Academic Integrity

People in our culture think they can never admit they are wrong. This is especially true of so-called experts in any discipline. I’m not sure if it’s a pride thing, a worry that it will undermine their credibility/reliability as a source of good information, or (maybe more likely) a mix of both.

Politicians have the added consideration that people would be hesitant to vote for someone who admits they were wrong and then changes their position on an issue–it begs the question of what else they are going to change their mind about. Entire parties seem to get locked into this defending-previous-opinions cage even if that previous position doesn’t make sense anymore.

The more intelligent someone is, the better they are at justifying or spinning their position to make it seem like they weren’t wrong.

And I’m tired of it.

The benefit of having the academic integrity, humility, and bravery necessary to admit you were wrong more than compensates in the long run for any possible short-term downsides. Admitting fault acts as a signal to others that even experts are fallible humans, too, and that they, too, are still learning and improving. It shows we are not close-minded and dogmatic. And most importantly, it shows we are seeking truth rather than selfish aims.

Our learning and growth and progress will be stunted if we are ever-defending our errors. So let’s stop.

This is my reminder to do that myself, and it’s my encouragement for everyone involved in politics and policy to do the same. I am committed to being transparent about my areas of ignorance and my wrong assertions and also my biases. And as I work at completing and perfecting my knowledge, I will continue to try to be a reliable source of information by suspending judgment on an issue until I feel like I have understood all aspects of it thoroughly enough to make a sound assessment of it.

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