On wrongness

I cannot handle people who claim black is white for the sake of an argument. Even if I know that they are just doing it to wind me up I cannot stop myself. Black is not white. (White may be the new black, but that’s an entirely separate conversation.)

Black is not white, 2+2 is not 3 and an orange is not an apple. How can you even say that it is? You know it is wrong and yet you’re still saying it! You know I know it’s wrong, I know you know I know it’s wrong, everybody else knows it’s wrong, so why, why, why would you say it?

As you may see, I don’t deal well with this kind of wrongness.

I’m not great at keeping my mouth shut about anything that someone has/says/does wrong but I do respect that everyone has a right to get things wrong by accident, mistake or having been mis-informed. You have a right to be wrong, as long as you’re not doing it on purpose to wind me up 🙂 And I’m working on being more tactful around accidental wrongness, despite my almost overwhelming instinct to leap in and correct it before anyone’s had a chance to draw breath.

I do wonder why I am so affected by this. Why can’t I just let it pass? It might be more understandable in some ways if I had this strong sense of outrage at moral and ethical wrongs, not these provable, simple, science-logic-and-maths kind of wrongs. Perhaps though it is because they are so simple that they elicit such a strong response. The difference between a right and a wrong answer to simple questions is something we learn very early in life. Not all children learn their colours at the same age but most adults have known the difference between black and white for most of their lives – knowledge like that, gathered early in life, helps us make sense of the world as we grow up in it. Learning simple truths like the difference between colours and words helps give us some rules to build on so that we can begin to make sense of the chaotic world we are born into and understand how to function in it. If you challenge those rules, which are the foundations of the understanding of the world I have today, perhaps I am reacting strongly because you are chipping at the underlying structure of my understanding of the world. Therefore if you persist in telling me black is white, I may forget how to understand the world, forget how to function in society and, as an unfortunate side effect, forget that it’s impolite to defend myself from your attack by punching you in the nose. Oops!


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