In What Respect?

The American television personality Jimmy Kimmel made the following statement recently.

We were brought up to believe that we live in the greatest country in the world.

I am not going to criticize American nationalism.  Instead, the question is:  If it were true, how could we show that it was true?  And I am asking about this type of statement and not this particular statement.

Whenever someone says that something is better than something else, I immediately want to know this:  In what respect?

One individual can be more intelligent than another, say, but it does not make sense to say that someone is more than another.  Or that someone is the most.

And, obviously, superiority in some respects does not guarantee superiority in all respects.  The fact that the USA is the world’s greatest military power does not guarantee that it has the world’s best medical system, or the world’s greatest cuisine.

Furthermore, superiority on average does not guarantee superiority in every case.  If the average member of one group is more intelligent than another, it does not follow that a particular member of the former group is more intelligent than another.

People who make statements like Kimmel’s (without “We were brought up to believe that” appended at the front) demonstrate that they are not as good as they could be at reasoning.



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2 Responses to In What Respect?

  1. I have revised my last paragraph to avoid your criticism. But two points. My target was a particular kind of statement, not a particular television personality. And, people do say “I was raised to believe …” when they mean “I believe ….”

  2. CC says:

    I don’t think he said it WAS the greatest country in the world – only that they were brought up to believe it was.

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