Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Why we’re wrong about nearly everything, everywhere, all at once

Written by: on March 20, 2023

“I hope this book will show you what a varied and extraordinary place the world really is” [1]

Some families are sports families. Some are music families. Others are into animals, or the outdoors, or food.

The Clarks are film people.

Movies are something we all love, so every year my family settles into our comfy couch to watch the nearly 4-hour self-congratulatory self-important overwrought celebration called the Oscars (ask me how I REALLY feel about it).

This year a truckload of Oscars, including the prestigious best director and best picture awards, were given to the film “Everything Everywhere All At Once”. And if you ask me how I really feel about that, I’d tell you it was a bloated, unfocused, hard to follow hot mess of a movie that had some great acting but a preachy message about… well, I’m not actually sure what it was about (maybe about being kind?).

It had no business being up for best anything.

But according to a robust scientific study I conducted my opinion was wrong. (My study included personally interviewing 7 other people I know who watched the movie, the 95% Rotten Tomatoes score, and the fact that it did, indeed, win almost every category it was nominated for in multiple awards shows.)

I still don’t love the movie, but now I’m starting to question myself: Was it a great film? How could I be right and 95% of critics be wrong?

In the book Why We’re Wrong About Nearly Everything, Bobby Duffy helps me approach the beginning of an answer. He describes how our minds and hearts, as well as outside influences, can deceive us; he encourages us to be aware of our own cognitive and emotional biases, and he challenges us to approach new—and old—information we come across with a healthy measure of suspicion, not just of the sources of the information but of our ourselves. Maybe Everything Everywhere All At Once was a great movie; maybe, as Duffy writes, my “emotional response influence[d] [my] perception of reality[2].”

This book was a companion to Thinking Fast and Slow[3] in many ways, such as where both authors pointed out deficiencies in how we misuse or misunderstand data to form opinions and make decisions. Why We’re Wrong About Nearly Everything also made me think about How To Read Numbers[4] as it reminded me that we don’t read or analyze statistics as well as we think we do, and it also suggested Threshold Concepts[5] because it prompted me to appreciate the fact that there is so much that still requires my crossing a threshold barrier to grasp.

In fact, I’m starting to think that one of the key takeaways for this semester might be about accepting just how wrong we can be. And I can readily accept that. Because I am wrong. A lot. (Just ask my kids.)

However, if we’re nearly always wrong, that means we’re not always wrong. Sometimes we’re right. But if wrong is such a ubiquitous condition, how do we determine when we are wrong, when others are wrong, or when everyone, everywhere is wrong, all at once?  And the corollary: If someone (or everyone) can be wrong, then there must somewhere be a right.

Duffy’s answer to this question of “how can we determine who is right?”, seems to come down to better data analysis and keener awareness of our own biases. His contention seems to be that “the spread of misinformation (accidental or deliberate) can be reduced, if not halted, through rational effort.”[6]

That’s a nice thought, but halted? I’m not so sure that’s true.

In a rapidly changing world where there is more data generated every day than could possibly be rationally analyzed by one person in a lifetime[7], and in a post-modern culture that often dismisses the idea of truth, how do we blend the data that is relevant with the conclusions that are true?

And I’m not just talking about relatively unimportant subjective opinions like which film should have won best picture, but about eternally important objective matters like whether the claims of Christ are true.

Perhaps one of the lessons of this book (as well as those other books I mentioned, above) has been to call us to hold very loosely to everything that isn’t rock solid essential to our faith—even those things we have rock solid opinions about. Or, as the 17th century theologian Rupertus Meldenius said, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials, liberty, and in all things, charity”[8].

The world is indeed, as Duffy writes, “a varied and extraordinary place”[9]. Part of that is because we have a diversity of viewpoints and backgrounds, we analyze and interpret facts differently, and yes, we enjoy different movies. We should embrace and celebrate that. Getting a sense of what is truth, what is open to interpretation, and what exists in a shade of grey in-between may be a good place to start.

So, here’s my all-important question: Am I wrong about Everything Everywhere All At Once, or is everybody else mistaken?


[1] Bobby Duffy, Why We’re Wrong About Nearly Everything (New York: Basic Books, 2018), 22.

[2] Ibid., 20

[3] Daniel Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2011).

