Why You Should Admit You're Wrong
Updated: Jun 17
Admitting when you're wrong is hard, especially if you realize it in the middle of a heated argument. It can feel super embarrassing that you were so harshly defending a faulty position.
If you find yourself in said situation, what do you do? Deflect the point and say you can't possibly be wrong? Well, no, but that's what a lot of us have done, myself included.
Admitting when you're wrong has many positive effects, but conversely, not admitting when you're wrong can have very damaging effects.
For example, the debate between Stefan Molyneux and Rationality Rules. No matter who you like or dislike in this situation, Stefan is clearly wrong. Rationality Rules very concisely and politely pointed out his critiques of Stefan's book and asked him if they were valid. Stefan added some fluff to it, but his answer essentially boiled down to "I can't address this, you're wrong, this is boring."
This response royally screwed over Stefan, and rightly so. It made him appear dishonest, close-minded, difficult, and egocentric. Whether he is or not, his actions of refusing to be wrong and practically insulting Rationality Rules reflect that, and people noticed.
If he had stepped back for a second and actually evaluated what Rationality Rules was saying, he wouldn't have blindly defended a clearly incorrect stance. His reputation would have been much better off.
Why did he do this? Well, not knowing much about him, I would guess fear. Fear of appearing unintelligent, getting embarrassed, and losing his reputation, which is the reason many of us will do the same. We don't want to be seen as any of those things, so in our fight or flight state of mind we defend our position to the death, making us see ourselves as strong in the situation that is threatening our reputation or intelligence.
The funny thing is, our tireless response to valid criticism is the thing that digs our reputation's grave. In trying so hard to combat that fear, you make it come true. If you can step back and admit when you're wrong, people respect that. It's hard to do. It demonstrates you want to live honestly, you're open to listening to others, and fear doesn't rule your thoughts.
Admitting when you're wrong will likely have to be built up over time, because it's easier said than done and it's hard to eloquently put together a string of statements on the spot about how you've been wrong this whole time without feeling totally embarrassed. However, it's worth doing, and the repercussions of us doing otherwise substantiates that.