Of all the things people are wrong about, our condemnation of error should top the list. It 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. And far from being a mark of indifference or intolerance, wrongness is a vital part of how students learn and change. Thanks to error, students can revise their understanding of themselves and amend their ideas about the world.
When asked by the New York Times what book she wished all Harvard freshmen would read, Drew Gilpin Faust, President of Harvard replied, “Kathryn Schulz’s Being Wrong advocates doubt as a skill and praises error as the foundation of wisdom. Her book would reinforce my encouragement of Harvard’s accomplished and successful freshmen to embrace risk and even failure.”
Freshman Common Read: Wellesley College, Washington State College