The Margin of Error: Surviving in a Cynical World

“Maybe 99 of 100 people will disappoint you. But I don’t know, I think you find the magic of the world in the margin of error.” – Hart of Dixie


The other night, as I sat down to watch my latest guilty pleasure show,¬†Hart of Dixie, I was pleasantly surprised by the heartwarming turn of events (as I seem to be every week). For those who are unfamiliar with the show, Rachel Bilson stars as the cynical and often impersonal Zoe Hart, a New York City-trained doctor who winds up in Bluebell, Alabama. In this week’s episode, Zoe must suspend disbelief when even science gives her a 99 percent chance of being right about a diagnosis that the rest of the town disputes.

Zoe claims that the leftover one percent stands for mere margin of error rather than admitting that sometimes people will prove her wrong. The episode is all about having faith in other people and not letting our past experiences cloud all of our judgments in the future.

Too many of us become jaded in order to protect ourselves from heartbreak and disappointment. If we freeze the world out, we are less likely to be hurt. But we freeze the world out, we close ourselves off to some of the most fulfilling relationships we never knew we had.

Blind trust is a bad thing, but I’m a firm believer in cautious trust — letting others in gradually, allowing them to prove their trustworthiness over time. Ultimately, others will¬†hurt you, but as Lavon Hayes (one of the characters on Hart of Dixie) says, the magic of the world comes in that margin of error, the 1 percent who surprise you and renew your faith in friendship and love and kindness. As difficult as it may be, sometimes we need to shut out our own cynical thoughts and remind ourselves of why the world is so beautiful.

2 Replies to “The Margin of Error: Surviving in a Cynical World”

  1. interesting take. i’m one of the jaded ones and i just don’t see how it makes sense to keep opening yourself up to failure, you know? i understand your point, though. it’s like that saying by wayne gretzky: you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

    1. I think you bring up a valid point, one that I didn’t focus on as much as I wanted to in my morning glaze. I think that you should let others in gradually, but that you should still keep a watchful eye for certain warning signs. You shouldn’t say that because Person A did something negative, Person B and Person C will automatically turn out just like Person A. For example, if Maria’s last boyfriend cheated on her, she shouldn’t automatically assume that the next one will, too, and the one after that. But if she starts to consider dating someone who *does* have a history of cheating on his girlfriends, or who exhibits some of the same warning signs that her ex did (or if she starts dating her ex again), she should be a lot more careful or avoid the situation. I think there’s a fine line.

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