Last weekend I attended the Midwest Science of Origins Conference at the University of Minnesota-Morris. It was a good conference, and I’m writing a longer article about my impressions of the event. But I sat down yesterday and this came out, so I thought I’d put it up now.
Last weekend I was at the Midwest Science of Origins Conference, and I was wrong quite a few times. Not in flashy, obvious, foot-in-mouth ways, but in a myriad of little ways. And I’m not talking about having those enlightening “Hmmm…I’d never considered that before” moments. I’m talking about having ideas and preconceptions challenged in conversations with other people and in the lectures.
I consider myself very lucky to have been corrected by some interesting and intelligent people on Saturday (and not just by subject experts; I’m looking at you, Morris student. You were brilliant during the open discussion in the atrium). And that’s one of the reasons why I go to things like this. I want to be less wrong, and gathering and mulling over new information is the only way to do that.
I have a college degree and work in a scientifically technical field. I am a prolific consumer of media and books. I share ideas with friends who have different opinions and worldviews. I go out of my way to have new experiences, to get out of my comfort zone, and to learn new things every day. And still I will always be wrong about a lot of things a lot of the time.
I don’t like being wrong, especially if I end up being wrong in front of people. Depending on how wrong I am, what I’m wrong about, and who is witnessing me being wrong I can get flustered, red-faced and even a bit queasy. But debating, blogging, getting outside of my head – these are all ways to a) learn I’m wrong b) learn why I’m wrong and c) learn what’s right. Dispelling bad information or perceptions is worth some discomfort now and then.
Also, by putting myself in these situations I get to share what I know, which may help somebody else to consider their ideas and perceptions. I also become more confident about the things that I know I have right, which means I get better at discussions and debates. The more you learn, the more opportunities you have to be wrong AND right. But we don’t ever get to be right about everything unless we live in a very, very tiny little world. Learning about the world around us is an on-going challenge that ends only with death. Once we realize this, I think we are more likely to recognize when we are wrong, to admit it, and to not take offense when we are.
I recommend getting out there and being wrong. You’ll be a better person for it.