Not wrong, just unrefined


So I’ve just finished reading Isaac Asimov’s essay ‘The Relativity of Wrong,’ first published not long after I was born in the (northern hemisphere) fall of 1989. In it, he describes all the ways that the theory of the shape of the earth has evolved since the huma race began thinking about it, from flat to spherical to oblate shperoidal to ever so slightly pear-shaped, and discusses how each of these jumps was not a proving wrong of the previous theory, but rather a refining of it. The mathematical differences between each of these jumps are not large at all, and so each theory is more a reflection upon the sophistication of the measuring equipment we had at he time than of any backwater hick mind sets we may have had at the time. 

I kind of feel like this theory on the relativity of wrong – how it was less incorrect to assume that the earth was a proper sphere than to assume that it was flat, because the difference between an oblate spheroid is smaller than that between a flat plain and a sphere – applies to the experience of navigating the world as a grown up. You think a thing, and then as you get more information and learn more about taxes and navigating your job roles and how friendship is still much the same as it was in high school except that everyone pretends they’re above all that shit, you gradually change what and how you think about the thing until you look back at what you thought and say to yourself, How did I ever think that? And that’s how you grow.

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