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Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Errorby Kathryn Schulz
Synopses & Reviews
To err is human. Yet most of us go through life assuming (and sometimes insisting) that we are right about nearly everything, from the origins of the universe to how to load the dishwasher. If being wrong is so natural, why are we all so bad at imagining that our beliefs could be mistaken, and why do we react to our errors with surprise, denial, defensiveness, and shame?
In Being Wrong, journalist Kathryn Schulz explores why we find it so gratifying to be right and so maddening to be mistaken, and how this attitude toward error corrodes relationships—whether between family members, colleagues, neighbors, or nations. Along the way, she takes us on a fascinating tour of human fallibility, from wrongful convictions to no-fault divorce; medical mistakes to misadventures at sea; failed prophecies to false memories; "I told you so!" to "Mistakes were made." Drawing on thinkers as varied as Augustine, Darwin, Freud, Gertrude Stein, Alan Greenspan, and Groucho Marx, she proposes a new way of looking at wrongness. In this view, error is both a given and a gift—one that can transform our worldviews, our relationships, and, most profoundly, ourselves.
In the end, Being Wrong is not just an account of human error but a tribute to human creativity—the way we generate and revise our beliefs about ourselves and the world. At a moment when economic, political, and religious dogmatism increasingly divide us, Schulz explores with uncommon humor and eloquence the seduction of certainty and the crises occasioned by error. A brilliant debut from a new voice in nonfiction, this book calls on us to ask one of life's most challenging questions: what if I'm wrong?
On the heels of the success of "The Wisdom of Crowds" and "Predictably Irrational" comes a thoughtful and persuasive celebration of human fallibility that examines what it means to be right or wrong--and why it matters so much to us.
Journalist "explores why we find it so gratifying to be right and so maddening to be mistaken, and how this attitude toward error corrodes relationships." She claims that "error is both a given and a gift — one that can transform our worldviews, our relationships, and, most profoundly, ourselves."
About the Author
Kathryn Schulz is a journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, the Nation, Foreign Policy, and the Huffington Post, among other publications. She is the former editor of the online magazine Grist and a former reporter and editor for the Santiago Times, of Santiago, Chile, where she covered environmental, labor, and human rights issues. She was a 2004 recipient of the Pew Fellowship in International Journalism and has reported from throughout Central and South America, Japan, and, most recently, the Middle East. A former Ohioan, Oregonian, and Brooklynite, she currently lives in New York's Hudson Valley.
Table of Contents
The idea of error. Wrongology ; Two models of wrongness — The origins of error. Our senses ; Our minds, part one: Knowing, not knowing, and making it up ; Our minds, part two: Belief ; Our minds, part three: Evidence ; Our society ; The allure of certainty — The experience of error. Being wrong ; How wrong? ; Denial and acceptance ; Heartbreak ; Transformation — Embracing error. The paradox of error ; The optimistic meta-induction from the history of everything.
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