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Friday, 12 November 2010

Justify this! A review of "Mistakes were Made (but not by me)"

Cover of "Mistakes Were Made (But Not by ...Cover via Amazon
This is the second book I have read that looked at the nature of human error. The first one, "Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error" by Kathryn Schulz, was a half-philosophical work that looked at the whole scope of wrongness and our relationship with it. Although scientifically sound, Schulz's excellent work was far more to do with making peace with mistakes. Similar aspects are also present in Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson's joint work, "Mistakes Were Made (but not by me)", but this is a far less sympathetic book driven by the passion of two straightforward and eminent psychologists who focus specifically on the human reaction to personal error. Tavris was given a special award for her working contribution towards the empirical scientific sceptical movement and "Mistakes Were Made (but not by me)" seems destined to be the sceptic's go-to work on the phenomena of confirmation bias.