Being Wrong

I could see that I was not going to cope as well as I wished with life unless I could acquire a better theory-structure on which to hang my observations and experiences. By then, my craving for more theory had a long history. Partly, I had always loved theory as an aid in puzzle solving and as a means of satisfying my monkey-like curiosity. And, partly, I had found that theory-structure was a superpower in helping on get what I wanted — as I had early discovered in school, wherein I had excelled without labor, guided by theory, while many others, without mastery of theory, failed despite monstrous effort. Better theory, I thought, had always worked for me and, if now available, could make me acquire capital and independence faster, and better assist everything I loved.

if you want people to care about improving their beliefs, you need to show them how improved beliefs will help them get the things they really want.

There’s a fundamental relationship between improvements to our error-correction systems and our ability to nurture success in our spheres of influence. The less wrong we are, the more useful and valuable we become.

To this end, I’ve found that regular walking-dates with the following questions are enormously fruitful:

  • Given what I learned today, what was I wrong about yesterday?
  • How did I come to hold those incorrect beliefs?
  • What additional evidence would have helped me earlier?
  • What kept me from seeking and/or seeing that evidence?
  • What would I have gained by being right earlier?

As we repeat this exercise, we come to discover a fixed number of traits that serve as the usual accomplices for our wrongness.

I’m increasingly convinced that Munger was on to something really important. If we want to be less wrong, we have to focus on the benefits of being right.

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.

– Saint-Exupery