Book Freak 144: The Scientific Path to Flexible Thinking

Advice from "Think Again," by Adam Grant

Get Think Again

Think Again, by Adam Grant, explores the value and process of rethinking our beliefs and opinions. It highlights the importance of adopting a “scientist mindset” — maintaining intellectual humility, expressing doubt in one’s views, and staying curious about alternatives. When we challenge our own assumptions and remain open to changing our minds, the author says, we gain the mental agility necessary to succeed in a rapidly evolving world. The book examines individual, interpersonal, and collective rethinking, sharing stories and evidence of how questioning our knowledge ultimately helps us discover truth, understand others, and build shared progress.

Here are four pieces of advice from the book:

Take a scientific approach to your opinions

“When you start forming an opinion, resist the temptation to preach, prosecute, or politick. Treat your emerging view as a hunch or a hypothesis and test it with data.”

Consider “steel man” arguments

“If you want to get better at finding common ground, [here’s] a surprisingly practical tip. Most people immediately start with a straw man, poking holes in the weakest version of the other side’s case. [Do] the reverse: consider the strongest version of their case… Seeking the ‘steel man’ instead of the ‘straw man’ builds understanding and makes debates more thoughtful.”

Let go of fixed visions of yourself

“Our identities are open systems, and so are our lives. We don’t have to stay tethered to old images of where we want to go or who we want to be.”

Reconsider how you spend your time

“The simplest way to start rethinking our options is to question what we do daily.”


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