Fascinatingly right about being wrong – just too much of it.
This was a book at once absorbing and exhausting. Kathryn Schulz’ scholarly and wide-ranging enquiry into both the necessity of being wrong, the neuroscience of being wrong and the certainty of being right is well written, even with a light and playful touch at times. But it is just too long. Right about being wrong too much and too often. Nevertheless I do recommend this book, even if I times I wanted some severe cutting!
Schulz provides much evidence and draws good conclusions about why we absolutely need to make snap judgements and believe them – if you stop to think about the rustle in the high grass and the statistical likelihood of it being wind or a predator for too long, rather than just getting the hell out of there, lingering and pondering may just cost you your life; vamoosing may leave you feeling a little foolish, but perhaps you won’t even know you merely escaped certain death by a stray breezelet, rather than a crouching carnivore.
However, in complex social encounters we still have this need to hold on to our certainties, despite the fact that our senses, our experiences, our memories, our judgements and beliefs so often deceive us. And it generally feels awful, as earth shatteringly important and crucial to believe WE are right about who said what to whom back in that family argument at Aunt Doris’ wake, or whether my country or yours is right or wrong, as it would have been to get that rustling grass call right – even if we were wrong.
If we CAN’T trust ourselves (despite being so often wrong) whom can we trust. There’s a mismatch between our logical ability to know I really CAN’T be right and YOU be wrong, every time, and how that FEELS. Most of the time my senses tell my sense I am right – therefore if you conclude differently it must be YOUR senses and sense that is wrong. However, YOUR senses tell your sense that YOU must be right and therefore I must be wrong…………….Schultz examines the difficulties, and the necessities of the balance between being able to accept our errors without losing trust in ourselves.
Sometimes, just being able to say ‘hey- it’s only my neurobiology here’, cuts the sting and devastation of what it feels like to be wrong, remarkably. In the end, it’s actually very far from being personal, a breeze in the grass, not a serpent!
Originally received as an ARC from Amazon Vine UK