Thursday, October 7, 2010

Howard’s Inner Circle, No. 22: I Could Be …

On the whole according to Karen Schulz, “our indiscriminate enjoyment of being right is matched by an almost equally indiscriminate feeling that we are right.” She adds “If being right is succulent, being wrong runs a, narrow, unhappy gamut from nauseating to worse than death.”

This aversion for being wrong is perhaps why I found “Being Wrong—Adventures in the Margin of Error” by Kathryn Schulz so fascinating. First of all it is a subject that few fully understand, explore, or write about. Second, and most important, it is a professional journalist’s treatment of the subject. Ms. Schulz provides many well-documented examples that illustrate how being right and being wrong are interrelated in so many surprising ways and how significantly they impact our emotional and societal frameworks.

As to the individual, Schulz points out that “…[O}ur beliefs are in extricable from our identities. That’s one reason why being wrong can so easily wound our sense of self.” Regarding to the communities we live in, she points to a so-called disagreement deficit which supports what we think as being right. “First our communities expose us to disproportionate support for our own ideas. Second, they shield us from the disagreement of outsiders. Third they cause us to disregard whatever outside disagreement we do encounter. Finally, they quash the development of disagreement from within.” Schulz observes.

One of the questions that Schulz asks is: “Do we have an obligation to others to contemplate the possibility that we are wrong?”

Is she right?

© 2010
The above may be reproduced in full if that fact is stated and Howard Wolosky is credited as the author.

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