Monday, April 18, 2011

being wrong

In her book, Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error by Kathryn Schulz, Ms. Schulz says,

     "A whole lot of us go through life assuming that we are basically right, basically all the time, about basically everything: about our political and intellectual convictions, our religious and moral beliefs, our assessment of other people, our memories, our grasp of facts. As absurd as it sounds when we stop to think about it, our steady state seems to be one of unconsciously assuming that we are very close to omniscient."

What does it mean to be wrong?

After the whole VegNews controversy, I've been thinking about what it means to be wrong. It had recently come to light that VegNews magazine has been using non-vegetarian stock photos of meat and passing them off as photos of vegan recipes. See the pictures below:
In their twitter response,  I never really found the apology I expected from VegNews for being wrong. 

As a culture, our reluctance to admit that we are wrong is a sad failing. As Ms. Schulz also says in her book,

     "As a culture, we haven't even mastered the basic skill of saying, 'I was wrong.' This is a startling deficiency, given the simplicity of the phrase, the ubiquity of error, and the tremendous public service that acknowledging it can provide. Instead what we have mastered are two alternatives to admitting our mistakes... The first involves a small but strategic addendum: 'I was wrong, BUT...' a blank we then fill in with wonderfully imaginative explanations for why we weren't so wrong after all. The second is even more telling: we say, 'mistakes were made'... all we really know how to do with our errors is not acknowledge them as our own."

But still, what does it mean to be wrong?

Perhaps, however embarrassing, disorienting, difficult, or humbling our mistakes might be, it is ultimately our wrongness, not our rightness, that can teach us who we are.

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