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How Not to Be Wrong: The Art of Changing Your Mind

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'Simply Brilliant' THE SECRET BARRISTER 'Passionate and brilliantly argued' DAVID OLUSOGA 'An admirably personal guide' MARINA HYDE 'Smart, analytical, self-aware and important' ALASTAIR CAMPBELL THE INTIMATE, REVEALING NEW BOOK FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE BESTSELLING, PRIZE-WINNING HOW TO BE RIGHT There's no point having a mind if you're not willing to change it James O'Brien has 'Simply Brilliant' THE SECRET BARRISTER 'Passionate and brilliantly argued' DAVID OLUSOGA 'An admirably personal guide' MARINA HYDE 'Smart, analytical, self-aware and important' ALASTAIR CAMPBELL THE INTIMATE, REVEALING NEW BOOK FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE BESTSELLING, PRIZE-WINNING HOW TO BE RIGHT There's no point having a mind if you're not willing to change it James O'Brien has built well over a million loyal listeners to his radio show by dissecting the opinions of callers live on air, every day. But winning the argument doesn't necessarily mean you're right. In this deeply personal book, James turns the mirror on himself to reveal what he has changed his mind about and why, and explores how examining and changing our own views is our new civic duty in a world of outrage, disagreement and echo chambers. He writes candidly about the stiff upper lip attitudes and toxic masculinity that coloured his childhood, and the therapy and personal growth that have led him question his assumptions and explore new perspectives. Laying open his personal views on everything from racial prejudice to emotional vulnerability, from fat-shaming to tattoos, he then delves into the real reasons -- often irrational or unconscious -- he holds them. Unflinchingly honest, revealing and funny, How Not to Be Wrong is a tonic for a world more divided than ever and a personal manifesto for a better way of thinking and living. Because after all, if we can't change our own minds we'll never really be able to change anyone else's.


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'Simply Brilliant' THE SECRET BARRISTER 'Passionate and brilliantly argued' DAVID OLUSOGA 'An admirably personal guide' MARINA HYDE 'Smart, analytical, self-aware and important' ALASTAIR CAMPBELL THE INTIMATE, REVEALING NEW BOOK FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE BESTSELLING, PRIZE-WINNING HOW TO BE RIGHT There's no point having a mind if you're not willing to change it James O'Brien has 'Simply Brilliant' THE SECRET BARRISTER 'Passionate and brilliantly argued' DAVID OLUSOGA 'An admirably personal guide' MARINA HYDE 'Smart, analytical, self-aware and important' ALASTAIR CAMPBELL THE INTIMATE, REVEALING NEW BOOK FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE BESTSELLING, PRIZE-WINNING HOW TO BE RIGHT There's no point having a mind if you're not willing to change it James O'Brien has built well over a million loyal listeners to his radio show by dissecting the opinions of callers live on air, every day. But winning the argument doesn't necessarily mean you're right. In this deeply personal book, James turns the mirror on himself to reveal what he has changed his mind about and why, and explores how examining and changing our own views is our new civic duty in a world of outrage, disagreement and echo chambers. He writes candidly about the stiff upper lip attitudes and toxic masculinity that coloured his childhood, and the therapy and personal growth that have led him question his assumptions and explore new perspectives. Laying open his personal views on everything from racial prejudice to emotional vulnerability, from fat-shaming to tattoos, he then delves into the real reasons -- often irrational or unconscious -- he holds them. Unflinchingly honest, revealing and funny, How Not to Be Wrong is a tonic for a world more divided than ever and a personal manifesto for a better way of thinking and living. Because after all, if we can't change our own minds we'll never really be able to change anyone else's.

30 review for How Not to Be Wrong: The Art of Changing Your Mind

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lou (nonfiction fiend)

    In his best-selling How to Be Right, James O'Brien 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 abo In his best-selling How to Be Right, James O'Brien 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. He asks us to consider that over time as people we have unwittingly formed both conscious and unconscious bias through the opinions we are exposed to, including those of our family members, our education systems and our place in society. The types of media we consume also feeds into these biases, including television, press and social media. 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. This is an accessible, fascinating and important read which argues that we should be more self-aware and reflective and challenge our own opinions. It's a compelling book that is written in a conversational style and you can tell it has been extensively researched. It also features some interesting anecdotes throughout and proposes that only through challenging our own thought processes can we learn to be more intuitive and come to understand that changing your mind, provided it is in an informed manner, helps us mature as people and be more open-minded in the long term. Highly recommended. Many thanks to WH Allen for an ARC.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sid Nuncius

