Saturday, May 28, 2011

On Being Wrong

Kathryn Schulz absolutely nails it:



(Hat tip Saganist and Jon Adams)

This is one of the biggest things I've learned in my life: it is inevitable that some of the things you believe are wrong.

A lot of it is due to invisible assumptions -- beliefs you hold without even realizing you hold them because you've never really consciously noticed them. (Here are some past posts where I learned from new experiences and by noticing my own invisible assumptions.)

Even on questions you've spent some time thinking about (and have reached a conclusion), it's important not to get too emotionally attached to your conclusions. Always be ready to question your conclusions when presented with new arguments or new evidence. (Here are some posts where I learned from my own errors and reconsidered my conclusions.)

There's no shame in being wrong (even publicly) and admitting to it. Refusing to ever recognize or admit your own errors -- dogmatically fighting to the death to back all your past statements to avoid ever having been wrong -- (ironically?) makes you less credible, not more.

It's how Science zeroes in on accurate results, and it works on a personal level too! :D

4 comments:

Saganist said...

This is seriously one of the best talks I have ever seen. I've watched it three times and it gets better every time. It inspired me to check out her book Being Wrong from the library, and so far it is fantastic. I wish the world had more wrongologists.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Saganist!!!

So true!

And I'm sorry I failed to link my hat-tip to you. When I was writing this post, I did a quick search in my saved links file to find the video of the talk, and Jon's link came up. But now that I look again, I actually watched this video first on your blog. I'll edit my post.

Paul Sunstone said...

It seems you can hardly believe anything in some fields these days before new science overturns it. Neurotheology seems to be a case in point. I'm doing a short series of blog posts on deity -- bet by the time I get done every last post will be outdated.

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