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Determine if an ancestor was ever naturalized and, if so, discuss your consulate's requirements for proving this.

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Postby Em » Fri Oct 13, 2006 7:35 am

jpp888 wrote:You ask which surveys or reliable studies I have to back up my claim and I will tell you none. But on the other hand, which studies do you have to back up your claim? Also none! That doesnt make the point or discussion any more or less valid.


I don't have any studies to back up my claim because I don't claim anything. I believe that Americans are individuals, and thus cannot be categorized as you are wont to do.

You have lived in many places, and have met many people; so have I. You were raised during the Cold War; I was too. My experiences, however, are different from yours.

You are convinced that your experiences represent reality; I believe my experiences are only my experiences. Do you see the difference? When you generalize based only on your experiences, you run the risk of stereotyping, especially if you make such statements without documentation.

I try to avoid generalizing even when statistics support my statement. For example: you say it is correct to identify the U.S. as a Christian nation based on statistics that show 79 percent of Americans are Christian. I would prefer to say that in 2001, 79 percent of Americans identified themselves as Christian. To do otherwise is to negate the experiences of the non-Christians (who although in the minority, still represent a substantial part of the U.S. population). It is a subtle distinction, but a distinction nonetheless. In other words, it is, IMO, better to avoid blanket statements that do not accurately present the "entire picture."

May I suggest you read an excellent discussion on assumptions that are often made in writing that was prepared for distribution by the Princeton University Writing program.

http://web.princeton.edu/sites/writing/ ... reason.pdf

BTW, when you say something is the "norm" it is indeed a generalization unless you can prove it.
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Postby Tiffany » Fri Oct 13, 2006 5:01 pm

I agree with both you and Em that this discussion is pointless, as there will never be an end.

I just want to add that if you poll Italians, you will find they are statistically a very Catholic nation. However in my experience, what people define themselves as, and what beliefs thay actually hold, especially concerning religion, can be very different things. I'm pretty sure almost every Italian I know would define their religion as Roman Catholic on any census taken (with exception of three people I can think of). In reality, only two of them go to church on a regular basis. Most of them also practice birth control and one has even had an abortion. In short, many of the Italians I know do not lead a very Catholic life, even though any census taken would recognize them as Roman Catholic.

My point: what the statistics say, and the actual truth of the matter are often times two very different matters, especially when it comes to something as subjective as religion.

Like Em, I don't feel I need to back up my claims because I haven't made any. I have just contradicted my experiences to others. I am not the one prosecuting America, I am defending it through my own experiences. The burden of proof is upon the prosecutor to prove his claims, not the defendent. This is not blind faith either. I know there are bad schools, violence, racism, etc. I also realize there are positive factors as well, not all schools are bad, there are many places you can walk without being shot, etc, which according to the previous posters, do not exist at all. I know there are positive sides, because I've LIVED them, just as you have lived through your negative ones.

There is talk of blindness, but if I can see both sides, and am indeed open to seeing even more, while they claim there is absolutely only one (the bad), who is blind? Is it not blindness, not ignorance, to judge others without knowing them? To judge an entire people (or even most of them), though there is no foreseeable way you've met them all? Because that's what's stereotypes do - they take someone's experience and apply it to a whole group of people at large. Diverse individuals, you, me, Em, GabrielleAM, are lost; we cease to exist in a stereotype. I think that is the true injustice in this entire discussion.
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Postby jpp888 » Tue Oct 17, 2006 4:42 pm

Em wrote:
My American citizenship is indeed precious to me, and I would never renounce it.

No, the U.S. is not perfect, and I don't consider it "blasphemy" if someone criticizes it. Your generalization about the American response to criticism is just that--a generalization. There are few countries in the world in which citizens are more openly critical of their government than this one.

It is indeed possible to love a country and still recognize that it is not perfect. That is why we have elections, and that is why we have protest marches. People continue to strive to create something better. It does not mean it is impossible to love what we have.


You have made a number of claims here.

Can you prove that your citizenship is precious to you? Can you show me a study to back up your claim? Just because you tell me it is so doesn't make it true.

