“When a man speaks in the forest, and there is no woman there to hear him, is he still wrong?” Apparently, the answer is most certainly, yes. We held a vote on the subject at home, and the result was resounding. Consequently, I take comfort in Kathryn Schultz book, Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error.
This is a popular book. It gets rave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads and most formal reviewers offer favourable comments too. However, I have to wonder if that’s not simply a result of Schultz not addressing any particular social or political issue. Rather, she leaves it to the individual reader to assess their own flawed thinking. And I rather like that plan. It seems Jesus followed a similar principle; in his early ministry at least.
Schultz thesis is rather simple; no one holds a full sense of the truth about anything, and, because that’s the case, we ought to be cautious in how we understand ourselves, view others and handle disagreement. I guess she is calling everyone to some degree of intellectual humility – no matter how many letters there are behind my name. As an example, my own children listen to all my pearls of wisdom with a degree of scepticism; scepticism fanned into flame by their mother. Some time ago I had to write my qualifications on an academic bio, it went like this: The Very Reverend Digby Wilkinson, Bth(Hons), BSocSci(Hons), MA(Hons). Unbeknownst to me, one of the little toe-rags added, Dip.Stk(Hons) at the end. It was published. My humility is complete.
The book bought to mind a number of other books I have looked at along the way. Brene Browns call to Vulnerability. Erin Meyers, The Culture Map. Michael Polanyi’s concept of Provisional Truth. The split of the East and West Church in the 10th Century over the Nicene Creed and the two different views of the world – mystic vs mechanistic. And of course, Francis Bacon’s scientific enquiry based on categorisation as the premise of ‘certainty’, and its later adoption by theologians resulting in last centuries dogmatic and systematic theologies.
I enjoyed the two models of wrongness:
- Being wrong without acknowledging it (fear)
- The realisation of being wrong after the fact (embarrassment)
Both are emotionally different
I liked Schultz’ 3 stages of perception progression. Those we disagree with are either:
- Merely Ignorant
- True Idiots
- Totally Evil
Being guilty of all the above, but not as bad as everyone else (Self-righteous justification with a tinge of reflective self-awareness), can I be bothered changing? I hope so. Not because I want to be a better person, but I would like to be free of the constant competition to be more correct than everyone else. Like Michael Polanyi once wrote, ‘If all truth is God’s truth, then our truth can only ever be provisional”. 
 Kathryn Schulz, Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error (London: Portabelo Books, 2011).
 Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, Kindle ed. (London: Penguin, 2013-01-17).
 Erin Meyer, The Culture Map: Decoding How People Think, Lead, and Get Things Done Across Cultures, Kindle ed. (New York: PublicAffairs, 2016).
 Stefania Jha, “Michael Polanyi’s Integrative Philosophy” (Doctor of Education, Harvard University, 1995).
 Amy Chua, “Tribal World : Group Identity is All,” Foreign Affairs, 2018, Accessed 30 November, 2018. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2018-06-14/tribal-world?fa_anthology=1122622.
 Schulz, Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error. 25f
 Michael Polanyi, Personal Knowledge (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958), p. 299.
Brown, Brené. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. Kindle ed. London: Penguin, 2013.
Chua, Amy. “Tribal World : Group Identity is All.” Foreign Affairs, Last modified July 2018, Accessed 30 November, 2018. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2018-06-14/tribal-world?fa_anthology=1122622.
Jha, Stefania. “Michael Polanyi’s Integrative Philosophy.” Doctor of Education, Harvard University, 1995.
Meyer, Erin. The Culture Map: Decoding How People Think, Lead, and Get Things Done Across Cultures. Kindle ed. New York: PublicAffairs, 2016.
Michael Polanyi, Personal Knowledge. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958.
Schulz, Kathryn. Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error. London: Portabelo Books, 2011.