sábado, 15 de junio de 2013

Being Wrong

Post       : BEING WRONG
URL        : http://hbgelatt.wordpress.com/2013/06/13/being-wrong/
Posted     : June 13, 2013 at 9:00 pm
Author     : hbgelatt
Categories : H B Gelatt



BEING WRONG, by Kathryn Schulz, 2010


  H B Gelatt 




This is a blog about one of my favorite books. I want to share my reactions to some


 of the highlights of my years of reading. Author’s quotes are in italics.




Kathryn Schulz proposes a new way of looking at wrongness. In this view, error is
both a given

and a gift --- one that can transform our worldviews, our relationships, and most
profoundly, ourselves. First she discusses error blindness --- when falsehoods are
invisible to us.




People who are wrong, but feel strongly that they are right, usually have the least
knowledge about

the subject. And they are least likely to change their belief when given facts. I
like this because it

supports my emphasis on uncertainty and shows the dangers of dogma and certainty.
And yet it

also shows the difficulty of my “process of illuminating” the way we see things.
Error blindness

is hard (sometimes impossible?) to overcome.




This book, written in 2010, reinforced what I had previously written and influenced
what I have written since --- especially in two areas: perception and beliefs.




Failures of perception capture the essential nature of error.


Of the very long list of reasons we can get tings wrong, the most elementary of them
all is that our

senses fail us. Perception is the interpretation of sensation. Interpretation
implies wiggle room. The wiggle room provides the opportunity for being wrong.
Whenever there is interpretation there is

room for error. 




No matter what these processes do, though, one thing remains the same: we have no
idea that we

are doing it. Our perceptions operate almost entirely below the level of conscious

ironically, we cannot sense how we sense. To me, this all makes “good sense.”  And
it is why I

think we need to illuminate and understand the way we see things, including our

But I wonder if illumination is always possible.




If we want to understand how we err, we need to look at how we believe.


Schultz discusses the difference between knowledge and belief.  She points out that
how we

determine we know or don’t know something is deeply, unfixably flawed.  She says we
love to

know things; we are bad at recognizing when we don’t know something; and very, very
good at

making stuff up. To understand being wrong, she favors the category of belief.


In the end it is belief that is by far the broader, more complex, and more
interesting category. It is,

I will argue, the atomic unit of our intelligence. But it is true (and not
coincidental) that belief is also

the atomic unit of error.




Looking at how we believe has been a major theme of mine for years: “believing is

beliefs R us; we believe what we want to be true; beliefs have consequences.”

subjectivity, and uncertainty are features of my writing. So it seems obvious to me
why I liked

this book. And this caused me to believe others would like this partial summary. Of
course, I could be wrong!






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