We're Blind to Our Own Mistakes


I maintain the AYE web site as part of my responsibilities this year for the conference. I post the news, the new articles, and do the general updating. Monday, I posted one of Don Gray‘s articles, Shifting the Burden – Whose Monkey Is It? Except, Don and I had both made a mistake. Don had originally spelled Whose Monkey as ‘Who’s Monkey.’ Something looked off (!) to me, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. One of the people who attend the conference yearly reviews the site updating I do, and she told me about the Who’s and Whose. So I fixed the article title. Today, I received an email reminding me that the title wasn’t just in one place, it was in several places, and could I please update all of them?

After saying “duh” several times, and fixing the name, I realized what had happened. I had literally fixed the title of the article and that’s it. I had forgotten about all the referring places.

I didn’t mean to be stupid, or fix just one piece of the problem. But I was in a rush and didn’t take the time to ask myself, “Where else is this problem?”

If I’d been pairing, I doubt the other person would have let me forget. We would have had a good few seconds saying “Where else is this mentioned?” and fixed everything at once. But this is why I ask for peer review.

I find it impossible to see all of my own mistakes, even when I look for them. I’m sure you also find it difficult to find all of your mistakes. But other people who haven’t authored the work are much more likely to see my (and your) mistakes. So it’s ok if we have blinders on, as long as we make sure someone else reviews the work who can see what we’ve done.

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