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Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error: The Meaning of Error in an Age of Certainty Paperback – 2 Jun 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Portobello Books Ltd; New edition edition (2 Jun. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184627074X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846270741
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 207,994 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"Schulz possesses playfulness even as she brings the reader to tears... "Being Wrong" has a heartbeat."--Huffington Post

About the Author

KATHRYN SCHULZ has written for a number of US publications from Rolling Stone to the New York Times, on subjects as varied as right-wing film festivals to the impact of antidepressant use on Japanese culture. In 2004 she was awarded a Pew Fellowship in International Journalism. www.beingwrongbook.com

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By S. Day VINE VOICE on 8 Nov. 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. Kathryn Schulz's style is very clear and involving, often humorous and never patronising; it was a page-turner. Her assertions are well supported, illustrated with examples, and the text is littered with footnotes and endnotes, providing interesting asides, citing research studies and referencing the classics for further reading.

What struck me was how 'being wrong' encompasses all human experience: religion, love, science, crime, comedy, navigation, mental illness, art... As sure as we can believe and experience anything, we can be wrong about it (apart from whether we exist at all--we can't be wrong about that).

Whilst the book takes as its theme that we are all fallible, it explores the 'optimistic' view of this trait, and the role it plays in those things which make us human. It would cheapen this book to class it as 'self-help', but if you've ever made a mistake and felt a bit bad about yourself, you'll find the arguments within of great benefit.

This book makes me want to have studied philosophy or psychology. On almost every page, I learned to look at something in another way. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Mann VINE VOICE on 4 Dec. 2010
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This is such a great book. Every day I've been sharing what I've read with my work colleagues - I can't help talking about how interesting this all is! Kathryn Schulz has produced a work that straddles so many boundaries, and has something interesting to say in each area it touches.

It is true that the book contains lots of examples of how people get things wrong - and she makes a great choice of topics - but it isn't just a list of errors, it is a reflection on what error means for us, the role it plays and how we should respond to error. Before I get into that though I need to get back to those examples.

Then there is the extraordinary story of John Ross and the Croker Mountains and how when it is very cold objects can appear much nearer (hundreds of miles nearer) to us due to the way light bends with temperature inversion.

The story of William Miller and the Great Disappointment of 1844 (when thousands of people from all over the world thought Jesus was returning on 22 October 1844) teaches the various ways in which people respond to error.

There is the disturbing statistic that in the USA between 690,000 and 748,000 patients are affected by medical errors each year, and between 44,000 and 98,000 die from them - the low estimate makes this the eighth leading cause of death in the USA, worse than breast cancer, AIDS and motor vehicle accidents. It is the equivalent of a sold-out 747 crashing every three days killing everyone on board.

The trouble is, the way our minds work is that we tend to *initially* believe something unless we have a good reason not to believe it. That is the way we survive, that is the way we grew up.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Sam Woodward TOP 500 REVIEWER on 25 Nov. 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Schulz has had a great idea for a book here - discussing in a positive way how we are often wrong & why we have trouble admitting it to ourselves to the point of getting terribly wound up about being contradicted over the silliest things (the overheard argument over cake which can be read in Amazon's 'click to look inside' preview above is cringingly familiar). Of course, our opinions & beliefs can be wrong, not to mention our choice in partners, who often start off as The One & end up as anecdotes which end with 'what on earth did I ever see in them?'. But worryingly, even our memories can be wrong, incidents being slightly edited each time we recall them. Yet Schulz is terribly relaxed about all this, claiming that we shouldn't beat ourselves up over it & should just accept it as an inevitable consequence of having a human brain & - ironically - an integral part of determining what is 'right'.

But where Schulz herself goes wrong is in not corroborating her opinions. While I was hoping for facts thrown up by recent scientific studies which seems to be the format which many book like this use these days, she mainly presents us with her her opinions in isolation, which could therefore simply be... well, wrong. Ok by her own logic, that does not in itself invalidate them but without any proof, she could be wrong about the way we are being wrong. Or something. And the science of wrongness & how astonishingly bad our own perceptions, judgements & senses really are IS indeed out there, as hit upon in other 'philosophy' books from the seriously intellectual
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By J. H. Bretts VINE VOICE on 12 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a provocative and thoughtful book about how being human is about being wrong - and what we can learn from that. It is written in an elegant and chatty style so that, although underpinned by research and a wide range of references, it is very readable. My only complaint is that it could have done with editing; it is too long and could have easily lost 50 pages without any damage to the essential arguments.
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