Half the Ideas in this Blog Are Probably Wrong

I just finished reading The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature by Matt Ridley. It is an excellent book on the economics of sex from a genetic point of view. I’m not going to review the book, others have done a better job than I. However, I loved a sentence that was put at the very end of the book.

Half the ideas in this book are probably wrong.

After 400 pages of detailed scientific writing, the author concedes that half of the conclusions he arrived at will end up being proven wrong. I love the spirit of throwing out new ideas and challenging old ones, knowing full well that you will be proven wrong to some degree at some future date and being OK with it.


I used to believe that cake was awesome food. I was wrong.

The reason the sentence spoke to me was that last week someone called my attention to a blog post I wrote years ago that contradicted a recent post. That person was upset with my current opinion and decided to call me out on my inconsistencies.

I’m cool with admitting when I’m wrong. As new evidence emerges or as my understanding of a topic improves, I’ll change my opinion. Should I take down old posts or correct them? Probably not, because if I was wrong on certain points before, then odds are that I’m wrong on a few things right now.

Being Wrong is Liberating

Whenever I think back to the points in my life where I admitted that I was wrong, it was almost always followed by a surge in personal growth. I no longer care if I save face. I’d rather chalk things up as a learning experience and move on.

I’ve been wrong about politics, nutrition, fitness, finance, and even relationships. I’m certain to be wrong in the future. Trying to stay true to former opinions is too exhausting. It is better to quickly admit errors and move forward.


Add yours

  1. Amen, bro. When that attitude pervades a workplace, the laboratory, a relationship — you name it — there will be room for greatness.

  2. Great post! Fundamentalism of any stripe really rubs me the wrong way, while I’m sure that in some areas I’m guilty of it too. You should really check out Sex at Dawn…..

  3. I never did understand why when, for examples, politicians are found to have published a paper in their youth, or made a statement or held a belief, and now have a different understanding of an issue they are accused of being “flip floppers” as if that were a bad thing.

    I think being open to new ideas, being willing to challenge your own ideas, and change them is a sign of great intelligence…. so keep blogging along, keep reading and experimenting, and changing your mind as need be… though in the blog, you might consider not deleting old posts, but rather posting a note with a link to your more current beliefs. (of course I may be wrong about all of this!)

  4. Yes! This spirit very much runs through Being Wrong – Adventures at the Margin of Error by Kathryn Schulz – highly recommended!

  5. @GWhitney – Thanks for the book tip. I just put a hold on that book at my library branch.

  6. Might be a good idea though if you believe a post to be wrong to at least attach a warning to it and/or link to the newer and contradicting content. People will still find those old pages, and you dont want them to get the wrong impression, do you?

  7. @Thor – Good point. If I do see something really off, I try and add an update link to the new stuff. However, with almost 1,600 posts there is no way I’m going to be able to do a complete job.

  8. I’m so glad you re posted this, as I would have missed it otherwise. This is why I love your blog and similar writers to yourself, such as Chris Highcock. You are not scared to explore ideas and experiment, but then also admit you were wrong and change direction when the evidence points to a better way. This takes a large dose of humility, honesty and enlightenment, and the ability to analyse and be self critical.
    I wonder, in the two years since you wrote this what are the top five, or maybe even ten areas that you think you have changed your thinking on? I suspect the switch to HIT training would be in that top five perhaps? I also wonder what areas you still suspect that your thinking may not stand on solid ground, and that you predict will probably change in next few years? Once again, I suspect your training views are not set in stone, and your recent attempts to add a small dose of volume reflect that. Time will tell. This is evolution my friend, and that is a good thing…..

  9. @StuartG – Great question. I relinked to this post after getting some info on the running injury post. I’ll be doing a follow-up there. I had already switched to HIT by the time this post went out, so I wouldn’t include that. Maybe the part of HIT that says to always go to total failure. I no longer feel you need to do that.

    Most of the changes I’ve had in the last 2 years are dietary. The confidence that I understood how I got lean in 2011 was unjustified. It is far more complicated. Brilliant people can’t agree on anything. People are getting good and poor results following the same advice.

    The 2 changes that come to mind are removing sugar from my big 4 toxin list (wheat, veggie oils, unfermented soy) being the other. The other big change is the quest for resiliency over optimal health, which I outlined in this post.

  10. Thanks for the reply…..I’m curious ( as there is much debate in HIT circles as to what it is ) but what is your definition of total failure? Opinions do vary. As for myself I feel that if I attempt to try another rep, in good form obviously ( no cheating these days in order to make reps, my joints wouldn’t cope anymore ) and I stall and can’t move then that is set over, no prolonged static holds, or resisting the negative. Yet the old push at all costs part of me, that is slow to die, still doesn’t consider what I do as “Total failure”. There is a part of me at times that considers what I’m doing as wimping out, but fortunately the rational part of my brain takes over and remembers that I’m still making progress week to week, and that pushing to those levels really isn’t necessary,and what I’m doing is enough. Quite often I won’t even go to the stall point, I’ll finish one rep, and I’ll know through experience that another rep won’t be possible, so won’t even attempt to start. So I’m just wondering what you used to consider as total failure, and what do you do now? Is that slight drop in intensity coupled with the slight increase in volume? Have you noticed better results from the shift in emphasis?

  11. @StuartG – I believe it means you only have enough strength left to slowly resist returning the weight to the starting point. Not enough to positively resist.

    I was forced to lower intensity as a strategy to minimize exertion headaches. True HIT gyms are kept at a crisp 61F degrees. My Glitter Gym is always about 69 degrees. Those 8 degrees are huge when your body is approaching failure. So I backed off on intensity and increased the volume. Is it better or worse? I don’t know. I do know that I stopped getting those headaches. Ectomorphs can respond better to more volume.


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