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

by Kathryn Schulz

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5061720,102 (3.84)51
Member:bragan
Title:Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error
Authors:Kathryn Schulz
Info:Portobello Books (2010), Paperback, 272 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
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 51 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
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...."

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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 | Jun 6, 2016 |
This book is an interesting, often amusing, look at being wrong. What makes us wrong? Why do we so often experience negative feeling when we make mistakes?

Ms. Shulz's argument is that we should embrace being wrong. It is what makes us human, and what opens the door to learning, innovation and creativity. ( )
  LynnB | Jan 27, 2016 |
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 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (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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Epigraph
Perhaps the history of the errors of mankind, all things considered, is more valuable and interesting that that of their discoveries.  Truth is uniform and narrow; it constantly exists, and does not seem to require so much an active energy, as a passive aptitude of soul in order to encounter it.  But error is endlessly diversified; it has not reality, but is the pure and simple creation of the mind that invents it.  In this field, the soul has room enough to expand herself, to display all her boundless faculties, and all her beautiful and interesting extravagancies and absurdities. -- Benjamin Franklin, Report of Dr. Benjamin Franklin, and Other Commissioners, Charged by the King of France, with the Examination of the Animal Magnetism, as Now Practiced in Paris (1784).
Man: You said pound cake.  Woman:  I didn't say pound cake, I said crumb cake.  Man: You said pound cake.  Woman:  Don't tell me what I said.  Man:  You said pound cake.  Woman:  I said crumb cake.  Man:  I actually saw the crumb cake but I didn't get it because you said pound cake.  Woman:  I said crumb cake.  Man:  Well, I  heard pound cake.  Woman:  Then you obviously weren't listening.  Crumb cake doesn't even sound like pound cake.  Man:  Well, maybe you accidentally said pound cake.  Woman:  I said crumb cake. -- overhead in Grand Central Station, November 13, 2008.
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For my family, given and chosen.  And for Michael and Amanda, at whose expense I wrote about what I knew
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Why is is so fun to be right?
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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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