By Amy Willis
Journalist Kathryn Schulz, in Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error, describes how very uncomfortable, and indeed how very difficult it is for we humans to be wrong. (You can watch Schulz’ TED talk on being wrong here.) Indeed, she argues, we revel in being right. Further, we generally associate being wrong with being ignorant, indolent, morally degenerate, etc. But, says Schulz, we make a “meta-mistake;” we are wrong about being wrong. She writes, “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.” Why, them is admitting we were wrong so hard?
A remarkable part of this week’s EconTalk episode was when one such moment came to light. Tina Rosenberg described how, over the course of her research on the Iranian kidney market, she changed her mind. Prior to this project, she says she held two assumptions that she no longer holds. She says, “And one of them is that paying donors is necessarily exploitative. And the second one is: There are serious moral and ethical reasons not to pay donors. I no longer believe either of those things.” Our hats are off to Rosenberg; such an admission takes courage.
But what we’re interested here are examples from your own experience. Have you ever experienced a change in a belief you held very strongly? What was it? And more importantly, what precipitated the change? We’d like to hear about your experience. It could become a future EconTalk Extra, or perhaps even part of an episode. Please share your story with us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org by noon EST on Monday, September 28. Thanks in advance, and we look forward to hearing from you.