Monday, April 6, 2020
Book Review: Being Wrong - Adventures in the Margin of Error by Kathryn Shulz
A while back I put out a piece on the blog that looked at occupations where being wrong is part of the job description.
And more recently I won an essay contest by explaining that I am an Idiot.
I love stories of the hapless fool - the Don Quixote's and Confederacy of Dunces of the world.
I picked up this book from a really good article series "Studying Studies" by a smart dude named Peter Attia. I may keep working through his reading list.
If you're the kind of person who loves droning about the nature of the universe at your favorite craft brewery, I know I am, this book is for you.
Shulz is a journalist. So you can expect stories that read like investigatory pieces. She accounts that range from amusing to catastrophic. Rather than offering color commentary on each vignette, Shulz actually does the opposite. The side stories are like little pictures that accompany a more metaphysical narrative about the essence of wrongness.
In many ways this is a philosophy text. It's dripping in references to Jung, Descartes, Socrates, Plato, Freud and more. And through the waxing philosophical, we can begin to get a little bit better of a picture of what wrongness actually is, why it matters to us, and how the hell we are supposed to deal with it.
That last point though is perhaps the crucial function of the book. While a touch loquacious, it is an appeal to treat 'being wrong' as something to run to instead of running from. It embraces the idea that this world is very much a mystery and we know so very little. It invites us to come to a place of acceptance with the wrongness that is in our own nature, and that is perhaps, paradoxically, key to our success.
To use her own words as she finishes her introduction to the text:
To fuck up is to find adventure: it is in that spirit that this book is written.
So grab a copy, take a tour, and let's chat over a pint!