[4] Tom Chivers, How To Read Numbers: A Guide to Statistics in the News, (Orion Publishing Group, 2021)

[5] Jan Meyer and Ray Land, Overcoming Barriers to Student Understanding: Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge (New York: Routledge, 2006)

[6] https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2019/11/01/review-bobby-duffy-why-were-wrong-about-nearly-everything-theory-human

[7] https://www.ciobulletin.com/big-data/how-much-data-is-created-every-day-and-how-to-collect-it

[8] https://faculty.georgetown.edu/jod/augustine/quote.html

[9] Duffy, Why We’re Wrong About Nearly Everything, 22.

About the Author


Tim Clark

I'm on a lifelong journey of discovering the person God has created me to be and aligning that with the purpose God has created me for. I've been pressing hard after Jesus for 40 years, and I currently serve Him as the lead pastor of vision and voice at The Church On The Way in Los Angeles. I live with my wife and 3 kids in Burbank California.

7 responses to “Why we’re wrong about nearly everything, everywhere, all at once”

  1. mm John Fehlen says:

    A light bulb switched on for me when you said, “In fact, I’m starting to think that one of the key takeaways for this semester might be about accepting just how wrong we can be. And I can readily accept that. Because I am wrong. A lot.”

    This is an important concept to hold onto and be reminded of in preparing our Syntopical Essays.

    A question: other than the Oscar darling movie, can you specifically expound on a time in which you realized you were wrong?

    A statement: your post, the tie in with the Oscars, Everything movie, etc. was simply brilliant. What a timely and engaging post Tim.

    • mm Tim Clark says:

      John, so many things I’ve been wrong about. To answer your question, I can go very recent, and pedantic when Thursday I was driving some team members to a restaurant and took the street I thought it was on (but it wasn’t) and had to backtrack.

      Slightly more dated but much more important was recently green lighting a large purchase for the church based on System 1 thinking and later realizing I should have said no so having to ‘eat’ the money and start over.

      In between those two is when last week I realized I had put the wrong due dates for the topic expert research paper in my calendar, so have had to totally rearrange my schedule because of that.

      I could keep going….

      Seems there is no end to the things I can get wrong.

  2. Jennifer Vernam says:

    “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.

    Is it too naive to say that we can reshape the narrative of our wrongness? What could be some of the benefits of this discovery? I offer the verse above because of some volunteer work I do with a Christian non-profit focused on team building, and the presupposition of this group is: WE NEED EACH OTHER. They would say that a big part of our living out of the kingdom is not being self-sufficient. So, when we stop thinking we have all the answers, and we start relying on Christ’s guidance, AND the collective wisdom of our fellowship of believers… is there strength in that?

    Challenge the thought, PLEASE!

    • mm Tim Clark says:

      That thought is really hard to challenge because it resonates so deeply within me (though I understand the request: I think I write half my blog posts here hoping that someone will call BS on something I said and help me think better about what i’m engaging).

      I love the idea that God works in my weaknesses, but I’ve never considered how that can extend to wrongness. Friedman mentions that the ability to admit we are wrong is part of what shows a non-anxious presence. I think to be a non-anxious leader who is ok with being wrong (and ok with being corrected) and keeping our eyes on Jesus and on our community in our wrongness is a fascinating ideal.

  3. Cathy Glei says:

    Thank you for pointing out the “nearly” and “always” wrong perspective. I understand the process of training us to consider how we make decisions and the biases that we have for informing those decisions to be able to honor God in our leadership.

    • mm Tim Clark says:

      Cathy, thanks for the comment. This is a semester that is shaping us, isn’t it? While we are not always wrong, considering how we can be wrong, how we can hold onto biases, how we make decisions….it’s a lot to take in (for me at least).

  4. Kally Elliott says:

    We are not a film family.

    We are a sports family. Sort of.
    We are a gym family. Some of us.
    We are a hiking family. Okay, that just me and my dog.
    I know! We are an eating family! We all love to eat!

    But really, now you have me thinking that our family needs something better to rally around!

    That said, I appreciate your reflection on the importance of holding loosely to non-essential opinions and embracing diversity of viewpoints, while also striving to identify what is essential and true. As you mentioned, in a world where data and opinions are constantly changing and evolving, it is crucial to approach new information with a healthy dose of skepticism and critical thinking.

    Overall, I think your post highlights the importance of humility and intellectual curiosity in our pursuit of truth, and the need for ongoing self-reflection and examination of our own biases and assumptions. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and insights.

    Now to figure out what kind of family we really are!

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