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Why are we afraid to make mistakes?

I recently saw this article and found the following paragraph: "In science, you make your mistakes in public. You show them off so that everybody can learn from them. This way, you get the benefit of everybody else's experience, and not just your own idiosyncratic path through the space of mistakes."


While i'm not sure that all scientists share their mistakes so that others can learn form them, i was wondering why we're afraid to make mistakes at work, for instance? Is it because we are told that mistakes are not tolerated? Could it be our education, from our family and school, that mistakes should be avoided at all cost or hidden when they happen?

Topics: failure mistakes

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    May 29 2013: You might enjoy the perspective in Kathryn Shiultz's TED talk on being wrong.
    • W T 100+

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      May 30 2013: Aha!! I am reading her book at this very moment....and I will offer this answer to the question above:

      We are afraid to make mistakes, because we want to be right. We do not want to be wrong.

      The simplest answer is usually the best.
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        May 30 2013: I have the book too in my bookshelf. Looks like I should read it through...
        • W T 100+

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          May 30 2013: Hello Tomoshige....yes, definitely read it.

          I just listened to her talk again right now....to get the sound of her voice in my head so I can read the book with more meaning.

          It is very well written, and has alot of real life experiences.

          Let me know how you like it.

          Be Well,
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        May 31 2013: so we're not afraid of some kind of punishment, either direct (getting fired) or indirect (feeling excluded)?
        • W T 100+

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          May 31 2013: Well, QF, I'm sure that some individuals might be afraid of making mistakes because of the repercussions..........when speaking strictly about mistakes in the workplace.

          I would imagine that also a feeling of embarassment would add to the fear of making a mistake, not to mention that in some jobs you could cause the death of someone by your mistake (policemen, doctors or firemen come to mind).

          ..but there are just so many many mistakes that we can make as humans, and so I personally think it goes beyond this fear of punishment.

          I think that like some have brought out on here, early intervention in helping children deal with mistakes, might help the future work force.

          There is also something I read recently about how some people go through life without thinking that they will make a mistake.......WAIT....I just remembered......it's a TED video.

          Here is the link:

          Tali Sharot: The optimism bias

          Have you seen this talk? It is about people who go through life thinking that they will not make a mistake.

          Perhaps this will further you along in your quest for answers.
          And if you have access to a public library....then by all means check out the book by Schulz on Being Wrong. It is a great read.

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