Being Wrong by Kathryn Schulz

Being Wrong

In the tradition of The Wisdom of Crowds and Predictably Irrational comes Being Wrong, an illuminating exploration of what it means to be in error and why homo sapiens tend to tacitly assume (or loudly insist) that they are right about almost everything. Kathryn Schulz, editor of Grist magazine, argues that error is the fundamental human condition and should be celebrated as such. Guiding the reader through the history and psychology of error, fr...

Details Being Wrong

TitleBeing Wrong
Release DateJun 8th, 2010
PublisherHarperCollins e-books
GenreNonfiction, Psychology, Science, Philosophy, Sociology, Business

Reviews Being Wrong

  • Will Byrnes
    I have a very strong memory of the day my youngest was born. I can still summon the piercing scent of puddled broken water in a middle room of the second floor of our house. Problem is that my daughter was born before we moved into that house. Yet I, and hopefully everyone else who comes up short in a quest for perfection, can take solace from this outstanding book. Kathryn Schulz - image from TEDSchulz coins the term “wrongology” as a tag fo...
  • David
    I am not a particularly violent person. But there were so many places in this book where I wanted to sit the author down, smack her briskly and scream at her "What were you thinking? It started with the very first word in the book, freshly minted for the occasion by the author. You read it and experience an involuntary recoil of revulsion at the sheer tin-eared ugliness of it. For God's sake, Kathryn Schulz, please don't title your opening chapte...
  • Trish
    Schultz' review of H is for Hawk in the New Yorker magazine this spring really made me take notice not only of Macdonald's book but also of the art of reviewing. Schultz's review was as gorgeous and thoughtful as Macdonald's book. I set out to see what else Schultz wrote.I really like Schultz' premise on this one: we feel badly when we make mistakes, but everyone does it. As Schultz points out, before Descartes ("I think, therefore I am") was St....
  • Ed
    Absolutely loved this book, which really does uncover the extent to which we deny our mistakes and how much we would gain by admitting them, at least to ourselves. There is also an art to understanding that doubt is good so long as it does not paralyze us. The author found that when she told people that she was writing about mistakes, they all said: 'Oh I have made tons of mistakes in my life'. She would reply: 'Oh it would really help my resear...
  • Jane
    This is really a must-read. Do you realize how little we can trust ourselves to perceive the truth? This is a great analysis of how we get things wrong, why it matters, and why errors can be a good thing in the journey of life. Plus, its analysis of Hamlet is spot on. I mean, if the only evidence of murder you have is a ghost's message, don't you think you'd better try to vet the facts a bit before taking justice in your own hands?-g
  • Sarah
    Being Wrong. Kathryn Schulz. 2010. Ecco. 400 pages. ISBN 9780061176043.Being Wrong is an exploration of how and why making errors is a crucial, natural and necessary component of being human, and how we must embrace being wrong to grow as people.Falling into the psychology versus scientific realm, Being Wrong provides an interesting history of wrongness using numerous examples of pop-culture incidents; if you can consider an intricate look at bei...
  • Kate
    Interesting how polarizing this book is. I think an open mind and a willingness to be wrong are helpful as you read; there's a lot to be gotten from the psychological delving. An excellent examination of the psychological and physiological aspects of "being wrong." The first 1/2-2/3 of the book are dedicated to explaning WHY we are wrong, and why we usually think we are right! The rest of the book talks about acknowledging when we are wrong and w...
  • Jack Hart
    This is, to my way of thinking, an extraordinary book about a great topic. Although, if you're not an intellectually ambitious person the book may seem to have, as several Good Reads reviewers opined, too damn many words. But I like Kathryn Schulz's prose. She knows her western canon and cites it deftly. In the course of elaborating her ideas about the experience of wrongness she'll even uncover a novel point here and there about the literature a...
  • Julianna
    Reviewed for THC ReviewsIf not for it being our latest book club read, I’m not sure I would have picked up Being Wrong on my own, not because it didn’t sound interesting (it did and was one of my top picks among the choices we voted for this month), but because I may not have found it without someone else bringing it to my attention. It’s simply not the type of book that probably would have come up in my day-to-day browsing of reading recom...
  • Reese
    My copy of BEING WRONG: ADVENTURES IN THE MARGIN OF ERROR was a gift -- a Goodreads giveaway. My being wrong -- occasionally, frequently, perhaps consistently -- is a "gift" from our Creator and/or my creators. The ways in which I experience being wrong are probably also "gifts" from my creators, teachers, friends, et al. As a parent, I have passed on the "gift" of intermittent or perpetual wrongness and promoted certain reactions to being wrong....
  • Jim
    Think about the last time you were wrong. Can you remember it? I could, after taking some time to think about it. I thought my car had been stolen, and had reported it stolen, before I realized that I'd left it in the parking lot of a nearby Safeway and walked home with my groceries by mistake. I wonder if the police dispatchers still laugh at that one, or if the incident's been replaced in their memories by others like it that happen a dozen tim...
  • George Musser
    A worthwhile read that gives me much to think about in my own life. Schulz's broad point is that the fear of committing an error is often worse than the error itself -- it fills us with a fear of exploration and prevents us from acknowledging, correcting, and learning from our mistakes. The risk of error is often a necessary tradeoff for creativity and growth. I think Schulz convincingly makes her case.  I vow to ease up on screwups, whether min...
  • Elizabeth Hunter