    I thought How Not To Be Wrong was excellent. I don’t listen to James O’Brien but I enjoyed his previous book, How To Be Right very much and tried this on the strength of it. It’s a very different book, but just as good and just as important. The message of the book is summed up in its penultimate sentence: “I have finally learned that admitting to being wrong is infinitely more important than using skills and tricks and weapons and tools to look ‘right’, and that there is no point in having a min I thought How Not To Be Wrong was excellent. I don’t listen to James O’Brien but I enjoyed his previous book, How To Be Right very much and tried this on the strength of it. It’s a very different book, but just as good and just as important. The message of the book is summed up in its penultimate sentence: “I have finally learned that admitting to being wrong is infinitely more important than using skills and tricks and weapons and tools to look ‘right’, and that there is no point in having a mind if you can’t change it.” It’s an important message; what that sentence doesn’t convey, though, is what a remarkably honest and courageous book this is. O’Brien talks openly about some of the times he has been, in his words, “horribly wrong” either about an idea or about the way in which he has treated someone. It makes quite painful reading sometimes; it must have been very difficult to write and I think he deserves great credit for what he has done. He has a lot to say about the way in which early experiences at school in particular gave him a mindset of always expecting attack and how he built a set of verbal tools to fend off attacks and to “win,” rather than to really listen to and empathise with what people with different life experiences may be saying to him. It took a major family crisis for him to realise that these tools did not make him a good father or husband in these circumstances and, again to his credit, he sought counselling even though he was mightily sceptical and cynical about the whole process. His description of how this affected him and the subsequent re-evaluation of much of how he behaves toward people is readable, fascinating and moving in places. Much of what he says applies to an awful lot of us (especially men, I would suggest) and is a salutary read. I can recommend How Not To Be Wrong as an engrossing, thoughtful and thoroughly illuminating read. One of my best books of the year so far. (My thanks to Random House, WH Allen for an ARC via NetGalley.)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    "There is no point in having a mind if you never change it." I enjoyed O'Brien's last book and was intrigued by the concept of this new writing and how he admits and accepts his wrong attitudes. The reflective and critical analysis of O'Brien's own experiences and opinions was a perfect introduction to exploring your own faults. A brilliant example of how to critically analyse your own opinions and beliefs to become a better and more understanding human being. "There is no point in having a mind if you never change it." I enjoyed O'Brien's last book and was intrigued by the concept of this new writing and how he admits and accepts his wrong attitudes. The reflective and critical analysis of O'Brien's own experiences and opinions was a perfect introduction to exploring your own faults. A brilliant example of how to critically analyse your own opinions and beliefs to become a better and more understanding human being.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Higgins

    I’m a big fan of James O’Brien I listen to him everyday on LBC and I couldn’t wait to read this book and I was not disappointed. This book is honest and heartfelt and I would definitely recommend.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Simon Genoe

