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Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error
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Format: Hardcover, 416pp.
Pub. Date: June 8, 2010
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Item No: 9780061176043
Description and Reviews
From The Publisher:
To err is human. Yet most of us go through life assuming (and sometimes insisting) that we are right about nearly everything, from the origins of the universe to how to load the dishwasher. If being wrong is so natural, why are we all so bad at imagining that our beliefs could be mistaken, and why do we react to our errors with surprise, denial, defensiveness, and shame?
In Being Wrong, journalist Kathryn Schulz explores why we find it so gratifying to be right and so maddening to be mistaken, and how this attitude toward error corrodes relationships—whether between family members, colleagues, neighbors, or nations. Along the way, she takes us on a fascinating tour of human fallibility, from wrongful convictions to no-fault divorce; medical mistakes to misadventures at sea; failed prophecies to false memories; "I told you so!" to "Mistakes were made." Drawing on thinkers as varied as Augustine, Darwin, Freud, Gertrude Stein, Alan Greenspan, and Groucho Marx, she 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.
In the end, Being Wrong is not just an account of human error but a tribute to human creativity—the way we generate and revise our beliefs about ourselves and the world. At a moment when economic, political, and religious dogmatism increasingly divide us, Schulz explores with uncommon humor and eloquence the seduction of certainty and the crises occasioned by error. A brilliant debut from a new voice in nonfiction, this book calls on us to ask one of life's most challenging questions: what if I'm wrong?
“Kathryn Schulz has given us a brilliant and remarkably upbeat account of the long history of human error. If Being Wrong is this smart and illuminating, I don’t want to be right!”
—Steven Johnson, bestselling author of THE GHOST MAP and EVERYTHING BAD IS GOOD FOR YOU
“Kathryn Schultz is engaging, witty and fascinating as she uses a full arsenal of academic research, colorful stories, philosophical arguments and personal anecdotes to create a riveting account of why we, mostly, have been wrong about being wrong.”
—Frans Johansson, author of THE MEDICI EFFECT
“Kathryn Schulz’s brilliant, spirited, and necessary inquiry into the essential humanity of error will leave you feeling intoxicatingly wrongheaded.”
—Tom Vanderbilt, bestselling author of TRAFFIC
“So, please take this advice: Read BEING WRONG, because it’s the right thing to do.”
“A funny and philosophical meditation on why error is mostly a humane, courageous and extremely desirable human trait. [Schulz] flies high in the intellectual skies, leaving beautiful sunlit contrails....It’s lovely to watch this idea warm in Ms. Schulz’s hands.”
—Dwight Garner, New York Times
“Engrossing.... In the spirit of Blink and Predictably Irrational (but with a large helping of erudition)... Schulz writes with such lucidity and wit that her philosophical enquiry becomes a page-turner.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Both wise and clever, full of fun and surprise...[BEING WRONG] could also be enormously useful—there are very few problems we face...that couldn’t be helpfully addressed if we we were willing to at least entertain the idea that we might not be entirely right.”
—Bill McKibben, author of EAARTH: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
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About the Author
Kathryn Schulz is a journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, the Nation, Foreign Policy, and the Huffington Post, among other publications. She is the former editor of the online 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 and has reported from throughout Central and South America, Japan, and, most recently, the Middle East. A former Ohioan, Oregonian, and Brooklynite, she currently lives in New York's Hudson Valley.
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