    I found Being Wrong slow going, not because I wasn't enjoying it--although I do think that the first couple of chapters are the most dense--but because I needed to stop and digest and think about how what Schulz says resonates with my own experiences. One of the things I enjoyed most about the book, was Schulz' examination and concise rendering of questions I've often pondered. She looks at why we're wrong so often, why we have trouble admitting ...
  • Stewart
    Over many years I have grappled with the related issues of error, ignorance, and uncertainty. When measured against what there is to know, what we humans do in fact know is in the order of zero-point-several zeroes. No matter how well-read, well-traveled, or well-informed we think we are, our ignorance is immense. We have to make decisions – most trivial, many of them life-changing, a few of them life-and-death – based on a trifling amount of...
  • Expanding Bookshelf
    I consider myself the consummate fuckup. Even when I succeed in accomplishing something difficult, once the warmth of self-congratulatory celebration dissipates I can’t help thinking about every screw up and each way they’ll likely weigh me down during the course of my life the rest of my life and preclude me from divinity and the promises of pennies from heaven. I know a lot of people who think like this while we know that this manner of thi...
  • Chris Walker
    Great stuff. This is what writers are for. To set down in language what you feel but can't necessarily enunciate well yourself. Take this example: "Fortunately, we don't get stuck in this place of pure wrongness very often. And we don't get stuck there via the collapse of small or medium-size beliefs. We get stuck there when we are really wrong about really big things - beliefs so important and far-reaching that we can neither easily replace them...
  • Cathy
    I don't know about you but I'm rarely, if ever, wrong. No, really! I'm almost always right and the same is probably true of you. As Kathryn Schulz, author of Being Wrong; Adventures in the Margin of Error, explains, it's almost hardwired in humans to dislike being mistaken. Being wrong, even about minor things, makes almost everyone so incredibly, throughly uncomfortable that we often can't admit to ourselves that we've made a mistake. Yet, being...
  • Nicole Lisa
    This is an excellent read on how we go wrong, how we think about and react to going wrong, and about the place wrongness has in Western society.The optical illusions are great. I had to print them out and cut them up myself to believe that my eyes were lying. The brief mention of autism has not aged well and the author chose to include the racist slurs in quotes which I just felt was unnecessary since we all know what those slurs are in the conte...
  • Kate
    Two truths readily acknowledged: being right feels oh so good, and being wrong feels just awful. Nuff said? No! As it turns out, there's a lot more to be said, and Ms. Schulz says it quite elegantly, entertainingly, and movingly. With examples ranging from the mundane to the tragic, she carefully explains precisely how errors come about and why we feel about them as we do. Along the way, she makes the point that error not only has the capability ...
  • Ryan Holiday
    I should have liked this more than I did. Having sat on it a bit, I kept going back to thinking how much I like the author. The book's a bit long at times and redundant, and I don't think it's organized well, but it's the right kind of book. There's actually a saying in the The Present Alone is Our Happiness: Interviews with Pierre Hadot -- that real philosophical dialog sets out to form rather than inform. That's what this book does. Most of the...
  • Raj Agrawal
    An exploration of wrongness as the essence of the human condition -- something that not only should be expected, but embraced as a central tenant of life. Takes Kuhn, Kahneman, and Jervis a step further into practical discussion and brainstorming. While the author often takes self-involved tangents on occasion, this book must be included in the discussion of bias, error, and decision making. Reading this book takes some patience since the author ...
  • Gwern
    Touched on a lot of the standard points and citations you'd see somewhere in skeptical literature like LessWrong, but in a very much fuzzier humanities sort of way. Couldn't really recommend it unless you're the sort of person who has never heard of Tetlock or Quine or the studies on eyewitness fallibility or read their Kahneman etc - for beginners only.
  • Laura
    I enjoyed this book, but had to break it up by reading other things throughout - it was really slow at times. The author repeated herself a lot, and you get the gist of it after the first chapter. However, it was worth reading the full book - a lot of the stories scattered throughout were really thought-provoking.
  • Manuel Palacio
    i love this book so far. one of my favorite is the quote: “The fact remains that getting people right is not what living is all about anyway. It's getting them wrong that is living, getting them wrong and wrong and wrong and then, on careful reconsideration, getting them wrong again. That's how we know we're alive: we're wrong.”― Philip Roth
  • Red
    I really thought I was going to like this. I guess I was...
  • Jessica
    Interesting but also dry. Hard for me to concentrate on the philosophical parts of the first 1/3rds of the book.
  • Forrest
    It would be easy to simply say that reading Being Wrong is a small but powerful life changing experience. It very much is, but just saying that is a bit of a cop-out. The book is a brilliantly written examination of the concept of error from every perspective imaginable. Schulz explores wrongness as an outside observer, a philosopher, a victim and a compassionate friend. By so fully embracing the idea on every level, she synthesizes a unified the...
  • Emma
    DNF. This book sounded really interesting and started out strong, but I was over an hour into the audiobook and I hadn't even gotten past the intro. It wa as the intro that never ended so I folded.
  • Anne
    We all live steeped in the false security that feeling right bestows upon us.This book is written for those who want to understand more about what this means. It is a neglected and deeply human attribute: being wrong, feeling wrong, discovering one's wrongness, changing as a result—or, more usually, denying it, ducking and running from the acknowledgement of error. I was fascinated, particularly so once I got through the first chapters. The wri...