    Thought provoking stuff

  6. 5 out of 5

    Gregg

    "There's no point in having a mind if you're not going to change it," LBC broadcaster James O'Brien says at the very end of this excellent rumination on how to examine what we think and shift it when necessary. Hear hear. Being wrong is something I excel at. Twenty-plus years ago, if you'd asked (and thankfully, almost no one did), I would have adamantly declared that gays in the military would be a distraction for heterosexual soldiers, that we were evolutionarily engineered to eat meat, that i "There's no point in having a mind if you're not going to change it," LBC broadcaster James O'Brien says at the very end of this excellent rumination on how to examine what we think and shift it when necessary. Hear hear. Being wrong is something I excel at. Twenty-plus years ago, if you'd asked (and thankfully, almost no one did), I would have adamantly declared that gays in the military would be a distraction for heterosexual soldiers, that we were evolutionarily engineered to eat meat, that if we were invading any country in the Middle East it was because there were some bad people there who needed us to take care of them but good, and that glam rock was a necessary reprieve for American pop culture after the horrors of the eighties and the oncoming sludgy philosophy of grunge. I still sort of believe the last, but over the years, I've been fortunate to be challenged by a number of people close to me, and my thinking on these matters and many others has shifted. Weird how, for a guy who quotes Emerson's "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" so freely in the classroom has spent so much time yelling "No it's not!" when clearly it was over the years. This book provides a useful commentary on the process of examining one's preconceptions and prejudices, without the crushing burden of ego interfering with a more clear-eyed analysis. When have we ever needed this more? O'Brien distinguishes between "winning" an argument and having a more honest, productive exchange, and he lays out his own shortcomings over the years as an LBC broadcaster to provide evidence and context. The book has eight chapters, each of which dives into a singular issue or issues and shows transcripts of O'Brien fumbling the ball when talking to people on his program about issues he says he is "well meaning but ill informed" about. Probably I was most interested in the chapters on attitudes concerning traditional marriage because I too am susceptible to some of society's prejudices about wedded vs. nonwedded couples (though I didn't realize it until I read the book), and O'Brien's admission of his own hypocrisy concerning meat eating is one I share as well. (Like him, my diet is a "work in progress.") The one issue, I think, he is careful to point out he's not completely sold upon is transgender rights, and his admission that he holds two contradictory points of view on the subject, and therefore must be wrong somehow (he isn't sure how yet) is fascinating to look at. (It's summarized a bit in the midst of this exchange he had with Piers Morgan last October, when the book came out.) I wasn't quite so convinced about his point concerning Israel: that any criticism of the state must take into account the fact that the world's Jews look to it as "a place to go to when it (the Holocaust) happens again." Maybe it's because I haven't thought enough about it; maybe it's because most of the criticism of Israel I come across is written or spoken by practicing Jews who seem to have no trouble differentiating between anti-Semitism (which is real) and horror at Israel turning Palestine into an occupied police state. When O'Brien cautions us that, if we're spending more time criticizing Israel than we are any other country, I come off okay--for me, my primary responsibility is to hold myself and my own country responsible for my/their own atrocities--and I'm perfectly willing to discuss the issue further, calmly, quietly, without any urge to make, or tolerance to endure any yelling of thinly-veiled or not-so-thinly veiled anti-Semitic bellowing about the Soros-controlled media. Gold star, please? O'Brien is downright seductive to listen to. He is Socratic, thoughtful in the best sense, and an antidote to the poisonous bile of strident partisanship masquerading as dialogue in the media today. His being on the other side of the Atlantic only helps schlubs like me who sometimes struggle with basic geography, and he's erudite and conversational simultaneously. I maintain that his advice in his last book, How to be Right, contains the best advice possible for critical debate: get your opponent to explain what they mean. If it's sound, great; if it's not, it collapses under the weight of the facts. Here, the thesis seems to be that if you're not willing to do that to yourself, you're doing thinking wrong. Point taken.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Angie

    I've enjoyed listening toJames O'Brien on the radio, regularly dismantling other people's opinions on a wide variety of subjects. Many of his viewpoints I agree with: the one's I don't I have sometimes found myself shouting frustratedly at the radio. Either way, it's entertaining. This book follows on from his previous best seller How To Be Right, and his focus shifts from looking outward and always trying to win the argument to looking inside and discovering (partly via counselling) why he think I've enjoyed listening toJames O'Brien on the radio, regularly dismantling other people's opinions on a wide variety of subjects. Many of his viewpoints I agree with: the one's I don't I have sometimes found myself shouting frustratedly at the radio. Either way, it's entertaining. This book follows on from his previous best seller How To Be Right, and his focus shifts from looking outward and always trying to win the argument to looking inside and discovering (partly via counselling) why he thinks the way he does, what his thoughts are about the way his opinions have been formed , and whether, in light of that, they are right or wrong (or a mix of both). This book aims to encourage us to do the same: to examine the most steadfast of our opinions and ask why: to examine the other viewpoint open mindedly rather than with the intent to rubbish it; to listen to that little voice that sometimes talks inside our head; and to actively listen to other people because their personal opinions have drawn them to a different conclusion., and it's interesting and enlightening to find out why. He asks us to be aware of our unconscious biases and try to look outside our usual reading material. We all surround ourselves with friends who have similar opinions, and read media that aligns with how we think about the world. We could do better: to read other media, to see the other side of the story may lead to a better understanding of why people think differently. It may also lead you to change your own opinions at times - not a bad thing! The text is interspersed with conversations from his radio show - some to illustrate how he used to bulldoze people with his opinion, some showing how he now listens, others where changed his mind on a subject just by listening to another person's experience. He also points out that the best way to change someone else's opinion is not to talk over them, to patronise them or to verbally them; but to get them to question their own viewpoint. We all need to be open-minded enough to listen: even if ultimately we still have the same opinion as when we started, at least we understand the underpinnings of the other person's argument (or maybe that there are no underpinnings: they are arguing from feelings rather than fact and evidence.). In the last 10 years or so, in the UK at least, we have become much more tribal in our thinking - footballisation as James calls it - not just wanting our team to win, but wanting the other side to lose badly in many other ways. This will never lead to anything good - we need to learn to listen, to understand, to agree to disagree, if we want to get on better and become a united kingdom in actions rather than just a label.. A recommended read.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jess Wylde

