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  • Heather Caslin

Make it right to admit when you're wrong.

If I could wave a magic wand and change something about the world, I would make it right to admit that sometimes we’re all wrong.

Think about a conversation you’ve had, about behaviors you’re doing to keep you or your family healthy, how you perceive the world, about something else that really mattered to you, or even about politics when someone said “you’re wrong”. Maybe this was just implied or maybe it was explicitly stated, but think about how it made you feel.

Now imagine that instead of feeling defensive, like it was an attack on you as a person or as a parent, or like it was an attack on your intelligence, maybe you feel uncomfortable for a few seconds, take a breath, and then ask for more information. Imagine that you’re able to have a better conversation. Imagine that you’re able to debate and leave the conversation with an opinion that is a little more informed. Imagine that you go on to do more research or change your position when presented with new evidence, and it helps us all move a little closer to the truth.

I consider learning to be wrong the most important skill I learned in a PhD. My data would tell me that my hypotheses were wrong, my peers and mentors would tell me when there were gaps in my thinking or when there were major things I was ignoring, new papers would be published that suggested the opposite of what my data said.... it wasn’t ever comfortable to feel “wrong,” but I’ve slowly gotten used to it and it really has made me a better scientist, teacher, mentor, friend, and human. It is hard, and I still work to do this daily, but it’s worth it.

In the IG space, I’m constantly confronted with health, exercise, nutrition, and vaccine misinformation, but COVID-19 and racial injustice have made it even more critical that we all find it right to sometimes be wrong, and get comfortable being wrong, so that we can all be better.

So next time you’re confronted by someone telling you that you’re wrong, take a moment to keep your walls down and listen. And just see where the conversation goes. Because there are so many more pressing issues than our egos.

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