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

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Date and time
Friday, June 18, 2010

Journalist and "wrongologist" Kathryn Schulz holds a conversation about mistakes (and admitting them), and her new book, *Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error*. To err is human. Yet most of us go through life assuming (and sometimes insisting) that we are right about nearly everything, from the origins of the universe to how to load the dishwasher. If being wrong is so natural, why are we all so bad at imagining that our beliefs could be mistaken, and why do we react to our errors with surprise, denial, defensiveness, and shame? In *Being Wrong*, Kathryn Schulz explores why we find it so gratifying to be right and so maddening to be mistaken, and how this attitude toward error corrodes relationships--whether between family members, colleagues, neighbors, or nations. Along the way, she takes us on a tour of human fallibility, from wrongful convictions to no-fault divorce; medical mistakes to misadventures at sea; failed prophecies to false memories; "I told you so!" to "Mistakes were made." In the end, *Being Wrong* is not just an account of human error but a tribute to human creativity--the way we generate and revise our beliefs about ourselves and the world. At a moment when economic, political, and religious dogmatism increasingly divide us, Schulz explores the seduction of certainty and the crises occasioned by error.

Kathryn Schulz has written for *The Nation*, *Rolling Stone*, and the *New York Times Magazine*, among other publications. A former editor of the online environmental magazine *Grist* and the *Santiago Times* in Chile, she was awarded a Pew Fellowship in International Journalism in 2004. She lives in New York.