    I listen to James O’Brien’s political radio show on LBC almost every weekday and he is, in my opinion, one of the most sensible, reasonable and articulate people with a media platform in the UK today. I have a lot of respect for him and would recommend anyone to listen to his show. This is a book about changing your mind, and it’s also a very brave book. James analyses times in his own past when his beliefs on certain topics were a world away from what they are now, and how he came to change his m I listen to James O’Brien’s political radio show on LBC almost every weekday and he is, in my opinion, one of the most sensible, reasonable and articulate people with a media platform in the UK today. I have a lot of respect for him and would recommend anyone to listen to his show. This is a book about changing your mind, and it’s also a very brave book. James analyses times in his own past when his beliefs on certain topics were a world away from what they are now, and how he came to change his mind. Sometimes he has been helped by callers on his show and he scripts out some of the most interesting and eye opening conversations he’s had which have forced him to do a 180 on his previous views. He discusses topics such as stop & search, trans people, therapy, obesity, Black Lives Matter, vegetarianism and more. I found it an extremely brave book because how many of us would be willing to hold up our past selves, spouting what we now know to be utter nonsense, for all the world to see? Yet here is James doing exactly that, laying himself bare and saying, ‘Look everyone - look how silly I was then - and this is how I changed.’ I’ve certainly held views in the past that I am now ashamed of and the thought of doing what James has done here would absolutely terrify me, so much respect to him for that. It’s also a very hopeful book, because it shows how much we can grow if we just give ourselves the space and can open up our minds and listen. We should all be doing more of that. When I got to the end I could have happily kept on reading this and wished it was a bit longer (something I rarely say about a book). Luckily I have his radio show to go back to for my fix!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rosie

    A very honest look at James O'Brien's personal views on a selection of topics, which he held passionately and insistantly and how he came to realise he was wrong and change his mind. There are some deeply personal, vulnerable and revealing things here, from his days at school to adult reactions to obesity and the legitamate confusion of trans issues. His recounting of his corperal punishment as a young boy at boarding school are honestly heartbreaking and it's a very interesting look at how that A very honest look at James O'Brien's personal views on a selection of topics, which he held passionately and insistantly and how he came to realise he was wrong and change his mind. There are some deeply personal, vulnerable and revealing things here, from his days at school to adult reactions to obesity and the legitamate confusion of trans issues. His recounting of his corperal punishment as a young boy at boarding school are honestly heartbreaking and it's a very interesting look at how that experience lead him to support the concept of beating children for many years, against what would be thought of as clearly rational and obvious reasons. The complexity of how we protect ourselves emotionally from trauma plays key roles which then inform our lives onwards. The same with trans issues, which I think he makes honest and important points, that from the perspective of someone outside the direct issue, there is honest confusion which needs to be allowed to be expressed and questions asked before any possibility of understanding and acceptance can happen. On any subject, people need to be able to make mistakes, ask and probably say the wrong thing, before people can be come to the realisation that we can be wrong. Often about things we feel very stongly and passionately about. We need to be open to having these conversations, with ourselves, with our friends, our families, our communities and society. Well worth a listen and something I will listen to again, hopefully opening my own mind more in process.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rebekka

