TED Conversations

Linda Hesthag  Ellwein

Communications, Change, and Photography, Oikonomia, Inc.


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Have you believed something - or the idea of something - and discovered you were mistaken, or wrong? What's your story & what did you learn?

Our world view often conjures up ideas or beliefs that seem to 'fit' within it. We often cluster beliefs with ideas or behaviors that 'sound' right to us. Every now and then, the ideas we hold are simply wrong, or at least need to be questioned. I'd like to hear examples of paradigm shifts that changed your world view or point of view. When have you been mistaken?

These experiences, or paradigm shifts, often surface through cultural beliefs, politics, in beliefs relating to sustainability and environmental preservation, or human behavior/relationships - but are certainly not limited to these. What have you assumed to be true or right, and suddenly found yourself doubting your certainty?


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    Aug 29 2011: Yes!

    everything we currently know should be open to question, the ability to rewire ourselves with new information is what keeps us going. Holding onto the past information is what slows down evolution (maybe nature made us like that for our own protection). I think the paradigm shifts start with one person who understands how to rewire and rethink knowledge and realise it was probably wrong. Searching in this area then we find greatness and new ideas and goals. I am sure this is how progress happens, but the poor person has to persuade others to look, really look and that's harder as there are more of us.

    This is where peer review and establishment can actually do 2 great things
    1: weed out irrational and unfounded ideas
    2: Provide solid incremental improvements in state of art.

    This is where peer review harms us and increasingly so by
    1: No allowing changes to the current info base that are radical (so many people trained in the old wring way)
    2: Ensuring only incremental change happens (no heads above a parapet either).

    So in life we do not accept we are wrong much, but worse still it's become an institutionalised matter now and has the backing of large organisations, maybe natures brake on progress for our sakes, or perhaps we are just wrong in trying to compartmentalise information and maybe the people already invested in training the old ways, simply want to stay as they are and not change.

    Bottom line, until we embrace being mistaken and embrace change then we will evolve slower.

    Great question.
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      Sep 2 2011: Yes, David. Seems to me embracing being wrong is a freeing and exciting venture! Imagine if it was how we approached our life and work, assuming we're wrong. In my experience, it allows us to monitor and pay attention instead of making the assumption we're right. We become more vigilant in our decision making, in my opinion; and more involved in the journey.

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