The inability to see when we are wrong.
No one ever says “I am wrong.”
“While being wrong is happening, you are oblivious to it,” Katheryn Schultz
Being Wrong, a 2010 book by Katheryn Schultz, is one of my favorites, and one I refer to frequently. She says, “As soon as we know that we are wrong, we aren’t wrong anymore, since to recognize a belief to be false is to stop believing it.”
Schultz continues: “Perception is the interpretation of sensation. Interpretation implies wiggle room — space to deviate from literal reading, whether of a book or of the world. Every step in the interpretive process represents a point of potential divergence between our minds and the world — a breach where mistakes can sneak in.”
Wiggle room is always present with interpretation. What we believe involves interpreting what we see. And beliefs become behavior. To interpret is to explain the meaning of. Explaining the meaning of what we believe, or what someone else believes is full of wiggle room.
Error blindness, of course, has always been with us. What makes it so important now is because we have a president who never believes he is wrong. He is a national example of error blindness. His inability to see he is wrong (error blindness) is obvious. Every time Trump lies, he is wrong and in error. His error blindness is obvious — to others. While his being wrong is happening, Trump doesn’t see it.
The good news is that Trump is demonstrating error blindness for the world to see. Since it is easier to see error in others, many are seeing error blindness being displayed. The bad news is that describing and demonstrating error blindness to others isn’t demonstrating and describing error blindness to himself. It is easier to see the blindness in others than it is to see it in oneself.
In the mind’s eye is where we see things. This is where interpretation thrives. It is called one’s worldview: “The overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world; a collection of beliefs.” Interpretation is where wiggle room and error blindness reside. How we see and interpret the world is determined by our beliefs. And then beliefs become behavior. Wiggle room and error blindness complicate interpretation in everyone. When interpretation is being done by oneself, this is where wiggle room is available.
Being wrong, while interpreting, is when error blindness can occur. The interpretive process, explaining the meaning point of potential divergence between our minds and the world — is where mistakes can sneak in. This is easy to see in others. But will this insight in others be converted to oneself? Not likely.
When looking at oneself, the eye can’t see itself without the help of a mirror. When looking inside oneself, to know oneself, Peter Senge says “you need a human mirror, the help of feedback from another person, — a ruthlessly compassionate partner.”
Well, maybe not ruthless, but a compassionate partner who knows you and will be honest.