    Really really really enjoyed reading this. Such a smart and reminiscing book that makes u think about so many things. Especially the retrospective thinking and showing how to apologise and reflect and do better in the future.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    James O'Brien is a journalist and broadcaster. He has particularly come to prominence for his radio phone in show on LBC for which he has been labelled "the conscience of liberal Britain." I knew he had written this book but did not rush out to get it, because although I have enjoyed his phone in show, the title made me think he was going to use his experience to tell us how to be right about things. And the problem I have with that is that a radio phone in is always an unequal forum, and althou James O'Brien is a journalist and broadcaster. He has particularly come to prominence for his radio phone in show on LBC for which he has been labelled "the conscience of liberal Britain." I knew he had written this book but did not rush out to get it, because although I have enjoyed his phone in show, the title made me think he was going to use his experience to tell us how to be right about things. And the problem I have with that is that a radio phone in is always an unequal forum, and although he frequently eviscerates arguments from opponents of his positions, I felt that his observations might be coloured by the benefit of his unequal status and a general cult of personality. But then I saw the book in Foyles in London and read the blurb and the Foyles recommendation too, and I realised this book was not what I had expected at all. Instead this is a deeply personal look by the author at the art of self examination of our own views. He candidly and apologetically tells of some of his biggest errors and worst actions. He speaks of his own need for counselling, and most of all he tells us of times he has been forced to change his mind. Again and again. And that is what the book is about. It is about how it is not only allowed, but right that we should re-examine our settled positions, and be free to change our mind when someone else persuades us we are wrong. He points out that this is a sign of youthful thinking, which I think was spot on. And it is not limited to young people. It is a matter of mental fitness that we can be persuaded to change our opinion on a matter. And then he talks about trick issues such as the trans-sexual debate where he finds himself frustratingly conflicted (and thus villified by both sides) and uses that to argue for safe space to consider issues and the error in shouting down opposition. Quite right! This book was deeply thoughtful, very personal and surprisingly good as a result. I really liked this and have no hesitation in recommending it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Gildea

    As a keen enjoyer of James O’Brien’s previous book ‘How To Be Right’, it was unlikely that outside of a shift in personality for either of us, I would find this book anything short of interesting. The fact that it challenged me and the way I have gone about certain interactions in my professional and personal life was a troublesome, but ultimately excellent bonus. Being self aware is one of the most important attributes - and especially so in a climate where divisions run deep across politics, s As a keen enjoyer of James O’Brien’s previous book ‘How To Be Right’, it was unlikely that outside of a shift in personality for either of us, I would find this book anything short of interesting. The fact that it challenged me and the way I have gone about certain interactions in my professional and personal life was a troublesome, but ultimately excellent bonus. Being self aware is one of the most important attributes - and especially so in a climate where divisions run deep across politics, sports, even tribal workplace relationships! Knowing your enemy, so to speak, and understanding different viewpoints, and acknowledging that opposition doesn’t (and shouldn’t in most cases) disparage friendships, is something lost on many of us. And being able to admit that sometimes, you, or your beliefs may not be right, is a relief, even though it may seem impossible at first. With his trademark repertoire of anecdotes from his radio show to back his many misgivings, and evolving in opinion, that rather than showing something indecisive, portrays a human who when confronted with evidence head on, can acknowledge and adjust his viewpoint. This is what we all strive for, and would make the world far more comfortable with itself. What’s right once, isn’t always, and what’s right next, won’t be forever. If you’re aware of James and his radio show, no doubt you’ll enjoy this as much as his other work. If you despise him, you won’t like it. But that shouldn’t put you off finding out what he has to say, and discovering how you too can not be wrong.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Chris Boutté

    I binged this book in about a day, and it's definitely one of my new favorite books. I love reading books about the flaws in my thinking, and understanding the psychology behind this has helped save my life. I'm a recovering drug addict, and my big "Aha!" moment was when I realized that I wasn't the smartest person on earth and that I might just be wrong about the way I was living. This is why I love this book from James O'Brien. Most of the books like this (like the one I'm currently writing) e I binged this book in about a day, and it's definitely one of my new favorite books. I love reading books about the flaws in my thinking, and understanding the psychology behind this has helped save my life. I'm a recovering drug addict, and my big "Aha!" moment was when I realized that I wasn't the smartest person on earth and that I might just be wrong about the way I was living. This is why I love this book from James O'Brien. Most of the books like this (like the one I'm currently writing) explain the psychology behind different biases and heuristics, but this book caught me by surprise because it's about James reviewing how he was wrong about different topics like racism, mental health, obesity and much more.  This book was completely unique with the way it approached this subject, and it was extremely inspiring. Reading the book was almost like reading a philosophy book because James asks such great questions and comes from a place of curiosity. I truly hope more people read this book and are inspired to practice some intellectual humility. I know it inspired me.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ribhu Agrawal

    Great book and very honest. As with the first book I particularly like the extracts of his radio show and discussions with listeners. These help shed light on topics with much more clarity as they provide real life view points. I think by highlighting where he was wrong in the past we can actually set a scene for open debate on important issues such as race, gender equality, press etc. The general principle of it being ok to change your opinion and grow is very important in this day and age where Great book and very honest. As with the first book I particularly like the extracts of his radio show and discussions with listeners. These help shed light on topics with much more clarity as they provide real life view points. I think by highlighting where he was wrong in the past we can actually set a scene for open debate on important issues such as race, gender equality, press etc. The general principle of it being ok to change your opinion and grow is very important in this day and age where staunchness in your belief is appreciated rather than the merits of the view itself. Didn't give it a 5 star as there were parts in the book I almost felt he was too apologist for prior views/comments and needed to make his point quicker (like he did in the 1st book and hence its 5 star view). Still a brilliant read and it's interesting to see the evolution of Liberal ideas and view points of great significance.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tom McCluskey

