Can you recognize — and admit — when you’re wrong? If not, you’re not alone, science reporter Brian Resnick writes in Vox.
In “Intellectual humility: The importance of knowing you might be wrong,” he examines the roadblocks that keep people from admitting and learning from their mistakes. What’s more, he considers how humility can help science move forward, even when researchers’ results are disproved or deemed impossible to replicate.
Resnick’s article is packed with examples of professionals, from psychologists to presidents, who have trouble confronting their mistakes.
There are reasons it’s so hard: After all, people don’t know what they don’t know. Resnick digs into the psychology of why we can interpret illusion as reality (remember the “The Dress” meme, when people looking at a dress online saw different colors?).
He also dives into a crisis that is rocking some scientists’ faith in their methods, and in themselves. In recent years, reproducibility — the ability to verify an experiment by doing it again and obtaining the same results — has become a thorn in psychological science’s side. As more and more psychological experiments prove impossible to replicate, Resnick says it’s critical to develop more personal and institutional humility. “There needs to be more celebration of failure,” he writes, “and a culture that accepts it.”
For Resnick, intellectual humility is an “important and underappreciated virtue” — a tool that lets us admit when we’re wrong and learn something in the process. And it’s one that science is trying to tackle.