From Talk of the Nation on NPR. 30 minutes long.   - DG

Kathryn Schulz On Learning To Love 'Being Wrong'

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington.

Once upon a time, everybody knew the sun revolved around the Earth, until we didn't. Right now, a bunch of things we all believe are probably just as wrong, on the large scale of celestial mechanics or something more mundane like the best route to avoid the beach traffic.

Either way, admitting we got it wrong just isn't easy. We like to be right. In fact, we assume we are right. And the rare admission that, I was wrong, is usually followed by the word "but." Wrong is stupid, dumb, disastrous or maybe sinful. But what if we're all wrong about being wrong?

In a new book, freelance journalist Kathryn Schulz argues that it's time to embrace our errors. Through anecdotes from ancient philosophers to stories about modern-day screw-ups, she explains where our errors come from, why we find them so hard to face, how we respond when beliefs fail us - and proposes a new model where errors can transform the world around us and ourselves.

Read the rest of the transcript here, or listen to the podcast here. Here is the book: Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error


Tags: NPR, Talk of the Nation, books, knowledge, radio, right, science, skepticism, understanding, wrong

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Replies to This Discussion

Great article.

Thing is, I think we all realise at some level that we should admit to ourselves when we're wrong. The problem is that there's a big difference between knowing what we should be doing and actually doing it. As Ms. Schulz points out, part of this urge to be right is evolutionairy in nature, so it's really a bitch to fight.

Just being aware of it can help a lot though.
I often admit being wrong even when knowing I'm true.

For some reason it makes me look honest to others :^)
Here is another podcast with the author. - DG

Adventures in the Margin of Error
How hard is it for you to admit you're wrong when you're wrong and why are we, as humans, so bad at accepting our errors? Kathryn Schulz looks into this phenomenon regularly on her Slate blog "The Wrong Stuff." Her new book is "Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error" (Ecco, 2010). We'll talk with her this hour.


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