Being Wrong

  • by Kathryn Schulz
  • Narrated by Mia Barron
  • 14 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

To err is human. Yet most of us go through life assuming (and sometimes insisting) that we are right about nearly everything, from the origins of the universe to how to load the dishwasher. If being wrong is so natural, why are we all so bad at imagining that our beliefs could be mistaken, and why do we react to our errors with surprise, denial, defensiveness, and shame?
In Being Wrong, journalist Kathryn Schulz explores why we find it so gratifying to be right and so maddening to be mistaken, and how this attitude toward error corrodes relationships—whether between family members, colleagues, neighbors, or nations. Along the way, she takes us on a fascinating tour of human fallibility, from wrongful convictions to no-fault divorce; medical mistakes to misadventures at sea; failed prophecies to false memories; "I told you so!" to "Mistakes were made."
Drawing on thinkers as varied as Augustine, Darwin, Freud, Gertrude Stein, Alan Greenspan, and Groucho Marx, she proposes a new way of looking at wrongness. In this view, error is both a given and a gift—one that can transform our worldviews, our relationships, and, most profoundly, ourselves.
In the end, Being Wrong is not just an account of human error but a tribute to human creativity—the way we generate and revise our beliefs about ourselves and the world. At a moment when economic, political, and religious dogmatism increasingly divide us, Schulz explores with uncommon humor and eloquence the seduction of certainty and the crises occasioned by error. A brilliant debut from a new voice in nonfiction, this book calls on us to ask one of life's most challenging questions: what if I'm wrong?


What the Critics Say

“Engrossing.... In the spirit of Blink and Predictably Irrational (but with a large helping of erudition)... Schulz writes with such lucidity and wit that her philosophical enquiry becomes a page-turner.” (Publishers Weekly)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A good read

I must start out by saying that I was prompted to write this review because the two reviews on the Audible website were quite negative. I am nearly halfway through this book and I am thoroughly enjoying it. For an audio book, though, it is a bit of a difficult “read” because of the depth that the author goes to in her discussion of the subject matter.

As mentioned by one of the other reviewers, the author cites numerous experts, authors, and studies in the book. When listening to a study that the author is describing to present a point, one must focus carefully on the details to fully understand and appreciate the implications of the study and how that fits into the larger argument that the author is presenting. I must admit that with this book I find myself rewinding and reviewing the material far more often than I have with other audio books to fully understand the ideas presented. In some respects, this book might be better read than listened to in order to easily comprehend the material. But, I find it difficult to read a book while I am doing aerobic exercises, walking the dog, or cleaning the house.

Despite the difficulties cited above, this is a book that I would certainly recommend to others. I find the organization of it to be logical and the author’s presentation to be coherent and interesting. If you are curious about how we think and come to what we believe is the truth and how we deal with errors, it is certainly worth a few minutes of your time. I should also note that the author is currently writing articles on matters related to the materials in the book in Slate (on the web) which I also enjoy.
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- Mike Kircher


My mantra since reading Being Wrong is "I may be wrong about this". Schulz is helping me embrace my inner mistake maker. Who knew that I'd learn more and be more effective if I simply said "I was wrong" - without trying to come up with reasons or explanations. This is a book with good ideas and a wonderful writer. The writing may be more revelatory than the ideas (and the narration of the audiobook is simply divine), but the ideas are pretty good. Making mistakes defines our humanity, and a tolerance for mistakes (in ourselves and others) is synonymous with maturity.
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- Joshua Kim

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-08-2010
  • Publisher: HarperAudio