Today I learned the expression “wronger than wrong”. It is from the legendary science fiction writer Isaac Asimov. He wrote an essay in response to someone who questioned his belief in scientific progress. Essentially, he was challenged to defend his views that there is progress if science is constantly redefining its theories. From Asimov’s essay:
This particular thesis was addressed to me a quarter of a century ago by John Campbell, who specialized in irritating me. He also told me that all theories are proven wrong in time.
My answer to him was, “John, when people thought the Earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the Earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the Earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the Earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together.”
The basic trouble, you see, is that people think that “right” and “wrong” are absolute; that everything that isn’t perfectly and completely right is totally and equally wrong.
However, I don’t think that’s so. It seems to me that right and wrong are fuzzy concepts, and I will devote this essay to an explanation of why I think so.
The entire essay is interesting. You can find it here: The Relativity of Wrong