Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Man Who Was Almost Always Wrong

I will not give his name but you would recognize it if I did. He has written essays and books and has served as the editor of a prominent journal. I've greatly enjoyed reading his work over the years and yet there is one slight problem: He is almost always wrong.

Dead wrong. Mind-numbingly wrong. Wrong in a way that should be shouted from the rooftops.

But he is amiable and bright and being wrong does not seem to have harmed his career. While I might have headed to the hills to do penance and eat locusts, he flourishes. His opinions are taken seriously in certain citadels of the American elite.

I have no problem with that because he is always worth reading. He brings up interesting points and ferrets out tantalizing facts before arriving at his wacked out conclusions. [There was one essay in which he was right on all points. He wrote that over 20 years ago.]

It is good that he is out there. He serves a real purpose and will take you on a fascinating journey. You may not like the destination but the trip's a blast. And his example raises a question: Would he be able to survive in an organization that ultimately favors results over creative thinking?


Eclecticity said...

I'm guessing N. Chomsky. ???

Do you provide consolation prizes? E.

Anonymous said...

Morning Mr. Wade,

I have an idea who this might be, but the actual identity is almost irrelevant.

The larger point is, is creative thinking by itself harmful? Absolutely not. It gets us in the habit of thinking beyond numbers and results. It also can result in a fresh approach to a recurring problem or even a cyclical or seasonal one.

I do not believe results and creative thinking are mutually exclusive. I read everything I can get my hands on. I lean far right, but I read and watch many different liberal outlets (they are practically unavoidable, heh). I very much enjoy the "think-tank" process, where anything and everything is allowed to be mentioned and discussed.

On the other hand, we need to know when we are beyond the boundary of "creative", and entering the land of the asinine. Results DO matter.

As long as we are looking far enough ahead to allow ourselves the time to creatively brainstorm, we will probably end up doing what is best.

Sound naive? Maybe it is, but sometimes just as cynicism and negativism are bedfellows, so are naivete and optimism. Hopefully our team has the right mix of all of the above to find the best solution.


Michael Wade said...


Thanks for the sound observation. I believe that gaining a wide range of perspectives is crucial and that a healthy dose of humility should be taken daily by leaders.


No cigar. I'm not very impressed by the political and historical analyses of the good professor so the journey as well as the destination wouldn't work in his case. The person I'm thinking of is not as controversial but he's quite well known.