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Kathryn Schulz

  • A whole lot of us go through life assuming that we are basically right, basically all the time, about basically everything: about our political and intellectual convictions, our religious and moral beliefs, our assessments of other people, our memories, our grasp of facts. As absurd as it sounds when we stop to think about it, our steady state seems to be one of unconsciously assuming that we are very close to omniscient.

  • Of all the things we are wrong about, this idea of error might well 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.

  • ... wrongness always seems to come at us from left field — that is, from outside ourselves. But the reality could hardly be more different. Error is the ultimate inside job. Yes, the world can be profoundly confusing; and yes, other people can mislead or deceive you. In the end, though, nobody but you can choose to believe your own beliefs.

  • Error ... is less an intellectual problem than an existential one — a crisis not in what we know, but in who we are. We hear something of that identity crisis in the questions we ask ourselves in the aftemath of error: What was I thinking? How could I have done that?

Kathryn Schulz, U.S. journalist, writer