Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Common Reading Program Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement

“Being Wrong” Author Kathryn Schulz at WSU Feb. 24 for Common Reading Invited Lecture

PULLMAN, Wash. – Kathryn Schulz, author of “Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error,” will present the Common Reading Invited Lecture at Washington State University at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24, in Beasley Coliseum.  The public is welcome.

“Being Wrong” is the 2013-14 book chosen as the university’s common reading and is being used in dozens of first-year and other classes on campus. Topics from the book inspire academic discussions among students and faculty, and are the subjects of lectures presented throughout the year by faculty on their research and by other guest experts.

“We are excited to welcome Kathryn to Pullman, and look forward to her interactions with students and faculty as well as her evening presentation,” says Susan Poch, co-director of the common reading program, part of the Office of Undergraduate Education. “Her book has been well received by the WSU community and many interesting conversations have been, and are being, inspired by it.”

“Being Wrong” touches on topics ranging from neurology to social bias to the roots of comedy and narrative. Karen Weathermon, also co-director, believes the book has been a good fit in especially two ways.

“Schulz’s basic premise is that while most of us abhor being wrong, it actually presents an opportunity to realize something new about ourselves, our world, our beliefs. At our research university, things often go presumably ‘wrong’ in a researcher’s work. When we look into why they went wrong, it often happens that new paths open to different discoveries. In fact, all research starts with a desire to investigate something that we don’t understand fully, or even that we realize we have ‘wrong.’”

“The book has also been a good fit for students. Being able to see their own challenges and failings as opportunities for growth is a valuable skill for them to develop.”

Schulz is also a journalist, public speaker, and book critic for New York Magazine. Her freelance writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, TIME Magazine, the Boston Globe, the “Freakonomics” blog of The New York Times, The Nation, Foreign Policy, and the New York Times Book Review, among other publications. In 2012, she won the National Book Critic Circle’s Nona Balakian Prize for Excellence in Reviewing. She is the former editor of the online environmental magazine Grist, and a former reporter and editor for The Santiago Times, of Santiago, Chile, where she covered environmental, labor, and human rights issues.

She was a 2004 recipient of the Pew Fellowship in International Journalism (now the International Reporting Project), and has reported from throughout Central and South America, Japan, and, most recently, the Middle East.

A graduate of Brown University and a former Ohioan, Oregonian, and Brooklynite, she currently lives in New York’s Hudson Valley. She has been featured in a Ted Talk and on YouTube.

For more information on the common reading program, visit

Jan. 28, 2014

SOURCE: Karen Weathermon, Co-Director, WSU Common Reading Program, 509-335-5488,

Susan Poch, Co-Director, WSU Common Reading Program, 509-335-7767,

LINK: To Daily Evergreen story


WSU Common Reading Book for 2013-14 is “Being Wrong” by Kathryn Schulz

PULLMAN, Wash.—The Washington State University Common Reading Program announces that the book selected for 2013-14 is “Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error,” by journalist Kathryn Schulz.

“We are quite pleased that President Floyd chose ‘Being Wrong’ as the next common reading for our students,” says Susan Poch, co-director of the Common Reading Program and head of the selection committee, and associate dean of the University College. “It is a most interesting inquiry into the multitude of subjects surrounding human errors and our perceptions of them.

“Our selection committee this year studied 30-plus books nominated by the WSU community and ultimately had a field of three finalists. Provost and Executive Vice President Warwick M. Bayly, who typically makes the final selection, was on leave at the time, so our president chose the book. We commend the nominators, the committee, and President Floyd for their efforts on behalf of our students.”  [http:/]

Student Paula Tilson, serving on the selection committee, was enthusiastic about the book, which will be used in several courses for first-year students.

“It’s very readable for freshmen and I think they will want to read it,” says the junior accounting major from Olympia. “Coming in from high school, they will find they are expected to perform at a higher level in college and they think they have to be right all the time. But the sooner they learn there’s no way for them to be perfect all the time when it comes to academics, the better. This book will help them realize they can learn from their mistakes and build on that. And not to give up after being wrong but deal with it and work to improve.”

The other two finalist books are “The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water,” by Charles Fisherman, and “Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight about Animals,” by Hal Herzog.

“Being Wrong” was nominated by Adam Williams, administrative manager in the Dept. of Entomology, who first heard it favorably cited by former U.S. President Bill Clinton. Upon learning it was chosen as WSU’s next common reading book, he said he was pleased and that it will stimulate critical thinking in readers.

What does he hope students get out of the book? “I’d like students’ take away to be that, for any number of reasons, it’s OK to be wrong and recover from it. It’s humbling sometimes, but a way to get grounded as they go on into the world.  I hope students view error differently from this book and use experiences as growing opportunities to promote open perspectives.”

Common Reading Co-Director Karen Weathermon organizes the Common Reading Tuesdays guest lecture series that provides information and insight from thought leaders and researchers from the WSU as well as the external community.  At weekly events, these experts present topics related to subjects raised in each year’s common reading book.  She also works with faculty who are teaching courses as part of the Freshman Focus learning community.

“’Being Wrong’ presents an interesting perspective on research, which is an important activity at our land-grant, top tier research university,” says Weathermon. “How we advance our understanding of all fields is by investigating the questions where we don’t have a full, complete, or ‘right’ answer.”

As in years past, desk copies of ‘Being Wrong’ will be available to Pullman faculty members who are considering using the book in with their courses, Weathermon says.  Those interested should contact her at for a copy.  They will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

CONTACT: Susan Poch, Associate Dean and Co-Director of the Common Reading Program, University College at WSU, 509-335-6037,

Karen Weathermon, Co-Director of the Common Reading Program, University College at WSU, 509-335-5488,

MEDIA: Beverly Makhani, Communications Director, University College at WSU, 509-335-6679,