Things That You Are Wrong About

by Randy Murray on August 23, 2010

Humans have one trait in common no matter where they live on this planet: they are wrong about things.

Usually they’re wrong a lot of things (for some people I’ll advance that to “wrong about most things”). They’re wrong about things that they’ve believed or held true all of their lives. They’re mistaken about things that they argue with people about, end friendships and business relationships over. Being wrong has a high cost and many people never realize how much they’re causing themselves needless suffering by being wrong.

All mature, intelligent adults share one additional trait: they are able to change their minds. The ability to say, “I was wrong about . . .” is one of the most important identifiers of intelligence and depth. There are few things that frustrate me more than seeing someone confronted with clear evidence that they were wrong, mistaken, or uninformed about a subject and to see that person continue to fight and argue, to do anything but admit they were wrong.  OK, there is one thing more frustrating: a leader or politician who cannot change from a course of action because even though they know they were wrong or are on the wrong path, they cannot alter from their course of action because they’ll be labeled a “waffler.” For those leaders and those who label them, I recommend The March Of Folly.

When I originally began thinking about this subject I intended to compose a long list of the things that you are wrong about.  I didn’t have to be concerned about who in particular reads this – you’re all pretty much wrong about a lot of stuff.  But most of the stuff you are wrong about falls into the three categories I’ve pretty much avoided writing about here: religion, politics, and sex.

I could turn it the other way and list the things that I have been wrong about, but that would be an equally long list. I’ll let you write up your own list. It is an informative exercise.

I have two suggestions:

  1. Teach your young children something verifiably false. You must start with them very young and be very clear, detailed, and back it up with complete nonsense. If you’re lucky, they’ll later discover that something they believed was false and make the leap to the all-important realization, “I wonder what else they’ve been lying to me about?” Congratulations! You’ve set your child on the healthy road to skepticism and a life long pursuit of checking things out, probing, and thinking. And Merry Christmas!
  2. Proudly and publicly announce when you’ve been wrong. In particular and if possible, detail, in writing, if only for yourself, how you came to be wrong as precisely as possible and how you discovered your error. Now ask yourself the question: “I wonder what else I’ve been wrong about?” Congratulations, you’re now a skeptic, too!

Looking at evidence, thinking about things, and changing one’s mind, are not signs of weakness. They are the prime indicators of intelligence and depth. Celebrate your discoveries, follow the evidence wherever it leads, and glory in your new realizations.

But remember, you’re might still be wrong about it.

The Things That You Are Wrong About by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

{ 3 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: