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Publisher's Summary

A fascinating exploration of the powerful forces that shape who we choose to listen to and believe, why talented and qualified people are ignored, and how these "messengers" influence society. 

We live in a world where proven facts and verifiable data are freely and widely available. Why, then, are self-confident ignoramuses so often believed over thoughtful experts? And why do details such as a person's height, relative wealth, or Facebook photo influence whether or not we trust what they are saying?

In this revelatory book, Stephen Martin and Joseph Marks explain how in our uncertain and ambiguous world, the messenger is the message. We frequently fail to separate the idea being communicated from the person conveying it, they argue: the status or connectedness of the messenger become more important than the message itself. 

Through memorable storytelling, we see how messengers influence business, politics, local communities, and our broader society. And we come to understand the forces behind the most infuriating phenomena of our modern era: why fake news is so readily believed, how presidents can hawk misinformation and flagrant lies yet remain influential, and why 17 million UK citizens were convinced by the overconfident claims of a group of self-interested Brexit campaigners.

©2019 Stephen Martin and Joseph Marks (P)2019 PublicAffairs

Critic Reviews

"Who do we believe, and why do we believe them? Messengers explains why we listen to the powerful-and sometimes the not so powerful-and what distinguishes the messengers we listen to from the ones we don't. A book that's as entertaining as it is timely and important." (Adam Alter, New York University, author of Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked)

"Whenever we listen to a presentation, scroll through social media, or glance at the television, the question-Whom should we believe? -confronts us. Martin and Marks marshal an array of evidence to deliver a clear, compelling, and sometimes disturbing answer. Some books help us become better citizens. Others help us perform better at our jobs. This remarkable book somehow manages to do both. Messengers is an essential read for everyone." (Daniel H. Pink, author of When, Drive, and A Whole New Mind)

"A powerful, profoundly illuminating exploration of one of the most important subjects of our time. Martin and Marks have a terrific talent for combining evidence and research with lively and vivid writing. Trust these messengers!" (Cass R. Sunstein, Robert Walmsley University Professor, Harvard University, and author of Conformity)

What listeners say about Messengers

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  • 07-15-20

kinda typical stuff, nothing deep

a lot of analysis of physical traits and visual characteristics that explain why we listen to certain people and not others. I was hoping it would be less of that and more about strategies to get to deeper listening, asking questions that would evoke better responses, etc.

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Well done

I listen to a lot of books on social psychology and this one presents a fresh and interesting approach in a easy to comprehend way.

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interesting topic but hidden agenda

Don't waste your money on this book. The author lures you in with a potentially interesting topic but then delivers a biased account of the world. Highly disappointing.

1 person found this helpful