<<There are few countries in the world in which citizens are more openly critical of their government than this one.>>

<<People continue to strive to create something better. It does not mean it is impossible to love what we have>>

Where is your study to back these statements up? How do you know there aren't 50 countries that are more critical of the government than Americans are? How do you know that people are striving to create something better? Because you saw it on CNN? Because you experienced it first hand? To quote you exactly: When you generalize based only on your experiences, you run the risk of stereotyping, especially if you make such statements without documentation.

The fact is that you cannot produce any documentation to back up any of the above claims. Does that make it untrue?

I can show you a study that proves cars dont cause global warming. I can also show you one that proves they do. So which do you believe? The one that you want to. Studies on most subjects dont prove anything because they are largely based on experiences and opinions.

Em wrote: I try to avoid generalizing even when statistics support my statement. For example: you say it is correct to identify the U.S. as a Christian nation based on statistics that show 79 percent of Americans are Christian. I would prefer to say that in 2001, 79 percent of Americans identified themselves as Christian. To do otherwise is to negate the experiences of the non-Christians (who although in the minority, still represent a substantial part of the U.S. population). It is a subtle distinction, but a distinction nonetheless. In other words, it is, IMO, better to avoid blanket statements that do not accurately present the "entire picture."


The fact is that in any society the majority is who determines the norms. There are always exceptions. However, if more than 3/4 of the population act in a certain way, than it is not false to say that the population acts in such a way. It is impossible not to generalise. Look at it this way: the study said 79% of americans are christian. They did not go to every one of the 300 million americans and find that exactly 79% of them are Christian. They made a census and interpolated based on the data they had. Maybe 78% are Christian, maybe 82%. They had to generalise or there would be no data at all.

Look at it another way: simplify things and say Republicans are conservative (right wing) and Democrats are liberal (left wing). This is a statement that almost all Americans would accept as fact--the parties in fact have described themselves in this way. I can find quotes and documents to back this up if you dont believe me. However, I can find Republicans who are liberal and I can find Democrats who are conservative. So to you that means that I am lying if I repeat the original statement.

Or how about this statement: the Nazis acted out evil crimes because they killed millions of innocent people. Similar statments and findings are written in many books and taught in every classroom in every school and university of the world. However, I can give you studies and lists of Nazis who were very compassionate and good people. Pope Benedict XVI is just the most famous example. The fact is generalision is necessary because the majority of those who belonged to the party were people who did evil things or allowed evil things to happen. If no such generalisation was made, there would be no way to produce a documentary or teach about the regime at all because it would be so bogged down in political correctness and insignificant facts.

Generalisation is necessary because life/education/media/business/etc would be impossible without it! The difference is generalising when the statement is true for the majority or for a minority.
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Postby Tiffany » Tue Oct 17, 2006 5:17 pm

jpp888 wrote:
Em wrote:My American citizenship is indeed precious to me, and I would never renounce it.


We are asking you to prove generalizations about a country. You are asking Em to prove that she loves her citizenship - a statement which is not a generalization, but rather a personal feeling about herself, no judgement involved.

I can't prove that I love my husband. This is a personal feeling. I can't prove that I love Italy and America - these are also personal feelings.

But if I said "I know all Italians are in the mafia and all American are redneck hicks," this is not a personal feeling. This is a stereotype and it prejudges many people all at once.

If someone said "I hate all Italians because they are corrupt," this would be a personal feeling that was based on a statement that prejudges others - a stereotype in other words. This person would be asked to prove the stereotypical portion of the statement, not the part that deals with personal feeling.

Do you see the difference?

Is generization necessary? Why? Can't you live your life without them? Just because it's readily acceptable to Society, does not make it necessary.

I could just as easily describe the principles of Nazism and the events they led to. I do not need to use any generalizations.

