Book review: Doubt (Hecht)

This 600-page brick by the poet and historian Jennifer Michael Hecht is written as a timeline from 600 BC to the 21st century. As most scholarships today focus on the belief systems that have defined history, while leaving Doubters burnt along the wayside, this book by Hecht shows the highlights from the history of doubt and its contribution to true belief and real innovation. Some of the histories in this book have religious undertones, but you will also find that great thinkers like Jefferson, Galileo and Socrates actually were big Doubters who changed the world. I have not read the whole book but when I have time it is nice to go back to a chapter in history and find that I am not alone!

My takeaway is that doubt is not just another way to challenge status quo or a work with negative undertones. It has traveled a long time and it is a prerequisite to belief and it changes the world. Inspired by this book, one of my stunts when coaching silent teams is to do a “reverse Galileo” and claim that the world is flat. This creates a safe topic to challenge, and discussions will run heated until I claim my defeat. But I prepare with science supporting my act and expect doubt in return and will not go down easily.

This review is a part of the book Psychological UNsafety from the trenches you can order or read more about here.

Ove Holmberg

Doubter, gaffer, author