How to Admit You’re Wrong

Related to yesterday’s post, where the ideas are of a piece:

“Kathryn Schulz loosely defines being wrong “as a deviation from external reality, or an internal upheaval in what we believe” — with the caveat that wrongness is too vast to fit neatly into either category….

…“We’re highly motivated to reduce that uncertainty,” Fetterman says. “Oftentimes, the most common way that people get rid of it is by rejecting the new information or creating a new cognition that basically gets rid of it. Not too often do we actually change our thoughts or behaviors in order to align with the new information.” This can look like only taking in information that confirms already held beliefs, justifying the belief, or denying anything that contradicts their beliefs. “The motivation to reduce that dissonance leads us to even double down or to come back even stronger with our beliefs,” Fetterman says…

…“Over time, fact after fact after fact will start to erode people’s beliefs away.”

To come to these realizations, Brown says we have to be open to the fact that we’re capable of making errors and setting our ego aside to accept we live in a world where we’ve faltered or have changed our minds in some way. In fact, Fetterman says, just accepting our own mistakes can allow us to be more open to being wrong.

It’s natural to get defensive or provide excuses for why you were wrong, but “these strategies for deflecting responsibility for our errors stand in the way of a better, more productive relationship to wrongness,” Schulz writes. To admit erroneousness without excuse — to simply state, “I was wrong” — is a skill, Brown says. “It probably is going to come out more as an explanation of why they were doing what they were doing,” Brown says. But with time and practice, we can come to recognize our mistakes without explaining them. The key is to consistently own up to our mistakes as soon as we realize we’re wrong.”

Allie Volpe, “How to admit you’re wrong.” vox.com. July 13, 2022.

In the context of “the free energy principle”, you can eliminate “surprise” by not acknowledging it. But, the irony is that you set yourself up to be “surprised” time and time again until you recognize the surprise. Being wrong works they same way and is related. Acknowledging where we are wrong and where our worldview is off and leads to surprise helps us to correct our mental model of the world into a better form. But, if we are deceiving ourselves in the interest of protecting our ego, we set ourselves up for more surprise and more wrongness.

So, You’ve Made a Mistake…

  • Acknowledge you’ve made a mistake to yourself.
  • Think about the mistake. Why did it happen?
  • Think about making the same mistake again in the future.
  • Acknowledge the mistake, describe it and the damage it caused precisely, apologize to those impacted, suggest how it might be redressed, and then listen.
  • Agree on a course of action to address the mistake, and do it.

https://meta.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/So_you’ve_made_a_mistake_and_it’s_public…