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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

There's no point having a mind if you never change it.

In his best-selling How to Be Right, James provided an invigorating guide to how to talk to people with bad opinions. And yet the question he always gets asked is: 'if you're so sure about everything, haven't you ever changed your mind?'

In an age of us vs them, tribal loyalties and bitter divisions, the ability to change our minds may be the most important power we have. In this intimate, personal new book, James' focus shifts from talking to other people to how you talk to yourself about what you really think. Ranging across a dazzling array of big topics, cultural questions and political hot potatoes, James reveals where he has changed his mind, explains what convinced him and shows why all of us need to kick the tyres of our opinions, check our assumptions and make sure we really think what we think we do. 

Coloured with stories of changing minds from the incredible guests on his podcasts and callers to his radio show, and spanning big ideas like press regulation and Brexit through to playful subjects like football and dog-ownership, How Not to Be Wrong is packed with revelations, outrage, conversations and lots of humour. 

Because in a world that seems more divided than ever, if you can't change your own mind you'll never really be able to change anyone else's.

©2020 James O'Brien (P)2020 Penguin Audio

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Alas, he should be more magnanimous.

I really am disappointed, but not altogether surprised. His first book was a joy to listen to and really did broaden my mind. This book however seems to be a self congratulating piece of work, in such a way that I felt I was being beaten around the brain repeatedly with the underlying theme of "look how great I am, I'm no longer as closed minded as I used to be" Well, well done you! The sections that really became cringeworthy were the fictional arguments the author would have with HIMSELF had he called into his OWN radio show and won a debate against HIMSELF (the caller) The mind boggles at the self righteous and sanctimonious chapters, even though those oulooks are aimed typically at himself. It's less an introspective, and more a confession that nobody asked to hear.

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Unqualified to write on this subject

A book of this title should ideally be written by somebody of a psychology background with a centrist political outlook.

This is a privileged journalist claiming to understand the problems of wider society because he has recently understood his own with the help of a therapist.

Chapter one and two were fairly interesting before James begun to tout his dogma.

Waste of a credit really.

Edit: The Parasitic Mind by Gad Saad is a fantastic choice to follow up this book on a similar subject.

6 people found this helpful

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Man discovers he is not a nice person.

Mr o brian. Spends career belittling people and arguing. Realises in late middle age that this may be related to childhood trauma. Well blow me down with a feather. I regret giving him my money.

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thought provoking

loved the book, however I now feel like I must cut out my mocking of vegans which is something iv always enjoyed

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Bit preachy, even by James O'Briens standards

I love James O'Brien. I listen to his radio show fairly regularly but I tend to tune in whenever there is so "big" news for him to discuss. As much as I do like him, I do find him a bit "preachy" at times and unfortunately, this book seems to take that to a new level. There is some good content and it is, ultimately, about him being wrong and changing his opinion. The problem is that it makes his new opinion sound like its beyond reproach! Not a patch on his first book.

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Thought-provoking and interesting

Loved it and wished it had been a little longer! Always a good sign of an enjoyable book!

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excellent

loved it. James is an excellent story teller and I was riveted from the first page.

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A lot of woke drivel.

Can't listen to this nonsense. To much left wing hocus pocus. Don't even bother buying.

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Smug and Pseudo Intellectual

This is ram packed full of strawmen arguments, not as clever or well thought out as the author believes. Considering the thrust of the book is about changing one's mind and remaining openminded, O'Brien somehow manages to sound more dogmatic and doctrinaire about his new positions. This is a really disappointing excercise in virtue signalling without really exploring the chosen topics in a meaningful way.

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Fantastic.

An amazingly sensitive and introspective look at the author and subsequent look at oneself.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mimi @ This Girl is Lit(erary)
  • 29-03-21

Honest and Challenging

Very much enjoyed the book. A truly honest and challenging look at prejudices and life.

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  • Buretto
  • 28-01-21

Thoughtful, whiny, insightful, unfinished

I genuinely like this guy. I picked up on him through some Facebook videos, and liked what he was saying. And I agree with virtually everything he says here. Except. I find at times he gets a bit too whiny, off point, more about his mea culpas about being wrong, than the issue itself. And one glaring issue. He doesn't seem to recognize that his journey is not finished. I admire the courage to make about how wrong he's been in the past (though to be fair, he does seem to enjoy a victory lap now and then in celebration of his sacrifice). But he almost entirely fails to see his intransigence in the *now*. It may be splitting hairs, but his positions now, well considered and compassionate (and as I've said, most of which I wholeheartedly agree), do not seem to be held to same scrutiny or logical rigor as his previous "ignorant" positions. Virtually everyone believes they are right in their convictions, as he repeatedly attests, whether it stands to reason or not. So how can he honestly think he can give himself an objective assessment of his current ideas as "correct"? It very much comes off at times that he's reached full "James O'Brien-ness".

His theme really starts to get wobbly near the end. I feel that the art of changing your mind virtually turns into the art of abdicating your honest personal inquisitiveness in the name of quelling rising opposition. It's probably best to let readers discover on their own the specific issues in which I feel James lets external pressure defeat emotional honesty.

All that said and written, I enjoyed the book. I thought it was thoughtful, and though-provoking. Yet still with flaws. Too willing to bend over backwards at times, and too timid to take tough positions at others. And even more, unwilling to accept that others who he has assigned a kind of mystical wisdom could possibly be wrong as well. It all comes from a good place, and I am certainly not one who should judge, but it's clear that James is on a path, but he's not finished.

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  • Dara
  • 24-10-20

Well constructed and performed, James is a talent.

Enjoyable introspection. The race bit is sticking with me. Thank you, James, for helping move my perspective.

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  • Graham Hunt
  • 23-10-20

Makes you think about thinking

Listened over a period of two days in the car and at home. Would have taken just a day but had to do some work. Those who are certain of their rightness should listen and the problem is they won’t. Those who doubt their certainties already know what’s within the book but they can also listen and enjoy as James explores his own wrongness over the years and how easy it is to dismiss others’ lived experiences because of our “luck” in the lottery of life.