And how do you know Pope Benedict XVI is a Nazi? I hope you are not confusing Nazism with just being German...
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Postby Em » Tue Oct 17, 2006 6:31 pm

Started to respond and then decided that this nonsense is a total waste of my time. Best not to bother with it Tiffany.
Last edited by Em on Tue Oct 17, 2006 7:40 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Postby Em » Tue Oct 17, 2006 6:35 pm

Couldn't delete the message, so I'll just say "Ditto."
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Postby jpp888 » Wed Oct 18, 2006 2:14 pm

Tiffany wrote:
We are asking you to prove generalizations about a country. You are asking Em to prove that she loves her citizenship - a statement which is not a generalization, but rather a personal feeling about herself, no judgement involved.

I can't prove that I love my husband. This is a personal feeling. I can't prove that I love Italy and America - these are also personal feelings.


And how do you know Pope Benedict XVI is a Nazi? I hope you are not confusing Nazism with just being German...


I never expected you to be able to prove a feeling. It was just an example of how you are both so quick to say that if you dont have a study as proof than it isnt true.

You never said anything about the other claims though: she claimed that my gripes wtih america were based on my opinions and not fact. her entire defense of america is also based on bollocks. She goes on as if she is holier than thou, but yet she has nothing to back up her claims of how great america is. If you are going to cruxify me because I claim that America isnt as well off as some other countries how can you stand there and say things like:

<<No, the U.S. is not perfect, and I don't consider it "blasphemy" if someone criticizes it. Your generalization about the American response to criticism is just that--a generalization. There are few countries in the world in which citizens are more openly critical of their government than this one.

It is indeed possible to love a country and still recognize that it is not perfect. That is why we have elections, and that is why we have protest marches. People continue to strive to create something better.>>

This paragraph is just re-gurgatation of the propaganda that is streamed out in every hollywood film, every american classroom and every news channel in the country. Baseless bollocks that no one can prove, yet what everyone believes without question. If you believe what she wrote without any type of proof, why is it so hard to believe any part of what i wrote?

About Pope Benedict XVI: <<In his memoirs, Ratzinger wrote that he was enrolled in the Hitler Youth movement when he was 14 in 1941>>.

Here is a kind caring person who is head of millions of catholics worldwide. However, because he was enrolled in the Hitler Youth (thus making him a member of the party), would you say that the Nazi's were kind caring people? I dont think so! Why? Because the vast majority of party were evil, corrupt, and murderous. So when you use those words to describe Nazis you are generalising, but this is a generalisation that is correct because it describes the vast majority.

The vast majority of Americans (79%) are Christian. To say America is a Christian nation is also correct. Any other statement is avoiding the obvious and pretending.

<<Is generization necessary? Why? Can't you live your life without them? Just because it's readily acceptable to Society, does not make it necessary.>>


I will take back every one of my statements if you can honestly tell me that you have never in your life found it necessary to generalise and have in fact never made a generalisation, even when it met 99,9% of the population. You cant because every human does it every day of their life.
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Postby Em » Wed Oct 18, 2006 4:42 pm

True, Jpp888, we all generalize, but we should strive not to do so. If I have done so, I will attempt to correct it here. -- The U.S. may or may not be the most liberal in terms of accepting and permitting divergent points of view. I can only state definitively that in my own experience, I have not been prohibited, in this country, from stating my opinion in public or in private, whether it is in agreement or in disagreement with the prevailing political, religious, etc. power. Other countries may be equally liberal. I don't have sufficient information to make that determination.

Now isn't that statement better than my earlier one? It is also more accurate, and that is why we should avoid generalizations. I will give you some additional examples to clarify.

I would first like to state that I am glad you recognize that it is impossible to provide "evidence" that I value my American citizenship. That was not clear in your earlier posting, and it was an inane suggestion, as even you acknowledge. That is why I never asked you to provide evidence of the disdain you profess for your American citizenship.

Regarding Nazi Germany and generalizations--most would concede that based on historical evidence, the Nazi-controlled government in Germany carried out an extermination policy targeting Jews and other groups it deemed "undesirable". That is historical fact, but a more complete discussion of this bleak period in German history would also acknowledge that some (perhaps many--I can't be sure) Germans, most of whom were members of the Nazi party, did not support that policy and actively tried to help those who were victimized.