    Very much enjoyed this book. James puts arguments forward whilst not claiming to be totally correct but instead presents varying degrees of concerns and opinions that he has, a skill someone that anyone who describes people as ‘woke’ simply cannot comprehend. If more people read this then there would be fewer daily mail thinkers who’s opinions are based on fury-not-fact opinion pieces, curated specifically to sell outrage to a public hellbent on defending free speech but who recoil in horror whe Very much enjoyed this book. James puts arguments forward whilst not claiming to be totally correct but instead presents varying degrees of concerns and opinions that he has, a skill someone that anyone who describes people as ‘woke’ simply cannot comprehend. If more people read this then there would be fewer daily mail thinkers who’s opinions are based on fury-not-fact opinion pieces, curated specifically to sell outrage to a public hellbent on defending free speech but who recoil in horror when criticised for their opinions. Plus, James absolutely minced ‘Andy from Blackburn’s’ opinions on trans people which was rather funny. I would absolutely recommend this to Lucy as she’d not totally agree with James on every aspect but she would enjoy the fact that he has an ability to see both sides of the argument without being blinded by the thoughts of the sun newspaper.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Goodridge

    A really honest book from James O’Brien. It’s fair to say that O’Brien is an intellectual idol of mine. However, if I had discovered him earlier in my life (as he describes in his book), I would’ve disliked him greatly. Some of his opinions and standpoints were grossly wrong, but he admits that in the book. It’s refreshing to see somebody analyse their old opinions and how they came to change their mind. His last book taught me not to stop at “what I think”, but to go further and explain “WHY I A really honest book from James O’Brien. It’s fair to say that O’Brien is an intellectual idol of mine. However, if I had discovered him earlier in my life (as he describes in his book), I would’ve disliked him greatly. Some of his opinions and standpoints were grossly wrong, but he admits that in the book. It’s refreshing to see somebody analyse their old opinions and how they came to change their mind. His last book taught me not to stop at “what I think”, but to go further and explain “WHY I think it”. This book provides another lesson: it’s okay to change your mind. It reminded me of a quote by economist John Maynard Keynes: “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Bates

    I thought this was good. Challenging and insightful and I learned quite a bit from it. It reads a bit like some newspapers columns stuck together, but is really worth that bit of excess. It made me rethink my various more robust views and find ways of accepting the views of others more easily.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tracey

    I was an occasional listener to James O’Brien during lockdown. He talked a lot of sense. Reading his book made me recognise why I think the way I do about certain things. And why I’m wrong. A very honest book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Katie Hull

    Actually really really loved this!! Got it from peter for xmas - not my usual author of choice (old white opinionated LBC presenter) but really refreshing to read how your views can change over time. My dad needs to read it lol. Also whizzed thru a re read of everything I know about love 💜

  20. 4 out of 5

    Michael White

    A must read! Such honesty and self analysis is rarely so well examined or approached with a wry sense of humour. Educationally illuminating too!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Scerfman (Saoirse)

    Excellent! Honest, engaging, thought provoking just fab.

  22. 5 out of 5

    ciararecommends

    A great follow-on from How to be Right, a little more personal but just as hilarious and insightful.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Paulinlong

    A really honest, thoughtful book which made me think about opinions I hold and why I hold them. Also, what I do to defend them, when maybe I shouldn’t. Well worth reading.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Joey

    Loved this book, perfect for someone as stubborn as me. James gave so many examples and different views on subjects, which really opened my eyes.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Stevie

    I very much enjoyed James’ first book, but struggled with this one. I thought parts of it were great and it was excellent to see a man being so open about therapy and his feelings. It lost me in the second half - he spent a lot of time listing all his previously awful opinions (and as I am not a radio listener this was the first time I heard them) which I found distasteful. Parts of this book were also clearly intended to be jabs at Piers Morgan and his ilk, which I found uninteresting to read - I very much enjoyed James’ first book, but struggled with this one. I thought parts of it were great and it was excellent to see a man being so open about therapy and his feelings. It lost me in the second half - he spent a lot of time listing all his previously awful opinions (and as I am not a radio listener this was the first time I heard them) which I found distasteful. Parts of this book were also clearly intended to be jabs at Piers Morgan and his ilk, which I found uninteresting to read - save that for twitter. James seems to think the best thing to be is honest, but I think sometimes it’s the ability to be quiet.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Koit

