Wrongology – Admit and Embrace Fallibility

Wrongology – the study of what is ‘not right’ – not in conformity with fact or truth, not required, not intended, not fitting, not suitable, not appropriate; deliberately misleading.

I made this definition up for a word that is not in the dictionary. There is, however, an interesting TED talk by “Wrongologist” Kathryn Schulz who explains why we should admit and embrace our fallibility. (She also wrote a book: Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error.)

Kathyrn points out that the state of being wrong often feels exactly the same as being right. We feel good, (though we are puzzled as to why others don’t agree with us). We don’t attempt to understand why others disagree because if we are wrong, we won’t feel so good.

It is incredibly easy to be wrong in the age of biased mass media. I read a report last week that criticized our Canadian Prime Minister’s fiscal priorities  when he responded  to a disabled veteran at a Town Hall Meeting:

“I was prepared to be killed in action,” said Brock Blaszczyk, a former corporal who lost his left leg to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. “What I wasn’t prepared for, Mr. Prime Minister, is Canada turning its back on me.”

Prime Minister Trudeau responded: “Why are we still fighting against certain veteran’s groups in court? Because they are asking for more than we are able to give right now.”

This report supported my previous opinions of the ‘virtue signalling’ fiscal choices of the Trudeau government. However, when I looked at less biased, more complete reports of this confrontation, Trudeau went on to say: “And what I know from veterans I’ve spoken to is nobody wants after having served their country with valour and honour and sacrifice to have their government say: Here’s your cheque. Now don’t bother us anymore.” The prime minister then defended the new system of providing compensation and support to veterans, which includes money for rehabilitation, job-training and caregiver support.

Two news reports, both right, but one that was kind of wrong (or misleading). I would have been wrong to believe the report that supported my bias, because there was more to the story.

Everyone and everything has flaws, and we’ll all make mistakes in life. If we learn to accept this, while also acknowledging the value of failure, we might finally become comfortable with uttering those three simplistic, yet complicated words: “I was wrong.”
– John Haltiwanger, Science Of Strength: Why Successful People Admit When They’re Wrong, Elite Daily, Feb 17 2015 –

The QuipperyI’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been totally wrong, partially wrong, or right but wrong. It is part of the journey of learning. What I learned about the Trudeau government’s approach to veterans doesn’t mean I would vote for him, but it makes me more cautious of the media I think is ‘right’.

When was the last time or most important time you said “I was wrong”?

14 thoughts on “Wrongology – Admit and Embrace Fallibility

  1. Admitting you are wrong, openly and unreservedly, is probably one of the hardest things a person can do. It’s usually because we believe that – whatever we did or said – we were justified in saying or doing it at the time. An admission of wrong-doing is (IMO) almost always accompanied with a ‘but’ or a ‘however’ – attempts to qualify the mistake as an honest one. Its much easier to say you are wrong when its something fairly insignificant than an issue of major importance. I like to think I admit I’m wrong when I am, but I couldn’t pinpoint the last time I said it.


    • I see what you mean, Margo. Just because something is true, doesn’t mean everyone will agree on what the truth means. For example, we can agree that the Climate is Changing, we can agree that mankind has had an affect on it, but there are many opposing truths when it comes to what should or should not be done!


  2. A “but” or a “however” negates everything that was said before the “but”. To say “but”, means that you don’t really think you were wrong if you have to qualify the admission. Sometimes, all the other person wants to hear is, “I’m sorry. I was wrong.” No qualifying the apology or the admission. And it goes a long way towards soothing hurt feelings. And really, it’s not so hard to say.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ‘But’ or ‘however’ could be the most you will get from some folks! For some people, saying they are wrong threatens their identity and self-esteem. They may be willing to sacrifice the other persons emotions in order to protect their own emotional well being. An unequivocal “I’m sorry” may in fact be how they feel, but it might not be what they can say.


  3. Years ago a guy named Paul Harvey had a radio show called, “the Rest of the Story”. He pointed out that there is usually more to a story than gets told. It is hard to be wise and discerning but I really do need to practice asking for all the facts and facets of things before I make a judgement. Too often I judge before knowing those details! And yes….it is really hard to admit being wrong….at least for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great reflection, Margy, thanks. I agree with Cheryl about a “but” effectively undermining (and negating) an “apology.” Better not to apologize than go that route. I also hate the modern-day boilerplate “I apologize if I’ve hurt anyone, etc.” The “if” cancels out said apology, and, IMHO, makes things ten times worse. I’m not sorry I read this fine blog post– I refuse to apologize!! : )

    Liked by 1 person

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