Field of Science

Say you're wrong

Let me start by sharing just how much of an opinionated bastard I am. I was conceived out of wedlock, so I am truly a bastard. I treasure that fact on a weekly basis. But other than that, I am not really much of a bastard. I'm a nice enough guy, and if you think not being a scoundrel disqualifies me, pass along. As for opinionated, I was once called that because once no one could decide where to go for lunch, and that quickly drove me nuts and I plainly said where I felt like going.

But I really wasn't one. I am not arrogant, dogmatic, nor bigoted. Okay, maybe a little arrogant, because I do think this world if chuck full of very stupid people, and I just said it. The far biggest majority of people are definitely among the 90 percent dumbest, or something. But, crucially, not dogmatic or bigoted, because those terms imply an unwillingness to listen to the evidence to the contrary, and that the biggest sin of all, in my opinionated opinion.

I don't have the data, I readily admit it, but I believe - undogmatically - that a whole lot of what is wrong with this human world, is that humans are supremely reluctant, even fearful, of admitting that they are wrong. Like the stereotypical Italian, who'd sooner give you the wrong direction rather than admitting not knowing the right one, humans will go to great lengths to save face. Whole nations build foreign policies on that fear, risking sanction and war to save face. Also on a personal level can it lead to much discomfort, for example when you end up in Firenze when you were going to Parma. And perhaps to the person saving face, too? The thing is, I wouldn't know, because I have honestly not really ever tried it, I think. If anyone who knows me can tell me a time that I did, I'd dedicate a blog-post in your honor (don't care much for honor either, though), or not, if that's preferred. Because I'd like to know when I'm wrong.

Which brings me to the point I wanted to make: do everything you possibly can to realize when you're wrong. And when you are, say it out loud, even if in private, so that you may acknowledge yourself that you were wrong, but now know better. In science, admitting when you're wrong is absolutely crucial, and can bring quite a lot of joy, since the pursuit of knowledge is only aided by realizing you were wrong (and the scientists who can't admit to themselves that they were wrong are the real losers - unless they happen to always be right, but I've never heard of no apple-box). But outside of science it is also a really good idea. Again, the benefits to everyone around the person admitting their mistake should be obvious, but I think (prove me wrong) that it is generally unhealthy going around being wrong. Not only may you lose out in tangible ways, but I suspect (pmw) that people who can't admit to themselves when they're wrong suffers emotionally, because deep down they probably know, at least part of the time, that they chuck full of bs. Unless they're one of the 90 percent that I mentioned earlier, in which case they may never know any better. This post was not for them.

So, say you're wrong at least once a day. Don't mock yourself, 'cause being wrong is a respectable business. Just be honest, and remember being wrong can happen to anyone. Does happen to everyone. Being wrong is the path to being right, which is great, too. Makes for better pies, which no one can object to. And I really wanted to go to Parma.

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