Why Being Wrong Can Make You Right 

We all know someone who just has to be right and can’t admit being wrong; those who would argue that 1+1 does not equal 2, no matter what proof there is.  It gets to the point where these people are just irrational.  
Like the doctors who don’t know much about Lyme disease but just know it is not persistent.  They have not read the research that proves persistence and they don’t want to.  But they’ll argue with the research just the same.  

How does this make sense at all?  Someone disagrees with what you are saying but won’t even read/listen to what it is you are saying.  

The best I can come up with is that they simply are too attached to being right–like it somehow means they are stupid about everything; not that they just don’t know this one (out of a million) facts.  And even reading something contrary to what they believe will crack their already fragile ego.  

I feel lucky that I have been in a field of work where you have to accept in school, long before you start working, that you will be wrong, and you will be told how and why you are wrong.  A lot.  Usually, it is in a nice way, and that helps.  But it has taught me how to be fine with being wrong.  

It may be partly that I know I can’t possibly know everything, and I’m fine with that.  It would be super-human to have that ability.  But apparently some people just can’t accept that of themselves.  

I have also been an easy-going person most of my life.  It’s just a part of my personality.  This also makes being wrong easier for me.  After I got Lyme disease and couldn’t think well for, oh a few years, I got used to being wrong even more.  Luckily, those in my life usually understood, and I didn’t connect my sense of self with my lacking brain powers.  I also usually didn’t insist I was right on anything since I knew better, which also made it easier to admit I was wrong.  

Lyme patients need to deal with people like this all the time.  So how do we do it? We have a few options: 

1. Walk away. You probably won’t change their minds anyway; it goes deeper than them believing a fact about Lyme. 

2. Soften the blow. Note that a lot of people don’t know much about Lyme disease–one can’t possibly be expected to know everything about every disease.  Doctors may be more opposed to this line of thinking, but it’s true; otherwise, there wouldn’t be specialists. 

3. Ask them for their view or why they believe what they believe.  A lot of times they cannot back up their beliefs, but if they do give an answer, don’t try to argue with them.  Sometimes you can find a point you DO agree on (example: the tick species) and then expand on that, acting like they knew this as well, but you were just the first person who said it in the conversation. You are now on the same side and they are more likely to listen.  

4. Give them time.  They may go look up some facts on their own but do not want to admit they are wrong at the moment right to your face.  Then if you talk about it later at some point, they may be more open to ideas since they know a bit more what they are talking about.  When one knows more about a subject, they are more open to talk about it rather than just shut a person down outright. 

Even though Lyme disease has brought me some really sucky “presents,” it has also brought me some good ones.  I double or triple think things, I make more lists, am more organized, and I have learned to be wrong and how to be okay with it.  

This doesn’t mean that I won’t every once in a while break out the line “I’ve heard it both ways” (from Psych).  Sometimes I may even say a word wrong on purpose just to get a chance to say it.  Next time you encounter one of these especially irritating always-have-to-be-right people, you may want to try doing this.  Maybe even in every sentence.  It’s truly addicting.  

                                                                                 

— Loon Out 

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