Being Wrong but Useful

Alyssa Wright reflects on how creating value and being right don’t always align. Beliefs shape lives, but the utility of those beliefs is often more important than their truth.

We all want to be right, to have a true understanding and right perspective on the world around us. We look around at different perspectives that clash with our own and think those people are ignorant, stupid, or evil. We look into the past and see all the times people were wrong and laugh at how stupid they were.

But in the future, people will look back and laugh at us and how stupid we are. Are, as in right now in this current moment. We are wrong about a lot of things, and don’t even know it. Probably a majority of what we believe to be true isn’t.

In some cases, our wrong beliefs have a functionality. If they have enough sense, they cohere with the rest of our understanding of the world. In science, models are simplifications of reality. In the past, models for atoms were incorrect or an oversimplification. But in high school chemistry class we still learn about Bohr’s model of the atom before we learn about the more complex, more current models. Because there’s a usefulness in the wrongness. The model is inaccurate, but it helps simplify the concept so it is comprehensible.

For this post, I’m drawing from two videos. “On being wrong,” a TED talk by Kathryn Shulz, and “You have no idea how wrong you are,” a video I watched during Praxis last month.

We’re wrong, a lot. Kathryn Shulz said in her talk, “Being wrong feels like being right.” And it does, until or unless we realize we’re wrong. But in the realm of religion or philosophy or etiquette or any number of other things, we will never know if or that we’re wrong. We can change our minds, sure, and think we used to be wrong in what we believed, but we can’t know.

For example, I don’t believe in any god or gods. But a lot of people do. I used to. I don’t know if I’m right or if some of the people who believe in a god or gods are right. I could very easily be wrong. They could very easily be wrong. Everyone is probably wrong. And we’ll never know what’s right. But what we believe is right shapes our lives.

That most of what we think and believe is true doesn’t entirely matter. Most of it is probably wrong. Whether it works and makes sense in relation to what we know and understand of the world matters. Though most of our understanding is probably very wrong. But it works, just like Bohr’s model of the atom. It has a utility.

When we can relate to the world and to each other in a way that makes sense and use that relation to create value, we can succeed. Even if a decade, or century, or millennium from now people look back and think we’re stupid for how wrong we are. If it works and we can use it to create value and improve people’s lives, including our own, we’ve succeeded.

How right we are doesn’t matter. How much value we can create does.

Back to Daily Blogging

Alyssa Wright shares her commitment to daily blogging for the next 30 days.

It’s been a while since I blogged every day for a noteworthy amount of time. In January I hit over 100 days straight. That felt really fantastic. I was thrilled with my obvious progress and dedication to writing.

And then I fell off. I don’t know exactly why.

It could have been tied to my breakup. I could have been down or unmotivated for other reasons.

I kept trying and failing to restart my daily blogging. The first couple weeks are probably the hardest, and after that it starts to become a habit. After a couple weeks, keeping up the streak becomes really important.

So here I am, publicly committing to blog every day for at least the next month. By the end I should be set to keep it up.

I want to surpass my last 100 day streak. I want to get to 200.

But I understand that I need to start small, get my engine warmed up, before I can keep it moving that long.

So here’s to 30 days seeing you on my blog.

“At Least Smile” (Poem)

A short poem by Alyssa Wright about the impact of humor on a serious situation.

How do you add
Humor to Solemnity?
Something funny to something serious?
It’s really quite simple:
What is your
attitude or your tone?
Is it
humorous or solemn?
funny or serious?
A sprinkling of a
humorous tone or attitude
Can work wonders
on a situation.
It can make someone
Laugh despite circumstances,
or,
at Least,
Smile.


This is from September 2014. I made a few minor edits.

If you like my poetry, be sure to check out my poetry collection! You can read some of it for free here, buy the collection, or join the January/February giveaway for a chance to win the ebook.

I’m also on Patreon. Be sure to join me there for cool rewards!

“Deal With It” (Poem)

Everything is building up,
It’s getting to be too much.
You want to get it over with,
To say ev’rything is finished.
But no, you can’t.
You have to finish what you’ve started.
You can’t quit.
You want to, but
That’s not an option.
Your brain is sick.
Sick of the stress and strain.
You’re sick of it too.
You get to suck it up
And deal with it.
The stress makes it harder to sleep,
Harder to concentrate.
But still you must deal with it.


This was originally written in October 2013.

If you like my poetry, be sure to check out my poetry collection! You can read some of it for free here, buy the collection, or join the January/February giveaway for a chance to win the ebook.

I’m also on Patreon. Be sure to join me there for cool rewards!

Social Media and Attention

We all know that social media can be a time suck. That we should spend less time on it. That it can ruin our attention spans.
I’m finding that to definitely be the case.

I stopped using Discord because I was wasting a lot of time whenever I logged in. I had been spending hours talking to people, reading messages, etc. Then I stopped. Not even intentionally, but I got so busy with Praxis and everything I was doing I never thought to log in.
I went on yesterday and remembered why I quit.

I stopped using DeviantART sort of accidentally, similar to my unexpected unplanned leave from Discord. I got busier, so I didn’t have time to go on. I wasn’t posting, so I wasn’t wondering if people were commenting or favoriting my posts.
I was on briefly the other day and was surprised by how many comments I had as well as how many people were still interacting with some of my posts.

I’ve been spending more time on social media. Not on purpose. I go on and scroll. I read the posts, look at the pictures, sometimes hit the like button or leave a comment. On Twitter sometimes I’ll read a thread on a controversial post, or something I find fascinating. On Facebook sometimes I’ll look at the comments and it’s either a huge fighting mess or people say some fun things.
Either way it’s wasting my time. And I can tell that it’s making me more prone to distraction.

I’m trying to read through Breaking Smart Season 1 (for Praxis, but I also want to read it). I keep getting distracted. When I got to that piece of content, I wished it was a video series instead of articles. Reading articles felt like it would take so much more time.
That could be because I’ve gotten into the habit of using watch time to also do something else, like knit, color, or draw. I love that I can consume content while doing something else I want to do. In fact, I don’t knit or color unless I’m consuming some kind of content, be it for entertainment or information.

I can see the correlation to social media, because when I’m getting distracted, it’s with a desire to open Facebook or Twitter or Instagram.

I’m not going to quit all social media, in part because I use it to promote this blog and connect with people. I am going to cut back. By paying attention to the time I’m spending on social media and being tactful about when I allow myself to go on, I can limit the amount of distraction it gives me.