Accidental Theologist’s book of the moment (and possibly of the year): ‘Being Wrong‘ by Kathryn Schulz, who irresistibly claims the title of ‘wrongologist’ (a word that has to be right since Word insists, with its adamant wavy red underlining on my draft of this post, that it’s wrong).
The idea of error as bad, Schulz argues, “is our meta-mistake: we are wrong about what it means to be wrong. Far from being a sign of intellectual inferiority, the capacity to err is crucial to human cognition. Far from being a moral flaw, it is inextricable from some of our most humane and honorable qualities: empathy, optimism, imagination, conviction, and courage.”
Brava! Consider this book a brilliant stand against dogmatism. Schultz brings wit, depth and style to exploring the multiple ways we experience, deny, and occasionally (too occasionally) revel in being wrong, doing full justice to the epigraph at the front of the book, from Ben Franklin:
Perhaps the history of the errors of mankind, all things considered, is more valuable and interesting than that of their discoveries. Truth is uniform and narrow; it constantly exists, and does not seem to require so much an active energy, as a passive aptitude of the soul in order to encounter it. But error is endlessly diversified; it has no reality, but is the pure and simple creation of the mind that invents it. In this field the soul has room enough to expand herself, to display all her boundless faculties, and all her beautiful and interesting extravagancies and absurdities.
Be prepared: though beautifully and compellingly written, this is no page-turner, despite a Publishers Weekly review claiming it is. It’s a book to be savored, to be digested in bites rather than in a gulp. You need time to absorb everything Schultz is saying as she ranges through philosophy, psychology, science, and politics, showing that to err is indeed to be fully human — alternately blindly, creatively, pathetically, bumblingly, tragically, and courageously, but always fascinatingly.
One final quote, and then I’ll leave it to you to explore this wonderful book and, I hope, get back to me on it:
“To err is to wander [as in 'knight errant'], and wandering is the way we discover the world… Being right may be gratifying, but in the end it is static, a mere statement. Being wrong is hard and humbling, and sometimes even dangerous, but in the end it is a journey, and a story… To fuck up is to find adventure.”