Get used to being wrong

When ideas are subject to constant challenge, we need to be better at being wrong. At accepting change and adapting our position with grace.

We’re not good at being wrong. We chastise politicians for U-turns. We punish business leaders for changing strategies. As individuals we would rather cherry pick facts from the declining pool that support our position, than accept the burden of evidence that tells us we’re wrong.

None of this is helpful. In fact, it’s downright dangerous. Because we’re all going to be wrong a lot. That’s just the nature of things now.

Positions, traditions, ideas and beliefs, whether scientific, religious, cultural, or ideological are all subject to increasing challenge. Many are not equal to the test. The way it has always been is not the way it will always be.

It was ever thus. But our burden is the accelerated pace of change. We will be more wrong, more often than our parents.

We will have to deal with it. That doesn’t mean blindly accepting the new over the old. Every new idea deserves robust challenge. But those that pass the test? We need to learn to be better at accepting.

Most importantly, we need to teach our children to accept new ideas. To recognise when they are wrong and to adapt their position with grace.

Of course, there are some things that don’t change. Fundamental principles that go beyond law, beyond religion, beyond creed. Principles that are more important now than ever. When so much is changing we need a strong moral core.

Wheaton’s law expresses them most concisely. Every important principle in one simple statement. When so much is changing. When you don’t know right from wrong, left from right, up from down, remember this one simple rule:

Don’t be a dick.

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