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What to do when you’re wrong

Summary:
We all get things wrong from time to time, particularly in relation to fast moving events like the pandemic. So, how can you respond when this happens. Here’s a list of possibilities, generally from best to worst in terms of intellectually responsibility and from least to most common in terms of frequency Admit error, look at why you were wrong, try and do better next time (let’s get real, we are talking about human beings here. this almost never happensGo quiet for a while, and don’t return to the topic until you have done some rethinkingArgue that you were right, but that circumstances have changedClaim that, despite appearances, you’ll be proved right in the endGo quiet and scrub as much of your past track record as you canClaim you always held the opposite position to the

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We all get things wrong from time to time, particularly in relation to fast moving events like the pandemic. So, how can you respond when this happens. Here’s a list of possibilities, generally from best to worst in terms of intellectually responsibility and from least to most common in terms of frequency

  1. Admit error, look at why you were wrong, try and do better next time (let’s get real, we are talking about human beings here. this almost never happens
  2. Go quiet for a while, and don’t return to the topic until you have done some rethinking
  3. Argue that you were right, but that circumstances have changed
  4. Claim that, despite appearances, you’ll be proved right in the end
  5. Go quiet and scrub as much of your past track record as you can
  6. Claim you always held the opposite position to the one you previously supported
  7. Keep fighting, focusing on how being right has made your opponents even more discreditable
  8. Double down and claim a conspiracy against you

I’m planning to do a few posts soon looking at positions I’ve taken that appear to have been wrong, and trying to stay in the top half of this list

John Quiggin
He is an Australian economist, a Professor and an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow at the University of Queensland, and a former member of the Board of the Climate Change Authority of the Australian Government.

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