2023-2024 Go Big Read: How Minds Change by David McRaney
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.
David McRaney is a science journalist, lecturer, author, fascinated with brains, minds, and culture.
He created the blog/book/podcast You Are Not So Smart to get a better understanding of self delusion and motivated reasoning, but he did a lot of other things before that: construction, selling leather coats, he even owned two pet stores for a few years.
He started the blog in 2009, and it became an internationally bestselling book shortly after, now available in 17 languages. It then became a podcast that was once part of Boing Boing, one of the internet’s first independent magazines. Today on that podcast he continues to interview scientists who study the psychology of reasoning, decision-making, and judgment.
His second book, You Are Now Less Dumb, was released in 2013, and his third book, How Minds Change was released in 2022 to worldwide acclaim. He just wrapped up a five-city book tour in the Netherlands and continues to give lectures month to month around the world about how people do and do not change their minds, the intricacies and nuances of persuasion, and how to safeguard yourself and your institution from the pitfalls of motivated reasoning.
In his early days, he cut his teeth as a newspaper reporter covering Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast and in the Pine Belt region of the Deep South. Later, he covered things like who tests rockets for NASA, what it is like to run a halfway home for homeless people who are HIV-positive, and how a family sent their kids to college by making and selling knives.
Since then, he has been an editor, photographer, voiceover artist, television host, journalism teacher, lecturer, and tornado survivor. He also worked for several years as the head of digital media for WDAM-TV where he produced The Green Couch Sessions, a TV show about the music of the Deep South. He’s also done some commercial work. He has written for Heineken, Duck Tape, and a few others, and recently appeared in a Reebok ad he also helped write.
After finishing How Minds Change, he wrote, produced, and recorded a six-hour audio documentary exploring the history of the idea and the word – genius – which is the subject of his next book.