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Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error

In a 2008 TED talk, Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs fame is telling the story of neutering lambs. He is expecting to do it the Humane Society way and is surprised to learn that the shepherd has a quicker and more humane way of doing things. In the story, Rowe says “I am standing there with testicles on my chin, and I realize I was wrong. In fact I am wrong so much of the time.”

Who wants to be wrong? If we are being honest we all want to be right. We all think we are right, in fact most of us won’t admit when we are not right. I know I am guilty of this, but I am a recovering wrong-aholic. Are you? I catch myself dismissing news stories or information given to me by family and friends that doesn’t jive with what I believe. Conversely, I am drawn to stories and friends that support my belief system. Our brain is wired in such a way that we don’t want to adhere to someone else’s reality. We would rather have them agree with ours. Schulz explores the different sources of error as well as the social and psychological consequences of being wrong and admitting when you are wrong. The message is: “We are wrong most of the time, embrace it!” That may be a tough pill to swallow.

Schulz doesn’t make Being Wrong an easy or light read. It is, however, filled with stories and anecdotes that make it relatable and interesting. And she builds her case. If you want a sneak preview, take a look at her TED talk: Enjoy!


Kathryn Schulz





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