It is almost impossible [for book reviewers] to … avoid the tone of being wonderfully right.
Bill Clinton calls it "a brilliant book with a sweeping grasp of philosophy and physics and all points in between." Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust chose it as the book she wishes all Harvard freshman would read. Amazon and Publishers Weekly both named it one of the Ten Best Nonfiction Books of 2010. It was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Prize. More praise for Being Wrong below.
"If you want to feel better about not being perfect and see the potential upside in your errors, read Being Wrong by Kathryn Schulz. Being Wrong [is] a brilliant book with a sweeping grasp of philosophy and physics and all points in between. ... The whole culture of either thinking you’re always right or being paralyzed by the fear of being wrong is totally inconsistent with solving the problems of the modern world."
—President Bill Clinton
"Ms. Schulz’s book is a funny and philosophical meditation on why error is mostly a humane, courageous and extremely desirable human trait. She flies high in the intellectual skies, leaving beautiful sunlit contrails....It’s lovely to watch this idea warm in Ms. Schulz’s hands.... She has gobbled books and culture like Ms. Pac-Man. She’s comfortable with everyone from Jonathan Franzen to Heidegger, and from Pliny the Elder to Beyoncé. I don’t bring this up because it’s rare to find a range of reference in a work of popular philosophy. I bring it up because when she takes a detour into, say, Hamlet, it’s time not to groan but time to sit up. She’s thought about the play and has alert, persuasive and counterintuitive things to say about it. … If admiring [this book] is wrong, I don’t want to be right."
— Dwight Garner, The New York Times
Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error is an insightful and delightful discussion of the errors of our ways. ... [Schulz is] a warm, witty and welcome presence who confides in her readers rather than lecturing them. It doesn’t hurt that she combines lucid prose with perfect comic timing. ... Schulz is not just a quotable writer; she is also a canny and original observer, adept at pointing out things that we should have known, but didn’t. ... For most of us, errors are like cockroaches: we stomp them the moment we see them and then flush the corpse as fast as we can, never pausing to contemplate the intricate design of nature’s great survivor, never asking what it might reveal beyond itself. Schulz is the patient naturalist who carefully examines the nasty little miracles the rest of us so eagerly discard.
— Daniel Gilbert, The New York Times Book Review
"In this lovely book about human mistakes, the sickeningly young, forbiddingly clever and vexingly wise American journalist Kathryn Schulz ... argues passionately for the value of error. The experience of being wrong, she argues, helps to make us better people, with richer lives."
— Stuart Jeffries, The Guardian
"Intellectualism made fun! Not many books manage to drop names like Voltaire, Shakespeare, Benjamin Franklin, Foucault, and Plato and still be entertaining. Even fewer manage to blend Socrates and Beyoncé in the same sentence without missing a beat. Schulz does. ... This book is both timely and timeless and, in a country obsessed with self-help—though she shuns the category—Schulz’s call to embrace flaws and errors as potentially beneficial will surely draw legions of followers."
"Artfully written... Schulz draws on philosophers, neuroscientists, psychoanalysts and a bit of common sense in an erudite, playful rumination on error. Being Wrong traverses disciplines and eras, deftly interweaving etymology with such sources as Saint Augustine's Confessions, contemporary neuroscience and vivid examples of radical mistakes."
"Kathryn Schulz's luminously intelligent investiagtion of our propensity to error ... ranges widely and digs deep. ... 'Wrongology" threatens to be a dismal science, telling us unwelcome truths, but Schulz's sparkling introduction greatly mitigates the pain of the message ... Being Wrong may be one of the most important books published for many years. It may seem paradoxical to try to see aright our universal, inveterate tendency to be wrong, but Schulz succeeds brilliantly."
— The Times Literary Supplement
"Beguiling [and] provocative...A book about changing your mind and changing how we use our minds. Schulz brings us to the remarkable conclusion that the prescription for avoiding errors (listening to others, being open, encouraging divergent views) is a workable description of democracy."
"Reading Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error is almost as much fun as being right. [It] is partly an intellectual history of changing definitions of and attitudes toward error, with accurate yet accessible nods to Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, John Locke, Emily Dickinson, and a host of other luminaries. But it’s also an investigation into “wrongology,” tracing the myriad, sometimes exotic, roads that can lead us into mistakes, both minor and life altering."
