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Topic: Chapter 3--Everybody Counts
Replies: 11   Last Post: Mar 18, 1995 1:02 AM

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Michael Paul Goldenberg

Posts: 7,041
From: Ann Arbor, MI
Registered: 12/3/04
Re: Chapter 3--Everybody Counts
Posted: Mar 15, 1995 5:49 PM
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On Wed, 15 Mar 1995, Andrei TOOM wrote:

> On Tue, 14 Mar 1995, Michael Paul Goldenberg wrote:

> > to suspect that I'm reading you correctly here. If so, I have some questions
> > for you: if American education is so lousy (and I'm not suggesting that
> > it's not full of problems and in need of improvement) what made you come
> > here? And if your analysis of Americans is on the money, what country do
> > you think is above the criticism that it has many complacent citizens?

> Dear Michael:
> If there is a fire, people shout `there is a fire here'.
> They do not add `there is no fire at other places'.
> The job of intellectuals is to critisize,
> like the job of pain receptors is to inform what is wrong.
> If you feel your heart or liver or stomack, something is
> wrong with them, otherwise you do not feel them.
> All this has to be explained in non-democratic countries.
> (The example with the fire belongs to Dudintsev, a Russian dissident.)
> Now I see that same ideas have to be explained to somebody here also.
> Andrei Toom

But there is a world of difference between blanket statements about
American attitudes and American education, and constructive criticism
aimed at specific problems. I'm afraid that I've yet to meet the average
American, anymore than I have met the typical Russian. If these folks
live in your neighborhood, Andrei, could you send me a photo?

As to what needs to be explained to me, let's just say that I'm as
confident about my knowledge of this country, having lived here for
nearly 45 years, as you probably are about mathematics. What's
interesting is that your expertise extends so much further than mine: you
not only are an expert on your own country, but on mine as well!
Your analogies presume that your perceptions of the difference between a
house on fire and a barbecue are invariably accurate. I'm just a little
skeptical of your infallibility as a social critic. Sorry that I can't
simply accept your opinions at face value, but that, too, is the job of
an intellectual.

-michael paul goldenberg/University of Michigan

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