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Being Right on Planet Earth

November 28, 2012

A few posts ago I talked about how I feared being wrong. How it might bite me in the butt later. But I have an even greater fear — and that is being right. But why would anyone fear being right? Because if I’m right, that means everyone else who doesn’t agree with me is wrong! There are a lot of things that I think are right that most other people on planet Earth think are wrong. That would mean that if I were right the majority of humanity would be wrong. That would mean that while spaceship Earth is travelling 107,000 km/h through space the majority of its sentience habitants would be leading themselves in the wrong direction. That’s scary.

But that is all abstract. And while that’s scary it isn’t as utterly terrifying as this: my being right and the person in front of me being wrong. Imagine this conversation:

Mr. Wrong: Did you know the earth travels at a speed of 107,000 km/h?

Mr. Right: Actually, that isn’t really correct, because speed is always measured in relation to something. So really, the earth is only travelling 107,000 km/h in relation to the sun.

Mr. Wrong: But, how can it be travelling at two different speeds?

Mr. Right: Like I said, speed is measured in relation to something else. You may only be driving at 50 km/h but that is relation to the earth. But in relation to the sun you are traveling at around 107,000 km/h.

Mr. Wrong: But but…

Mr. Right: But it gets even more complicated. The earth may be travelling at 107,000 km/h in relation to the sun, but it is travelling 828,000 km/h around the galactic core. But we can’t just add this to Earth’s speed around the Sun, because we’re moving in circles – all we can say is that Earth’s speed around the galaxy is somewhere between 721,000 km/h and 935,000 km/h depending on the day of the year. But we’re not done yet, because the Milky Way galaxy is not the centre of the Universe! Instead, it is just one member of a cluster of galaxies, known as the Local Group. Relative to the centre of this group, the Milky Way travels at about 144,000 km/h. The Local Group cluster is part of a larger structure made of all the neighbouring clusters: The Local Supercluster. Relative to this, the local Group moves at about 600km/s (2.16 million km/h)! And on and on it goes.

Mr. Wrong: Wow. You just made me feel really really dumb.

Mr. Right: Well then stop being dumb 😉

How do you tell people they’re wrong without sounding like a jerk? It isn’t easy. What often needs to be done is a culture change. We need as individuals to be comfortable to admit that we are wrong. For if everyone around you feels that you won’t melt down when they tell you you are wrong, they will be much more willing to correct you when you are wrong. Therefore putting you on a path hopefully to more correct and true beliefs.

On the flip side, you don’t want to be a pushover, because then you will just believe whatever someone tells you. And that’s no good either. Thus, not only do people need to be comfortable in being wrong, they need to be comfortable in being right. And a healthy balance of both I think would go a long way in improving community relations.

Now how we get there I have no idea. But I’m sure talking about it is a start 😀

P.S.

And yes, the numbers are rounded and some are probably wrong :p But they’re close 😉 I think…..

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