We have this thing in us that is completely incapable of avoiding fallibility (errors). Have you ever made a mistake when doing something and wondered how you could have made such an obvious silly error?
We also have this thing in us that makes us want to distance ourselves from completely being fallible (wrong). How many times have we expressed regret over something that we did or watched people go public denying their involvement in something that went wrong?
Necessary fallibility is the unpredictability of events that take place from an error that at first appears completely disconnected from events taking place.
The problem is that most of us try our very best to avoid being fallible (wrong). It is a survival skill necessary because of our simple hard-line approach to right and wrong. When a person is right, they are rewarded with approval, promotions, positive reviews. When a person is wrong, they are punished with reprimands, disapproval, negative publicity and even job loss.
The bigger problem is that fallibility is (errors)unavoidable. We are incapable of doing everything correctly. Mistakes can only be avoided if we find of ways of first accepting their inherent role in our lives. Only then can we learn from these errors in order to prepare for future unknown events.
When I think of necessary fallibility events such as the current financial crisis due to errors made in real estate practices or the devastating hurricane Katrina where systemic engineering errors on levees led to the worst natural disaster to affect an area in the United States or the dumping of millions of gallons of oil into the gulf coast due to the a simple
Perhaps we have been approaching errors all wrong (no pun intended). Rather than be quick to punish for the error, we should perhaps consider the possibility of encouraging the discovery of errors. Errors in our society give us insight into possibilities around us.
In this TED video from Kathryn Schultz who is a wrongologist she talks about our need to avoid being wrong. Kathryn Schultz challenges the idea of being wrong and proposes a different solution to our approach to being wrong.
My book recommendation for this week that connects to this topic is:
“The Checklist Manifesto” by Atul Gawande. It is an amazingly easy read. The simple break through of using check lists revolutionized the medical industry and highlights the absolute necessity to embrace our fallibility in order to find solutions to bigger systemic problems.
- On Being Wrong: After the Cliff and Before the Fall (fodder4thinking.wordpress.com)
- On being wrong: Kathryn Schulz on TED.com (ted.com)
- The Use Of Uncertainty (randi.org)
- Reframing Internet and Chapel Mormonism (ldstalk.wordpress.com)
- 5 Must-Read Books on Error & the Science of Being Wrong (brainpickings.org)
- Unfollow Away (jimmitchem.posterous.com)