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Most of the time, we want to be right more than anything, don't we?



The intriguing thing is that even when we ARE wrong, at the time, it feels like we're right. So, how does it feel to be wrong? Exactly the same way it feels to be right. It's only finding out that we were wrong that is infuriating. {We were quite satisfied, however, during the entire time we were, in fact, being wrong.}

I'm reading Kathryn Schulz' treasure of a book, BEING WRONG: ADVENTURES IN THE MARGIN OF ERROR (2010). Schulz is a journalist who also writes for the Freakonomics blog of the New York Times. So she knows how to look at ordinary events in our social lives and get us thinking about them, differently. She's an original observer of human behavior who writes with perfect comic timing about, "Wrongology." I should probably offer a course at the university called "Wrongology 101." I suspect it'd fill in a nanosecond at registration. We need to master the skill of admitting, "I was wrong," but we haven't.

For most of us (okay, all of us, actually), we've only spent time thinking about wrong-thinking when we're in the middle of trying to point out to someone else how wrong they are. As a culture, we reject error. Of all the things we're taught in school, no one gives us a clue about how to pick up the pieces and gracefully be wrong. So, as Schulz smilingly shoves in our faces, we collapse when our truths are pulled out from under us. Maybe, she suggests, we're wrong when we think about being wrong.

Our brains are burdened with error-blindness, we have amnesia for our mistakes, and our minds instantly overwrite our proven-wrong beliefs: "This is the received wisdom about error: that it is dangerous, humiliating, distasteful, and, all told, un-fun in the extreme," (p. 27). The most fun you will have, however, with glimpsing your own wrongness, may be in reading this book. From everyday stuff we get wrong, the paradox of error, the role our senses and rogue mind play in masking our errors, and the seductive allure of certainty, it turns out to be fun reading about being wrong. Maybe, she points out, being wrong is utterly necessary and the only (un-fun) way towards some of our best adventures.

Still, being wrong haunts us. As Schultz points out, we can relish being right about almost anything—but rightness never turns out to be ours to enjoy all the time. An impressive amount of the time, actually, someone is annoyingly nearby to point out to us our wrongness. Worth thinking about. The truth is, though, being right is still more fun. 

 


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    SunWolf

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