cover image Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error

Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error

Kathryn Schulz, . . Harper/Ecco, $26.99 (405pp) ISBN 978-0-06-117604-3

In the spirit of Blink and Predictably Irrational (but with a large helping of erudition), journalist Schulz casts a fresh and irreverent eye upon the profound meanings behind our most ordinary behaviors—in this instance, how we make mistakes, how we behave when we find we have been wrong, and how our errors change us. “[I]t is ultimately wrongness, not rightness, that can teach us who we are,” she asserts. Schulz writes with such lucidity and wit that her philosophical enquiry becomes a page-turner. She deftly incorporates Wittgenstein, Descartes, and Freud, along with an array of contemporary social scientists and even a spin with Shakespeare and Keats. There's heavy stuff here, but no heavy-handedness. Being wrong encompasses the cataclysmic (economic collapse) and the commonplace (leaving a “laptop in front of the window before the storm”). Being wrong may lead to fun (playing with and understanding optical illusions) or futility (the Millerite expectation of the Rapture in 1844). Being wrong can be transformative, and Schultz writes, “I encourage us to see error as a gift in itself, a rich and irreplaceable source of humor, art, illumination, individuality, and change”—an apt description of her engrossing study. (June)