As far as the Pope is concerned, his membership in the Nazi Youth Movement proves only that he was a member in the Nazi Youth Movement. It provides no evidence of his beliefs concerning government policy. To imply otherwise is to make an assumption of fact without evidence.

Certainly studies of recent elections may show, based on exit surveys and pre-election polls, that more registered Republicans vote for a conservative slate than do registered Democrats, but that does not negate the fact that there are liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats. Are the surveys and polls wrong? Possibly, but they may also be accurate, although they do convey incomplete information.

When I was a **** in college, I read a book for my Statistics class (that is undoubtedly no longer in print). It was entitled How to Lie with Statistics Since then, I tend not to be impressed by quoted statistics, which can easily be manipulated to prove almost anything.

IMO, that is why generalizations do a disservice and should be avoided whenever possible. Can you not concede that it is preferable to simply state the facts rather than to resort to facile generalizations that present only a partial, and sometimes inaccurate, picture? So many writers of history books are guilty of doing just that, and that is why we grew up believing inaccuracies about the Pilgrims, American Indians, the reasons for the Civil War, etc. It is why "witches" were hanged in Salem and "communists" were blacklisted during the McCarthy hearings.

In your attempt to demonstrate the logic of your position, you have written of Nazis, Republicans, and Democrats, but you seem to have forgotten the assertion you made that began this "discussion." You stated initially that when the majority of the people believe or act in a specific way, it is the norm. You then assert that it is the norm for Americans to become angry when someone criticizes their country. How can anyone accept this statement as having validity just because you say it is true? How do you have access to information about more than 150 million people (half our population), or do you consider your anecdotal comments to be sufficient evidence? What you are, in effect, doing is perpetuating a stereotype based on your own observations and perceptions.

I said "It is indeed possible to love a country and still recognize that it is not perfect," and you labelled that "propaganda." Are we to assume, then, that you believe it is only possible to love a "perfect" country? I hope you find your utopia; IMO, it doesn't exist.

May I suggest again that you read the Princeton University discussion on faulty logic. Either you have not yet done so, or you fail to recognize the problems with the methods you use in your arguments.

I will take back every one of my statements if you can honestly tell me that you have never in your life found it necessary to generalise and have in fact never made a generalisation, even when it met 99,9% of the population. You cant because every human does it every day of their life.


"Every, "never" "never" "every" "every day of their [sic] life" You DO tend to speak in absolutes--all or nothing--no shades of gray for you. It is the kind of thinking that makes it impossible for me to continue this discussion. You may believe what you wish.

BTW using such terms as "bollocks" does nothing to increase your credibility.
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Postby Tiffany » Thu Oct 19, 2006 1:01 am

Lui vuole categorizzare, stereotipire e generalizzare. Prima o poi, degli stereotipi vengono il senso di superiorità e di inferiorità. È solo natura umana. È colpa nostra, Em. Non ci dobbiamo aspettare che lui desideri essere migliore.

È inutile. Lascialo stare.
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Postby Em » Thu Oct 19, 2006 7:15 am

E' proprio vero, Tiffany. Grazie
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Postby jpp888 » Thu Oct 19, 2006 10:01 am

I actually wrote out a long reply, both arguing my position and saying in some points that you are correct and I agree with you.

However, then I read the bit you wrote in Italian and decided not to bother. If you want to take a high and mighty position, then fine. If you want to think that you are not human and that you view the world in such a great way because you never jump to conclusions and never judge then you can keep on believing that. My only suggestion to you is that you need to take a look at the real world and be around some real people before you can make any judgements on how the world works and how people act. You dont learn these things sitting in a classroom in Princeton.
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Postby Em » Thu Oct 19, 2006 2:32 pm

True, you don't learn about life at Princeton--you don't learn about life at any university. BUT you do learn about logic. It really is an excellent article, and I use it frequently with my students, both to help them formulate their own arguments and to evaluate the arguments of others.

