the deck was stacked so that the reasonable ideas generally associated with the progressive/liberal camp (LGBTQ+ rights, vaccination roll out, etc.) were lined up alongside the less reasonable or even fringe ideas generally associated with the conservative camp (flat-earthers, anti-vax, conspiracy theories). I found that a bit distracting and would’ve preferred a more even handed cross-section of examples, even an exploration of how a “good” progressive idea taken too far can evolve into a “bad” idea and go viral (Communism, some of the more fringe ideas around sexual and gender expression). Again, I know this book was NOT about issues, but the author’s choice of examples makes it a more issues oriented book than it needed to be in my opinion. Other than that, an immensely interesting book. Complex ideas clearly communicated. In an increasingly polarized cultural climate where it is difficult for people with differing ideologies to be in earnest conversation with each other, I think this is a book for our time.

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get You are Not so Smart instead

Big fan of David but this book left me feeling a little creeped out. The methods he describes sound great and no doubt can aid in real communication. After finishing and pondering it I realized that I don't live my life trying to change others 'wrongthink'. We humans are constantly manipulated and when we're doing it we call it persuasion. If it is as effective as suggested, it could be a very good thing but I just couldn't shake the thought of an army of empathic activists with the warmth and kindness of a Morman working me for conformity on 'the current thing'. I felt a heightened resistance to people with clipboards building rapport. probably just me...

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Is optimism a fallacy
?

Wonderful and structured look at persuasion and some of hardships of modernity. However concerning some wedge issues it seems that author chooses his own naive realism and of course one book can not cover everything. But it does feel that there is association fallacy at work when touching on politics and values. Also change can be horribly and hellishly wrong. Maybe in another book... As author says we are ruthless to other's reasoning and no so much to or own :)

2 people found this helpful

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Will change your mind on how to change minds

Do you think you are right most of the time? Read this book. Do you try to convince people with facts? Read this book.

“Street epistemology” may be my new favorite term.

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Excellent

This is a really good summation of a lot of research in sociology and psychology! I also enjoyed that the author himself narrated. A perhaps nitpicky complaint is that the book doesn’t engage in the philosophy of argument or persuasion in anything but a superficial way. But it also didn’t really promise to do so colon it engages much more with the psychological and sociological literature. The virtue of this focus, however, is that it doesn’t assume that human beings are always operating as disinterested rational individuals, and this gets us a lot farther and understanding why we hold beliefs or change those beliefs.

Overall, I highly recommend!

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We’ll-researched, we’ll-written exploration of the nature of belief and persuasion

I heard David discussing the book on the Econtalk podcast and thought it would be up my alley. It was even better than I expected. He does a great job of laying out the key ideas in a way that is accessible without being superficial. Narration was excellent. I’m going to buy the book in print and read it next.

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Loved this! Haven't changed my mind on that, yet!

Loved this! Haven't changed my mind on that, yet!

Great reminder to be patient and loving with yourself and others when exploring something that doesn't sit right...(even if it all crumbles)

...please continue to advance the discourse!

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Amazing

This book was so incredibly influential and has impacted my way of life. This should be required college reading

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Grateful to the author

I am so very grateful a book like this with its rich research references, stories and examples is available. I hope more people read this and consider experimenting with the methods. I know I will.

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Pretty good

Enjoyed hearing about the diff tactics. Good amount of fluff but the science was interesting, albeit not super illuminating. Thinking specifically about the chapter on visual perception, which is long and laborious and can be summarized with: reality is necessarily constructed by the mind.

Also, as an MD, thought it was hilarious that he repeatedly threw in asides about how ‘scientists’ and ‘doctors’ are impervious to the emotional forces described in the book. Ya, i think anybody who has looked around during this pandemic realizes that doctors are people first and so these principles also apply to “experts.”