Devils Advocate

Benefit: Thinking from the opposing side


Devil’s advocate position. This was once an official position in the Catholic Church used during the process of canonizing people as saints. Once someone is canonized, the decision is eternal, so it was critical to get it right. Hence this position was created for someone to advocate from the Devil’s point of view against the deceased person’s case for sainthood.

More broadly, playing the Devil’s advocate means taking up an opposing side of an argument, even if it is one you don’t agree with. One approach is to force yourself literally to write down different cases for a given decision or appoint different members in a group to do so. Another, more effective approach is to proactively include people in a decision-making process who are known to hold opposing viewpoints. Doing so will help everyone involved more easily see the strength in other perspectives and force you to craft a more compelling argument in favor of what you believe. As Charlie Munger says, “I never allow myself to have an opinion on anything that I don’t know the other side’s argument better than they do.

Excerpt From: Gabriel Weinberg. “Super Thinking.” iBooks.