Kathryn Schulz

Being wrong is underrated. Think how much we’ll eventually learn from the Gulf Coast oil spill about environmental restoration, ocean currents, preventing future blowouts, alternative energy, and suing the pants off British Petroleum. So it was with the Challenger space shuttle disaster, the Titanic, the Hindenburg, and the eruption of Mt. St. Helens—which none predicted to occur. Experts simply assumed they just wouldn’t happen. But as science writer Kathryn Schulz argues in Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error (Ecco, $26.99), disasters and even minor mishaps help to teach us something. They disprove invalid theories, provide empirical evidence, and expose sloppy thinking. She writes, “Far from being a mark of indifference or intolerance, wrongness is a vital part of how we learn and change. Thanks to error, we can revise our understanding of ourselves and amend our ideas about the world.” Like BP CEO Tony Hayward, for instance: No one will ever make the mistake of employing him again. See—we learned something useful. (Also: Thurs., time TBD, at Elliott Bay.) BRIAN MILLER

Wed., June 30, 7 p.m.; Thu., July 1, 2010

 
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