Monday, July 25, 2005

Being wrong: It's a good thing

One could argue that what truly distinguishes homo sapiens sapiens as a species isn't mental capacity, opposible thumbs or subcutaneous fat, but evidence that suggests we're the only animal that will choose death over being proven wrong.

People don't like to be wrong, but they should really give it a try every now and again. Being proven wrong is the gateway to all new knowledge, and it's actually freeing and exciting.

My most recent bout with wrongness has been my belief that all online media discussions devolve at some point into partisan brawls. Last week's PressThink thread seemed to support my thesis, and since the topic was the Plame Game, one can hardly be surprised.

But the current thread over at Jay Rosen's indespensible website has turned out to be refreshingly civil -- even inquisitive. Commenters I have sparred with, and in some cases disparaged, have made thoughtful, reasonable points. They've asked good questions. There hasn't been a notable insult, left or right.

Why the change? Why is one week contentious and the other harmonious (though certainly not bland)?

If I were a sociologist, I think I could get a Ph.D. examining the communities that grow up around successful blogs. They are endlessly fascinating.

And anyway, I was wrong. Not all media discussions end in partisan, culture war bickering. Thank goodness.