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Paul Kedrosky: On Being Wrong(er)

In this episode, Paul talks with journalist and author Kathryn Schulz. They discussed Shulz’s recently released book, “Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error.”

They talked about Schulz’s premise that we’re all wrong, all the time, and how the inability of politicians and business leaders to admit to mistakes can be devastating. On the other hand, the ability to learn from our mistakes can have personal benefits.

An excerpt from the interview

Kedrosky: Okay. And it’s been just a wonderful series of interviews. And the one that – there’s been a couple that have really caught my eye. One was with the hedge fund manager and – well, intermittent hedge fund manager and columnist, Vic Niederhoffer who is a fascinating guy and it sounds like you had a truly entertaining series of e-mails back and forth getting the thing together. And the other one who I thought was really interesting was Ed Viesturs who is an Everest climber, a high altitude alpine climber. And maybe just to start with that one, I thought he had a really, a comment that caught me by surprise and I wondered if you thought about it in the context of the book. Because you asked about some of the many fatal mistakes made on mountains every year and he made a comment that, you know, one of his worst mistakes was one that actually didn’t turn out to matter because they went ahead up and they came down and they survived. And you said, you know, this doesn’t sound so bad. You made it down safely after all. And his comment was, “Yeah, but a mistake is a mistake even if you get away we think.

Schulz: Yeah, I have to say I was so thrilled that he said this because it’s such a nice and also such a vivid encapsulation of a very basic, but I think overlooked principle of what I call in the book “wrongalogy.”

Most of us, I think, tend to assume that a good outcome means we had a good and reliable process, and likewise that a bad outcome means that our process was bad. And unfortunately, that’s not actually the way life works.

You can hit on a, you know, a great discovery or a great solution or a correct answer or you can get safely down a mountain and still have done innumerable, stupid, stupid things along the way.

Listen to the entire interview here.