“Why does it feel so good to be right and so bad to be wrong? And what if everything we think we know about the importance of being right is actually wrong? Kathryn Schulz answers those questions with a lyrical, beguiling, and often very funny defense of the 'revelatory pleasure of being wrong.'"
— Mother Jones
"A brilliant new manifesto ... urging us to reassess our relationship with our own mistakes."
— The Independent (UK)
"’I err, therefore I am.’ That is the central message of journalist Kathryn Schulz’s provocative and entertaining new book. … Schulz is a compelling storyteller, and her examples of transformational experiences may be the best reason of all to read this book. You can’t go wrong giving it a try.”
—Dallas Morning News
“[Schulz] deftly weaves in real-world examples to amplify her thoughtful exploration of what she calls ‘wrongology.’… Please take this advice: Read Being Wrong, because it's the right thing to do.”
“In Kathryn Schulz’s Being Wrong (amazingly, her first) … she examines just what makes being wrong—and admitting it—so hard for us. Schulz’s exploration of wrongology’s many themes is clever, relatable, and often personable, though those themes underpin the biggest questions and dilemmas of the human experience.”
"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. ... Schulz writes with such lucidity and wit that her philosophical enquiry becomes a page-turner."
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"[Schulz's] argument is beautifully, comprehensively rendered in Being Wrong, which jumps from philosophy to history to neurology and back again, guided all along by a patient and reassuring wit. .. Being Wrong is not self-help. It is not how-to. It is not chicken soup for the soul. It will, however, teach readers to forgive themselves — and, who knows, perhaps even others — for the unavoidable litany of mistakes that define life on planet Earth.
— The National Post (Canada)
"Kathryn Schulz's Being Wrong brilliantly and ingeniously affirms the glorious possibilities—and dramatic dangers— ... inherent in flubbing it. Schulz has clearly expended immense amounts of brainpower and research on this topic. ... But she has also put her heart and soul into the material."
"A fascinating counterpoint to the notion that making a mistake somehow diminishes you as a person. ... Schulz writes in a lively style, asks lots of compelling questions, and uses plenty of examples to illustrate her points. Put this one in the same general category as Gladwell's Blink."
“Kathryn Schulz has given us a brilliant and remarkably upbeat account of the long history of human error. If Being Wrong is this smart and illuminating, I don’t want to be right!”
—Steven Johnson, bestselling author of Where Good Ideas Come From and Everything Bad is Good for You
"The book of the moment (and possibly of the year): Being Wrong, by Kathryn Schulz, who irresistibly claims the title of ‘wrongologist.’ ... Consider this book a brilliant stand against dogmatism. Schulz brings wit, depth and style to exploring the multiple ways we experience, deny, and occasionally (too occasionally) revel in being wrong. ... Beautifully and compellingly written ... It’s a book to be savored."
—Lesley Hazleton, author of After the Prophet and Jezebel
“Kathryn Schulz’s brilliant, spirited, and necessary inquiry into the essential humanity of error will leave you feeling intoxicatingly wrongheaded.”
—Tom Vanderbilt, bestselling author of Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)
“This book is both wise and clever, full of fun and surprise about a topic so central to our lives that we almost never even think about it. But for that reason this volume could also be enormously useful—there are very few problems we face, as individuals or as a society, that couldn’t be helpfully addressed if we we were willing to at least entertain the idea that we might not be entirely right.”
—Bill McKibben, bestselling author of The End of Nature and Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
"How often do you think about being wrong? I’m guessing not a lot – and that is a huge mistake. This book shows not just the many intriguing facets of being wrong that we often overlook, but why being wrong is inescapable – and, in fact, critical to our success. Kathryn Schulz is engaging, witty and fascinating as she uses a full arsenal of academic research, colorful stories, philosophical arguments and personal anecdotes to create a riveting account of why we have been wrong about being wrong."
—Frans Johansson, bestselling author of The Medici Effect
By far the most famous headline error in U.S. history, the “Dewey Defeats Truman” banner appeared in the Chicago Tribune on November 3, 1948 – the day after Harry Truman was reelected president of the United States. The article went on to state that Dewey “won a sweeping victory in the presidential election yesterday,” a claim that dovetailed with nationwide polling suggesting that a Dewey win was “inevitable.” In reality, Truman won the electoral vote by 303 to 189. He was photographed holding a copy of the Tribune at the train station in St. Louis, Missouri, on his way back to the nation’s capital for his second term.