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Running on Jewish Time

Friday, March 17, 2006

Nothing Wrong About Being Wrong

Everyone knows the sort of conversations that you get into at the library with foreign students, about the differences in American culture and the 60's and the whole 'what does it mean to be American?' thing. Jews, paradoxically citizens and strangers in a land not their own, usually have a lot to say about it.

Then I cracked a joke, "America is a nation of rejects." The student laughed and someone across the table did not.

Excusing herself into the conversation, she said," You know, there are some students that sound like they know what they're talking about, but they don't. I'm not offended but it seems like you are making some gross generalizations... and what you're saying is discriminatory... and maybe you should take some courses on this..."

and off she went for a good two pages.

Not entirely sure how I provoked such a lesson on the fallacy of casual arguments. I asked her quite bluntly, "Please, if what I have said is wrong, either in tone or content, tell me how."

and off she went again, dancing around and around and around some point eventually coming to the assertion that "There's nothing wrong with being wrong but..."

Nothing Wrong with being wrong?

There is everything wrong with being wrong. What's the point of asking the questions, if there is no answer to be found? Or if my current assesment of life is as 'not wrong' as what I would come up with afterwards.

For the love of truth, if you can't expect the average college student to be able to take being wrong and then argue back, we might as well close down the university.

Was my assertion 'America is a country of rejects' correct?

Probably not.
But is there an element of truth in it? Probably yes.
Most of this country came here fleeing either starvation or persecution, populations that couldn't survive where they were, effectively left in the dust behind the juggernaut of civilization.

If a person refuse to let can't be wrong, can't be told, "You've forgotten about X,Y & Z, idiot" how are they ever supposed to get it right? It's doing no favors.

At least give me a chance to correct myself rather than ascribing my assertions to everything from particular faculty to gang mentalities.

If there's nothing wrong with being wrong, then even blatantly idiotic statements must be considered seriously.

No wonder she doesn't have a sense of humor.


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