Brennon Strnad

Madison Community Cooperative

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Stigmatizing being wrong: right or wrong?

Kathryn Schulz proposes we shouldn't be afraid of being wrong. Hype about the Harold Camping apocalypse has got me thinking. I found Schulz's message inspiring but I am also thankful for all those poking fun at Camping for being wrong. I can't imagine patting Camping on the back for trying. But isn't this the kind of bold commitment Schulz proposes? I wonder if stigmatizing others for being wrong, even when it may be deserved, is poor practice if you believe fear of failure inhibits valuable action.

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    May 23 2011: I think Schultz points out some understressed things in culture:

    - that mistakes are intollerable...
    - that we think we are right (even if we aren't)...

    So allowing for mistakes, embracing the trial and error method, and acknowledging our own (relative) ignorance are to be embraced.

    I don't think she wants us to go so far as to say that everything is relative, or that there is no 'right'...

    So her book and speech might make us a bit more skeptical and more aware of our cognitive biases...

    By knowing how wrong you are about something, you will also find out what is right (hence the learning process).

    But wrong stays wrong: so let's help each other and point to each other's faults, as we can't see our own.
    If we manage to do this in a gentle way, and if we are open for such feedback, we can all learn and improve...

    We are all born with a lot of ignorance, so it's logical we make mistakes

    Being wrong is not bad, not wanting to learn from (when pointed out you might be wrong) it is...
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    May 23 2011: There is nothing wrong to be wrong if someone learns from it.

    Well with word STIGMA used here has got some stigma really. Out of a number meaning the sense it is being used is as below

    "a symbol of disgrace or infamy" according Webster's Dictionaary

    In a way it is being used for something went wrong to someone on which that someone had no control but being blamed for that.

    So I think need to think to replace the word in the premise for a wider diuscussion.
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    May 23 2011: Hi Brennon!
    I think that the issue distils down to the way, we as members of society not only want to abdicate our role in the decision making but in the decision all together. As long as someone else makes the descision we do not like -even if we know it is between many viable options- none good- we can then cast blame for it not being 'right'. This is hardly productive but as time has gone on we have just accepted this system. We then, have to be 'right' every time because we know that condemnation and blame are likely to follow like some great X on our essay of life.
    It won't be until we begin to make decsions quite colaborately thus speading the responsibilty and the glory that this will change. In our very northern territories of Canada, government with Aboriginal leadership is done differently. Although I do not know much about it - they govern by consensus and it appears to me to be a hopeful system for the future.
  • May 23 2011: Being "right" is everything. In a life or death situation, being right means you live and get to go home to your family and make more babies. Being wrong means you are dead.

    Just because a person survives being wrong does not make it good. It just means the person gets another chance to be right.

    People should not be afraid to take risks regardless of the chance to be wrong. Perhaps that was part of the intention for the speech by Kathryn Schulz.

    Harold Camping was not wrong. He was exploiting the idiocy of people allowing him to make money thus his "prediction" was not required to be "right." Either way he would win and right or wrong, in this case, did not matter.
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      May 24 2011: Bob.........................I agree that he was exploiting people who can be led like sheep. Just my opinion of course. But he did not suffer any great damage and I doubt he cares what other people think.
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    May 23 2011: Hi Brennon,

    You bring up a good point. There is something wrong with being wrong. Sometimes it's relatively benign, like Camping. Sometimes it's not, like Matthias Rath. These people either know they are wrong, and are thus attempting some sort of scam, or they are so certain that they are right that they can't admit they are wrong. There is a stigma attached to these, but not because the person was wrong. It's because they're jerks or dangerously neurotic. But I don't think that there should be a stigma about being wrong. We should encourage people to reveal their ignorance so as to learn the truth. People should ask questions and get good answers, and they should make guesses when they don't know for sure and revel in their mistakes. So long as the goal of all this failure is to one day be correct, so long as the person learns from those mistakes, then there is nothing wrong with being wrong.