    I listen to Mr O’Brien often enough to know what he thinks about most topics. Therefore, I wasn’t really surprised by the discussions and viewpoints here—some of these I’ve heard live on air after all—nor by the general message that we are often wrong, and it takes a big heart (mind?) to acknowledge this. This difficulty in turn creates new problems because that acknowledgement is, often, so very difficult for us to make. The author had chosen his topics—marriage, racism, equality, weight issues— I listen to Mr O’Brien often enough to know what he thinks about most topics. Therefore, I wasn’t really surprised by the discussions and viewpoints here—some of these I’ve heard live on air after all—nor by the general message that we are often wrong, and it takes a big heart (mind?) to acknowledge this. This difficulty in turn creates new problems because that acknowledgement is, often, so very difficult for us to make. The author had chosen his topics—marriage, racism, equality, weight issues—quite carefully even though, originally, it looks as very much like a random list. These concern the broad themes in society which cause so much ruckus, but are often used as a distraction from the really important topical events. Yet, despite the claims that Mr O’Brien is now tries to err into any topic as carefully as possible or, rather, with due consideration to the other viewpoints, quite often his tone is overly bellicose. This means that his debate opponents don’t get the time they need to make a coherent argument. However, what makes for good radio does not make for as good a book which meant that I was rather relieved to see that there were only a few calls transcribed. What is left unacknowledged in those bellicose dialogues, after all, is the difficulty with which many would reach for the best words to explain themselves while the author himself is clearly trained in this (by his daily profession). This also means that the due consideration the author says he is trying to offer to his callers isn’t really there as often as it should be—perhaps another item for him to reconsider in the future. Yet, it was good to read what had changed Mr O’Brien’s mind about certain topics. These triggers won’t be the same for everyone, but I remember how I would have argued for certain policies in the past that would have no appeal for me now. However, knowing that I think something differently now makes it no easier to utter those words that everyone should say every now and then—and what the author’s thoughts consolidate around and help us become more familiar with—”I was wrong.” This review was originally posted on my blog.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Walker

    This is the companion piece to O'Brien's other recent book, How to Be Right. The first one was, frankly, a much better read - here O'Brien talks about the power of changing your mind and accepting that you can be wrong about things. That, of course, suggests that eventually you will be right (the topic of the first book), but the value lies in examining why one feels the way one does about different subjects. Penny drop moments abound here, and credit is given where it is due for their occurrenc This is the companion piece to O'Brien's other recent book, How to Be Right. The first one was, frankly, a much better read - here O'Brien talks about the power of changing your mind and accepting that you can be wrong about things. That, of course, suggests that eventually you will be right (the topic of the first book), but the value lies in examining why one feels the way one does about different subjects. Penny drop moments abound here, and credit is given where it is due for their occurrence, whether it be from corporal punishment (smacking one's children etc) or vegetarianism or fat shaming; the only problem really is that the juiciest content comes in the first book and not so much here. Though there are plenty of moments of value in this slim volume, too much seems to have been given over to padding, suggesting that this has been a slightly rushed affair - dare I ask if it was suggested by the publishers as a way to capitalise on the dramatic success of the first volume?

  28. 4 out of 5

    David Ellcock

    I was left a little unsure as to what O’Brien wanted this book to be. Is it a self-help book? A re-telling of some of the more memorable exchanges from his radio shows? The story of one liberal’s journey into even more liberal views? A thinly-veiled swipe at the shibboleths of his “opponents”? It’s not a bad book, per se, but it’s a little directionless in places.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Marie Larsgard

