Book Recommendation: Why Societies Need Dissent

If you liked my article on informational cascades then you will probably want to read Cass Sunstein’s Why Societies Need Dissent. Sunstein, a law professor at the University of Chicago, writes in detail about the impact of informational cascades on democratic dialogue, the rulings of panels of judges, and other critical areas related to civil discourse. He also writes about their counterpart, reputational cascades (where people go along to get along) and about polarization effects (where people talking to like-minded people tend to come out more extreme in their positions than when they started the conversation). As a bonus, the end notes are just chock full of great references. Its the kind of book where you spend half your time jumping back and forth between the main text and the notes because you just want to know where he’s coming up with this stuff.

This is a very important book, in my view. Oddly, it doesn’t read quite as compellingly as it ought to (possibly because it is taken from a series of guest lectures at a law school) but it’s not a terrible read by any stretch of the imagination. It just needs a few good stories to spice it up a bit. At any rate, the content is incredibly informative, and even if it doesn’t quite read like The da Vinci Code, it’s a page turner in its own way.

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About Michael Feldstein

Michael Feldstein is co-Publisher of e-Literate, co-Producer of e-Literate TV, and Partner in MindWires Consulting. For more information, see his profile page.
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