On the Problem of Always Being Wrong

I was a middle-school teacher for thirty-one years. That, of course, basically means I have to be wrong about everything. Principals have told me so. Parents have told me so. And students who have heard them say so take it completely to heart because, well… Who has the most authority to declare someone else completely wrong?

Yes, I have it on good authority… I am wrong about everything, always.

.

But it is very useful to realize that I am in good company. Galileo was wrong about the sun not going around the Earth. The College of Cardinals said it was so, and the Inquisition forced him to confess he was wrong. Giordano Bruno was so wrong about Copernicus being right that the Inquisition had to burn him at the stake. One would almost think that it is a bad thing to be wrong.

But it’s not.

Science, in fact requires its greatest practitioners to find out all the ways that they are wrong. How else do you create a theory of what is probably right?

It is fundamental to the scientific method to be as right as it is possible to prove. Of course, every scientific theory yields up a lot of anomalies that somehow defy the rules of the currently understood correct theory.

Isaac Newton got thumped on the brain-top by an apple and realized that the same thing that made the apple fall to Earth was making the Moon fall to the Earth, although the Moon is falling at the same rate as it is going around the Earth, so it never finishes the falling.

Later, Albert Einstein would realize that Newton’s gravity would even bend the light of distant stars around the edges of the Sun. And so, he found where Newton, genius that he was, was wrong. And so, the Theory of Relativity was born.

Guess what. Einstein was wrong too.

So, ultimately, it is okay for me to be wrong about things. It is necessary to be wrong before you can find out what is right. So, when I say something stupid like the following…

Comedy is good for you.

You should be naked more.

Fairies are only real if you believe in them.

You must take a leap of faith and live in the world like a Navajo, in tune with the natural world and comfortable with other people living in your world too. Moment by moment in the present moment.

…and eventually, I may stumble upon what is right and true. Or get burned at the stake like Bruno. That happens too.

2 Comments

Filed under artwork, commentary, fairies, humor, Paffooney, philosophy

2 responses to “On the Problem of Always Being Wrong

  1. Mickey, this is terrific. Keith

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