Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error

Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error

by Kathryn Schulz
Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error

Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error

by Kathryn Schulz


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The bestselling history of and investigation into human error by beloved New Yorker writer Kathryn Schulz

“Both wise and clever, full of fun and surprise about a topic so central to our lives that we almost never even think about it.”
—Bill McKibben, author of Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

In the tradition of The Wisdom of Crowds and Predictably Irrational, Being Wrong explores what it means to be in error, and why homo sapiens tend to tacitly assume (or loudly insist) that they are right about most everything. Kathryn Schulz argues that error is the fundamental human condition and should be celebrated as such. Guiding the reader through the history and psychology of error, from Socrates to Alan Greenspan, Being Wrong will change the way you perceive screw-ups, both of the mammoth and daily variety, forever.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061176050
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: 01/04/2011
Pages: 405
Sales rank: 387,950
Product dimensions: 7.92(w) x 5.38(h) x 1.02(d)

About the Author

About The Author
Kathryn Schulz is a journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, Foreign Policy, the Nation, the Boston Globe, and the "Freakonomics" blog of the New York Times. She lives in New York's Hudson Valley.

Table of Contents

Part I The Idea of Error

1 Wrongology 3

2 Two Models of Wrongness 25

Part II The Origins of Error

3 Our Senses 47

4 Our Minds, Part One: Knowing, Not Knowing, and Making It Up 67

5 Our Minds, Part Two: Belief 87

6 Our Minds, Part Three: Evidence 111

7 Our Society 133

8 The Allure of Certainty 159

Part III The Experience of Error

9 Being Wrong 183

10 How Wrong? 201

11 Denial and Acceptance 220

12 Heartbreak 247

13 Transformation 273

Part IV Embracing Error

14 The Paradox of Error 299

15 The Optimistic Meta-Induction from the History of Everything 320

Acknowledgments 341

Notes 345

Index 393

What People are Saying About This

Tom Vanderbilt

“Kathryn Schulz’s brilliant, spirited, and necessary inquiry into the essential humanity of error will leave you feeling intoxicatingly wrongheaded.”

Dwight Garner

“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.”

Steven Johnson

“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!”

Harold S. Kushner

“An amazing book. . . . I don’t know when I last read a book as stimulating, as thoughtful, and as much fun to read.”

Frans Johansson

“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.”

Bill McKibben

“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.”

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