Wherein I MUST correct someone who is mistaken

Often, I find myself in possession of bits of fact that others seem to trivialize.

I overheard a converstion today about the “Battle of the Ironclads”, often referred to as “the Monitor and the Merrimac”.

I couldn’t help myself.

“You see”, I interject, “the U.S.S. Merrimac was a Union vessel that was scuttled, reclaimed by the Confederates, rebuilt with armor plating, and re-named the C.S.S. Virginia.”

Some stare blankly, some say “Really? I didn’t know that.”, and some say that, since the US never recognized the CSA as an actual country, that the ship was never “really” the CSS Virginia.

My question is this…
Is Unca Cecil rubbing off on you? Do you find yourself unable to stop from jumping, uninvited, into converstations to correct someone? Or maybe just offer some helpful advice such as “Y’know… SNOPES.COM is a really great site for looking up stuff like that!”

Or is it just me?

That’s just pedantry. If you were a northerner, it was “the Monitor and the Merrimac” and that’s how the battle was referred to for years. There’s no reason to correct, any more than telling someone it’s not Bull Run; it’s Manassas. I would argue that, since the South lost the war, the Northern name for the battles should take precedence.

I don’t take as many opportunities to correct ignorance as I should. I’ve tried, believe me. But I encounter most of the ignorance in my workplace, and things there are stressful enough. People just don’t need me correcting them. And I just can’t lug all of my Straight Dope books to work. No room for them in my cubicle. :smiley:

But I do recommend snopes at every given opportunity. I get SO MUCH CRAP in my email at work, it’s ridiculous. Just last year, I got the Mrs. Field’s cookie recipe 10 times. In one week. :eek:

I’ve corrected the moron in the next cubicle a few times, and bitten my tongue many times more… I’ve passed Snopes to many many folk… And I spell better than anyone in the office, so I’m always butting into those conversations.

I’m prolly pretty insufferable… :smiley:

All my life, I’ve been the kind of person who could let no rhetorical question lie. Cecil just gave me more ammo. Sometime in college, I learned to ask “do you want to know the answer to that, 'cause I can tell you.” vs. just blurting out the answer.

I know how you guys feel–I have a professor in one class who stated that the Central Pacific RR built west from Kansas with Chinese labor. I almost went up after class, but, hey, this guy will probably be on my thesis committee, so why p*ss him off?

I bring great handfuls of pages I’ve printed off of Snopes to work with me. I like to observe urban legends in the wild but if I come across one in the flesh I have to stomp on its head until I’ve killed it.

I also possess an extensive mental armory of niggling little facts and I usually correct people when they say something I know is wrong. I try to fight the urge to do this because it really doesn’t help me out in the popularity department. But then my inner Cecil screams, “No! Your great knowledge must be SPREAD!” so I do it. Hey, I may be lonely but at least I’m right, Goddammit!

Me, too. And I resist the urge more times than I ask. Today two classmates were discussing our grad party and one says “you always do that”, the other says “for example?” the first mumbles “you just do, ask anyone”.
It was all I could do not to shout “Cite, please!”

Any why isn’t our trek to fight ignorance more appreciated by the masses?

I would like to think that if I had a dumbass attack and misspelled a word on a sign, for example, I would be very appreciative to the individual that brought it to my attention.

I can speak from personal experience, the non-Dopers would rather be ignorant…

Oh lord, I had this guy who had read that book that “scientifically disproves” evolution start in on me one night because he found out I’m a geologist and asked me if I believe in it, which of course I do. If only I had been where I could get to a computer, I would have printed out the many, many threads we’ve had on the subject and dump them in his lap and tell him to come back and talk to me when he’s learned a few things. As it was, I had to direct traffic, so I couldn’t really give it to him with both barrels, I just asked him if he had ever actually read any of the scientific literature. You can guess the answer to that question, and it pretty much ended the conversation.

And of course I respond to all email glurge and virus hoaxes with the appropriate link to either Snopes or SARC.


Bullshit, Chuck. I go back and forth on your posts. Often they’re insightful, and often they’re shit. This post certainly is. The Merrimack was burned and sunk by Union troops as they retreated. It was SALVAGE. The fact that the CSA used parts of the Merrimack in the construction of the Virginia is immaterial. The Monitor never fought the Merrimack, It fought the Virginia. Period, end of discussion. Arguing about the names given land battles is a straw man, not applicable at all.

Ye gads, I do this all the time. I really have to stomp on it, even my best friends have said, “yes, I know, you know everything…” while rolling their eyes. I do it so much I’m not even always aware of it.

Hey, it’s not MY fault I have a good memory and can retain so much trivial stuff! (What I really hate is when I’ve waxed know-it-all on someone and actually won the argument, later to find out that I was wrong… :o )


Sorry. I got lazy and didn’t want to type out the whole thing, and hoped that the TMs would know what I meant. It’s the Symantec AntiVirus Research Center, a very helpful resource, as it has a whole section on virus hoaxes.

Oh, I did this all the time even before I found the straight dope.

The problem was, whenever I corrected someone and pointed out that they were wrong and showed them the correct answer, they would come back with {Insert small niggling detail that I don’t know but they don’t either, and besides, it isn’t all that important to the subject}. And, when I say, “I don’t know that” , They say “Well, that just proves that your entire argument is invalid!”

And, when I say “Well, then just check {This Book}, or {That Book}, or if you don’t want to go to the library to look it up, check {List of official sites dedicated to the subject}”, they say “Well, the internet is a very bad source of information” and they change the subject.

Now, the straight dope means i know those little niggling details and the whole lose-lose preposition of the second half (they stay stupid and i get mad) is avoided.

I am with Maeglin on this one.

He is on record as saying that no-one appreciates a condescending pedant.

There are people who do not welcome those who have, or may have, an answer or an opinion which approaches a question from an alternative angle.

Received wisdom is not easily challenged, and it is sometimes necessary to be circumspect when addressing issues which, by their very nature, are going to be controversial.

all the time, to the extent that I have made enimies in work.

So, do we get to rename the Housatonic?



And after I posted, I realized that by that reasoning, Americans must say “Ho Chi Minn City” rather than Saigon.