2013-08-14

Honest Mistakes

Sometimes even David Henderson makes a mistake. It's not surprising to discover that even very smart humans are fallible, but it can be surprising - and inspiring - to find out how very smart people handle being wrong:
So here I was, at the front of a room containing 400 people, facing a long walk to the back after I had completely blown it. But I've always thought there's nothing shameful about making honest mistakes. So even though I could feel some shame growing, I told myself that I had just made an honest mistake. So I looked at the panel and then the audience and then said: 
Henderson: Well, one of the reasons I come to the AEA meetings is to learn things and I just learned something.
I found it very odd that The Anonymous Reach would stick to his guns on racism, on immigrants who have job offers, and on the banality of the fact that immigration is not about having an existing job offer. He could have easily walked back on any of these points, acknowledged that he was over-extending his point, acknowledged that there was more to the issue than he was letting on, acknowledged the inherent xenophobia in the belief that Mexican immigrants "will" adversely affect the social fabric of America. Instead, he indulged in some righteous indignation and doubled-down. He started calling me his "nemesis" and stuff.

When those guys criticized my view of marijuana legalization, they demanded that I cite my sources. I did. That's when they got really upset. Rather than acknowledge that they had been wrong about marijuana's side-effects, they indulged in some righteous indignation and doubled-down.

For many of us, being wrong feels like a fatal, shameful, humiliating error. David Henderson's story proves that it certainly need not be. It's okay to make mistakes if we learn from them and correct our errors.

Unfortunately, many others find an error too humiliating to recover from, so they change their narrative in order to get themselves off the hook. There is no "hook." There's no shame in being wrong. The only shameful thing is refusing to acknowledge it.