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Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of…

Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error (edition 2010)

by Kathryn Schulz

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4751621,807 (3.85)44
Title:Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error
Authors:Kathryn Schulz
Info:Portobello Books (2010), Paperback, 272 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:non-fiction, minds and brains, read in 2014

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Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error by Kathryn Schulz



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» See also 44 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
I thought I would like it, but I was...
  Tytania | Jun 5, 2015 |
Like it says on the tin, this is a book about the agonies and ecstasies of error. Just as bats are batty and slugs sluggish, to err is human, according to our own cliches; Schultz argues that error is regularly a path to discovery and improvement, and that we need to handle error with more than the usual denial and repression. It’s charmingly written, though I’m not sure how much I learned from it in the end. ( )
  rivkat | May 31, 2015 |
Ok, I'm not done yet, and I will finish, but I've struggled with one of Schulz's major premises and in order to be able to read the rest of the book I have to say now: One cannot be "wrong" about *opinions.* for example: I may get a divorce from the man I fell in love with 10 years ago, but I was not "wrong" to have spent those years with him. Regret won't get me anywhere - it's irrelevant. Instead it makes much more sense to say "I've changed my mind." Or: I may believe that people who believe in a God and a Heaven & Hell are naive, but I cannot say they're "wrong." I have no specific evidence to say that some version of what they believe can't be true after all (no matter how I personally "know" otherwise). Or: we all believe, and know, that abortion is wrong, but those of us who are pro-choice know that it is less wrong than restricting a woman's right to make decisions for her own body. Nor are political choices "wrong" - we vote for representatives and leaders who seem sympathetic with our priorities, ie education vs war, or, more universal health care vs loss of some free-market manueverability for the industry.

My point is that "wrongs" of these types are easy to cope with for anybody who is thoughtful enough to read this book. Those people don't need to read it. However, those others who paint the world in "right vs wrong" and "black vs white" in the realm of *opinion* will *not* read this book. Which in my opinion is unfortunate; they're the ones who need to.

I'd hoped, when I entered to win this, that I'd get help with how to cope more sanely/ effectively with each discovery that I'm wrong about something *factual.* So far not so much but we'll see when I get to the concluding chapters. Then again, I already use care, and until I've fact-checked with other conclusive sources, I do say, "To the best of my knowledge...." or, "Based on the information I have...." or, "In my considered opinion...." or, "Speaking for myself...." or at least, "I see often that...."


ETA: I'm done. I tried really hard to appreciate Schulz's effort, despite our disagreement about what the word "wrong" means. Iow, I decided to accept that she was using it very inclusively. But, I still don't think it's a very good book. She really doesn't say much she couldn't say in a thoughtful essay. It was much more philosophical than scientific, which *could* have been good *if* she'd presented it that way.

Basically, she espouses that we stop thinking of wrong as bad, and embrace errors as the basis for further learning and growth, for creativity, science, art, and comedy, for effective relationships, and for a healthy dose of humility. And, maybe because she's young, and/ or a New Yorker, and/or a journalist, she assumes she needs a whole book that took her a long time to write to be able to tell us those things. Problem is, she is a journalist etc. I'm older and I'd've appreciated a little more care, a little more of a scientific approach. She kept falling victim to the error-generating strategies she was alerting us to - for example saying "we" all the time as if every one of her readers is just as pig-headed and scatter-brained as she admits to being!

(Same problem I had with *Traffic* - lots of research and scientific citations, but neither writer actually used a rigorous approach to the arguments.)

It does have lots of interesting anecdotes and bits culled from research, and a few insights I can use to feel more empathetic to the frustrated & frustrating people around me.

Those of us who already know how to learn from our mistakes, laugh at ourselves when we err, think creatively by reading science fiction or playing social games, and have friends and family members with differing political or religious perspectives don't need to read this. And those of us who haven't learned how to be ok with being wrong aren't likely to read this. So, I recommend it only to fans of pop psychology who have several extra hours to kill. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
Excellent book. Provides a tremendous amount of insight without being dry or preachy. I highly recommend it to everyone who wants to understand people behave as they do. ( )
  grandpahobo | Mar 23, 2015 |
I may be wrong about this, but Being Wrong is a very good book. Kathryn Schulz uses personal stories from a variety of sources, such as a wrongfully identified criminal, people losing their religion, and more trivial instances of mistakes, to explain just what is so humiliating about being wrong, and why it is so darn satisfying to be right. And she does all this with a consistently conversational tone, friendly and funny but not too funny when the more serious stories are being told.

In addition to intriguing stories, Schulz provides a very good potted introduction to philosophy by quoting from many major philosophers to illustrate the varying perspectives on "wrongness" and error. Most people nowadays would probably consider error to be something humiliating, that doesn't happen very often. But it does, all the time. Schulz argues that, where possible, we should try to see the positive side of error. It can stimulate creativity, broaden the mind or even change our lives for the better. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Nov 5, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
What is most cherishable about this bumper book of other people's booboos is its insistence that to experience error is, at its best, to find adventure – and even contentment. Schulz takes as her model Don Quixote, the knight-errant who was wrong about almost everything. "Countless studies have shown that people who suffer from depression have more accurate world views than non-depressed people," she points out.
added by mikeg2 | editThe guardian, Stuart Jeffries (Aug 28, 2010)
“Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error" is an insightful and delightful discussion of the errors of our ways — why we make mistakes, why we don’t know we are making them and what we do when recognition dawns.

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kathryn Schulzprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barron, MiaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.

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