But I don't live in a Princeton University classroom; I live in the real world as you do, and I suspect we are about the same age (though, forgive me if I'm making you older than you are :D ) Our experiences in life certainly affect the way we view the workings of the world, and everyone's experience is different. So why should we be surprised that our view of the world is also different?

Try not to take offense. I think I speak for Tiffany as well when I say we don't consider ourselves to be perfect. Nor do we consider Americans (or America) to be perfect. We were simply annoyed at what we perceived to be an unfair rush to judgment about the character of Americans, since we both ARE Americans and don't recognize ourselves or our friends in your description.
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Postby jpp888 » Thu Oct 19, 2006 5:53 pm

Em wrote:True, you don't learn about life at Princeton--you don't learn about life at any university. BUT you do learn about logic. It really is an excellent article, and I use it frequently with my students, both to help them formulate their own arguments and to evaluate the arguments of others.

But I don't live in a Princeton University classroom; I live in the real world as you do, and I suspect we are about the same age (though, forgive me if I'm making you older than you are :D ) Our experiences in life certainly affect the way we view the workings of the world, and everyone's experience is different. So why should we be surprised that our view of the world is also different?

Try not to take offense. I think I speak for Tiffany as well when I say we don't consider ourselves to be perfect. Nor do we consider Americans (or America) to be perfect. We were simply annoyed at what we perceived to be an unfair rush to judgment about the character of Americans, since we both ARE Americans and don't recognize ourselves or our friends in your description.



I agree, and of course everyone sees the world differently, and that is in fact what makes it so interesting.

There are a number of reasons I left america forever but the major one was becuase of how closed minded to the outside world the vast majority of Americans tend to be. However, also in a majority of cases, whether one talks to a university professor or a factory worker they feel so strongly of the fact that 'America is the best country in the world' that they wont even listen to any arguments to the contrary. Yes this is my experience, but anyone who has lived in America has to admit that people who criticise America or the American way of life are usually looked down upon. This is reflected again and again whether it is French wine sales dropping 30% because of a boycott due to French criticism of america's stance on Iraq or Charlie Chaplin being banned from entering the US because his left wing views were deemed anti-american. It is completely fair if you dont agree with the strength of my conviction, but you must admit that there are many documented cases of such retaliations happening.

Was it wrong for me to generalise? Yes. However, if a generalisation which is meant to describe a majority of people is made, then the minority will of course also be thrown into this pot.

I am in a similar situation as the one I maybe put you in (?). People assume that since I was born and raised in america I act and think a certain way. Judging by the hundreds of americans that I either see here on holiday or have contact with through work, I can see where most of these assumptions (generalisations) come from, even though they dont describe every last one of the 300 million people!

However, although they may even briefly describe the other 200-some million, they do not describe me. But since I think that many of these generalisations are well founded, it does not offend me in any way that they assume I am like the others.

I think this is the one point where we differ on opinion so much. I dont identify with the people, the place or the entire american mentality. It is not me. And since I dont think or act like 90%+ of americans, it means I am not american. Just because I have a US passport it doesnt make me american, and an Italian passport wont make me an Italian!

I think you take the other view that even though you dont think or act like the majority you are still one of them, just different. I can understand this and so I see why you would take offense in my 'generalisation' of americans.

However I only hope that you also understand that if you willingly accept to embrace something that you must take the criticism as well as the praise with an open mind and good humour. My criticism was at the system and society as a whole, not every last individual in it.
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Postby Em » Thu Oct 19, 2006 10:36 pm

I'm glad we can end this discussion in a civil manner although we still obviously disagree. I do want to clarify one thing. It is this statement with which I disagree:

I think you take the other view that even though you dont think or act like the majority you are still one of them, just different. I can understand this and so I see why you would take offense in my 'generalisation' of americans.


You see, I don't think my way of thinking is like the thinking of a minority of Americans. IMO the stereotypical "ugly American" is in the minority. But I guess we know different people.
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Postby jpp888 » Fri Oct 20, 2006 6:43 am

Fair enough. I suppose we can agree to disagree!
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