    I enjoyed the book, i found it to be simple and well articulated, and i liked the call-logs. I was pretty well familiar with all the topics discussed in the books before reading, and still enjoyed it. A criticism i have is i wish it had more facts, and statistics, and more factually proving why his thoughts were wrong, instead it at times came across as “obviously i was wrong here, bad take 🙄”. I feel like this wouldve been especially good in this book, as, if im not mistaken, O'Brien writes tha I enjoyed the book, i found it to be simple and well articulated, and i liked the call-logs. I was pretty well familiar with all the topics discussed in the books before reading, and still enjoyed it. A criticism i have is i wish it had more facts, and statistics, and more factually proving why his thoughts were wrong, instead it at times came across as “obviously i was wrong here, bad take 🙄”. I feel like this wouldve been especially good in this book, as, if im not mistaken, O'Brien writes that looking at facts and statistics and seeing what POV/argument are factually supported is important. For example when O'Brien 'quotes' from the calls talking about stop and search, specifically the reference form Gladwell, Akala and George the poet was great, and had a good factual element that also allowed me to learn, and see the points made more factually. The rest of the book was lacking on this front for me personally. Obviously the book is meant to be informal, and too much fact would defeat the purpose, and complicate the main message of "being wrong is okay and good, think about things:)" , but just a little more wouldve been nice.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Stevedutch

    Having just finished this account of one man’s exercise in public self-flagellation I am left asking was I wrong to take it up in the first place. Well, in the first place, perhaps I should take issue with the title, which appears to claim the book will provide the impossible: advice on how not to be wrong. Explaining that impossibility would probably take a book in itself. If he had used ‘incorrect’ in place of ‘wrong’ it might have made the job easier. Incorrect carries no moral connotations a Having just finished this account of one man’s exercise in public self-flagellation I am left asking was I wrong to take it up in the first place. Well, in the first place, perhaps I should take issue with the title, which appears to claim the book will provide the impossible: advice on how not to be wrong. Explaining that impossibility would probably take a book in itself. If he had used ‘incorrect’ in place of ‘wrong’ it might have made the job easier. Incorrect carries no moral connotations and should not be ‘value’ laden: 2 + 2 = 5 is not ‘wrong’, it’s ‘incorrect’, at least in this universe. And what might be O’Brien’s motives in ‘coming clean’ about his past embarrassments? His Catholic upbringing, which gets mentioned every now and again, may have something to do with it. Perhaps the guilt-induced pressure of being ‘wrong’ on so many issues, for so many times, for so long may have required the demonstration of remorse and hoped-for absolution. Guilt, after all, is religion’s currency and, if we stick with Catholicism for now, we’re all born with a big deposit in our accounts, thanks to Adam’s imprudent fruit-picking. But, on top of original sin, he is, of course, white, middle-class, privately-educated and male: a whole bunch of stuff almost certain to burden the soul of the liberal-minded. And the ‘issues’ are a very mixed bag: some of the intolerance that social media has exposed in the first quarter of the twenty-first century, which afflicts much of public discourse and media air-time, is on display within the book’s covers: from the obvious such as racism, Black Lives Matter, the disproportionate application of ‘stop and search’ policies amongst certain sectors of society, etc. to tattoos and fat-shaming. Thus, O’Brien re-examines these issues through the lens of his popular radio phone-in show, with transcripts of ‘conversations’ providing evidence of his bigotry for all to see. I have no problem with this. He is simply reviewing those conversations that caused him to pause and reflect on his sometimes long-held views, why he thinks he has held onto them for so long and what it was about the evidential conversations that resulted in alterations to his way of thinking. And it is interesting and enlightening to follow his reasoning even if one doesn’t always agree with it. For example, he frequently quotes his ‘privileged’ private education and seems to presume that we all agree with him that it was simply splendid and provided him with opportunities denied the hoi-polloi and without which he, undoubtedly, would not be enjoying his current privileged position as a radio host and media personality. In doing so he makes a common error: he automatically assumes that his education was superior to that which is obtainable in common-or-garden state schools polluted as they no doubt are by said grubby members of that hoi-polloi, even though he recounts instances of abuse meted out, physical in his case, sexual in other cases involving fellow pupils, that seemed to be commonplace in this centre of educational excellence. And thus, he betrays his utter ignorance of the processes of teaching and learning and what, in reality, occurs within state schools, be they academies, grammar or comprehensive, etc. He equates the commonly held notion of private schooling, with its small classes populated with socio-economically privileged pupils with educational excellence, in the same way that some do regarding private healthcare and medical excellence. But I guess I should come clean about why I did take up this book: it was because I am a long-term fan of his and admit to finding satisfaction in his forensic deconstruction of some of the most fatuous ‘arguments’ ever to have occupied radio bandwidth, even if the words ‘duck’ ‘shooting’ and ‘barrel’ often come to mind. Ultimately, I’m left with the feeling that it wasn’t a great use of my time; after all, I could have been reading War and Peace, well, at least starting it – for about the fifth time!

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