I suppose there is a vast array of ways to measure the character of a man, but I find that watching a grown adult handle being wrong is an easy way to see what kind of mettle they’re made of.
A person fumbling out an excuse by way of acknowledgement of error is as uncomfortable an experience as watching a bad improv show, and really, as I have said before (#7,788- Teach Your Sons to Cheat)- no one cares. No one cares how you got to the wrong conclusion, and you sitting there trying to justify your mistake is awkward and boring. Move on.
It’s not easy to gracefully be in error, but at the very least you can admit it. Relenting on a well-argued point after you’ve been soundly defeated is at least an honorable exit to the situation. Watch coaches after they’ve lost a well contested game. They go and shake their opponents’ hands, and #2950- Move On.
An apology when necessary is a good follow up, but that’s it. You don’t need to get into the details of how you got to your incorrect conclusion, and you also don’t need to get into how smart your opponent was, keep your damn head up, leave your embarrassment on the bench (for the most part) and realize that as humans, we are evolving and learning constantly, and things the smartest of us (as a species) knew to be fact, in time, were proven not to be. In a December 1934 article of the Pittsburg Post-Gazette, Einstein was quoted as saying, ‘There is not the slightest indication the [nuclear energy] will ever be obtainable.’ Later that year, Enrico Fermi discovered that if you bombard uranium with neutrons, the uranium atoms split into lighter elements, releasing energy.
Did Einstein fumble around trying to justify what he said, or did he go work on the Manhattan Project?
So let yourself be wrong, and try to gracefully let go of your erroneous point, and move on with your new knowledge about the state of things.