Being Wrong

Adventures in the Margin of Error

By Kathryn Schulz
(Ecco Press, Hardcover, 9780061176043, 405pp.)

Publication Date: June 2010

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Description

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 relationshipswhether 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 giftone 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 creativitythe 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?




About the Author
Kathryn Schulz is a journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, Foreign Policy, the Nation, the Boston Globe, and the "Freakonomics" blog of the New York Times. She lives in New York's Hudson Valley.


NPR
Monday, Jun 7, 2010

No one's perfect. We all make mistakes, and we hate to admit it. But Schulz argues that it's time to embrace our errors. In her book, Being Wrong, she explains why we make so many mistakes, why we find them so hard to admit and what we can do about it. More at NPR.org

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