Why I Hate Being Right

The Wrong Stuff : Error Message: Google Research Director Peter Norvig on Being Wrong

If you’re a politician, admitting you’re wrong is a weakness, but if you’re an engineer, you essentially want to be wrong half the time. If you do experiments and you’re always right, then you aren’t getting enough information out of those experiments. You want your experiment to be like the flip of a coin: You have no idea if it is going to come up heads or tails. You want to not know what the results are going to be.

Being right too often means that the experiment is poorly designed. Or that you are so self-righteous and idealistic that you can’t tell the difference.


2 thoughts on “Why I Hate Being Right

  1. This presupposes that one has to be committed to an outcome, whereas you can have no opinion and just be seeking to find the answer. There are times when one thinks, this may do that. Good idea, let’s see. Yes it does, or no it doesn’t. But one is hardly wrong when you didn’t know.

    So I don’t want to be wrong half the time, rather be amenable to changing my ideas. (Of course this approach is similar to what the quote is suggesting).

    Related to this is learning from mistakes which businesses should be more amenable to, but for fear of litigation etc. there can be a larger culture of hiding or blame over openness.

  2. Yes, not presupposing an outcome is best; but that requires a particular frame of mind.

    I think it has mainly to do with being humble enough to change my ideas. But a sign for me that I’m not being humble enough is when I notice that everyone is telling me how smart I am and no one is disagreeing with me. That means that for some reason I can’t hear whoever is telling me where I’m going wrong, and I’m probably about to stumble.

Instigate some pointless rambling

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