Culture — April 21, 2011
Wrongologist Kathryn Schulz on being wrong
Most of us will do anything to avoid being wrong. But what if we’re wrong about that? “Wrongologist” Kathryn Schulz makes a compelling case for not just admitting but embracing our fallibility.
This delightful TED talk addresses the roots of a spiritual disposition, which is that of “not-knowing”. Schulz speaks of the need for the awakening of our intuitive awareness in contrast to the western cultural obsession with rational knowledge and the presumption that it is information that is the root of human happiness.
Our culture is rooted in the worship of science, which is simply a system of knowing about the functional world, and it tends to deny the feeling world that is greater than functionality. Schulz addresses our deep-rooted obsession with being right (or knowing), and illuminates the freedom that comes from recognizing this pattern in ourselves and learning to let go of the neurotic clinging to the self image of being right. Her talk points to the necessity for allowing for a disposition of ignorance, or the confession that humans will never fully comprehend a universe that is so obviously an appearance far more vast and mysterious than we will ever understand or control.
Kathryn Schulz is a journalist, author, and public speaker with a credible (if not necessarily enviable) claim to being the world’s leading wrongologist. Her freelance writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, TIME Magazine, the Boston Globe, the “Freakonomics” blog of The New York Times, The Nation, Foreign Policy, and the New York Times Book Review, among other publications. She is the former editor of the online environmental magazine Grist, and a former reporter and editor for The Santiago Times, of Santiago, Chile, where she covered environmental, labor, and human rights issues. She was a 2004 recipient of the Pew Fellowship in International Journalism (now the International Reporting Project), and has reported from throughout Central and South America, Japan, and, most recently, the Middle East. A graduate of Brown University and a former Ohioan, Oregonian and Brooklynite, she currently lives in New York’s Hudson Valley.
Schulz is the author of “Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error,” and writes “The Wrong Stuff“, a Slate series featuring interviews with high-profile people about how they think and feel about being wrong.
Here’s a fascinating counterpoint to the notion that making a mistake somehow diminishes you as a person. We shouldn’t fear error, says author Schulz; rather, we should embrace it because it’s our capacity for making mistakes that makes us who we are. "To err is human" isn’t just an empty cliché. Schulz casts a fresh and irreverent eye upon the profound meanings behind our most ordinary behaviors -in this instance, how we make mistakes, how we behave when we find we have been wrong, and how our errors change us.