You Might Be Wrong

It’s not easy for me to admit I might be wrong. Usually I’m pretty confident that what I believe is true, and I tend to stick to my guns. But I’m starting to think this isn’t the most effective way to live my life.

I was playing Settlers of Catan the other day with some friends. A question came up about the rules, and I was pretty sure I was right. After all, I have been playing this game for years. I have almost always been correct about rules questions in the past. So I was pretty confident I was correct in this situation as well.

I wasn’t. Sure enough, after a 20-minute pause to the game, I read through the rulebook (which is extensive, if you have ever played this game), and I found out that I was, in fact, wrong. The proof was right there, in writing. I shrugged my shoulders, a bit surprised, and we continued to play the game.

The lesson here is that you might be wrong. In fact, you and I are probably wrong about a great many things. If I’m confident about something, it doesn’t necessarily mean I am more likely to be correct. In fact, the exact opposite might be true. Psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger found that the more incompetent someone was, the more likely they were to overestimate their abilities. This is called the Dunning-Kruger effect, and it should make us pause whenever we feel overly confident about something. Better to proceed cautiously with humility than to rush forward with (over) confidence.

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