[LINK, TED video] Kathryn Schulz on Being Wrong

by bogus1 min read4th May 20114 comments


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Kathryn Schulz is a self-identified "Wrongologist" (in fact, @wrongologist is her user name on Twitter).  She has written a popular book ("Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error", web site) and also writes the Slate column 'The Wrong Stuff'.  Her TED talk covers the problem of disagreement, the nature of belief, overconfidence bias and how to actually change your mind.  She maintains that most folks actively avoid the unpleasant feeling of "being wrong", which is an important point I have not seen before (but see The Importance of Saying 'Oops' and Crisis of Faith).  Unfortunately, she does not discuss reasoning about uncertainty, so her arguments against 'the feeling of right' end up seeming rather shallow.

Discuss her TED talk here. (Her broader work is also obviously on topic.)

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I saw this talk not too long ago on their podcast and it got me quite excited. Most Ted talks I find enjoyable but I'm not such a fan of their drive for diversity for the sake of diversity. (You can get some pretty bizzare types) but this one in particular was exciting because she made something as fundamental to rationality as this interesting and highly accesible; essentially creating another gateway for the masses.

This is the type of thing that Less Wrong needs to get behind if we want the rationality movement to go forward. both depth and breadth are required.

The book On Being Certain goes into depth on the 'feeling of right'.

Does Being Wrong give any new useful techniques for how to actually change your mind?

Does Being Wrong give any new useful techniques for how to actually change your mind?

Doesn't look like it does--her work falls somewhat short from that POV. Like many other popular books, Being Wrong is written in a way that pays relatively little attention to its main thesis, and mostly takes it as an opportunity to list entertaining anecdotes and offer witty asides. Nevertheless, it may have potential in raising awareness about basic rationality among the general public.

I've been reading through Being Wrong, actually. It is shallow but fairly well-written and presents ideas fairly effectively. On the other hand, I wonder how many LWers really need a gentle introduction to philosophy of science and Quinean indeterminacy, which is about as challenging as it's gotten so far?