I DON'T BELIEVE THAT | When to Correct Others

At a recent, casual family gathering, my brother-in-law asserted that, "60% of all cattle in the state of Missouri are in Barry county." There are over 100 counties in Missouri, and while I have not been to every county yet, the ones that I have been in all had cows, so this statistic reeked of exaggeration to me. Like Larry David, I have no hesitation when I hear hogwash, so I spoke up and said, "I don't believe that. That seems way too high." After some dialogue, discussion and debate, we both pulled out our smart phones and raced to find information to support either his claim or my disbelief. No joy.

Later that night, I figured taking another run at finding some verified numbers would be good practice for me to refine my Google search skills. I tried a few more specific variations and eventually hit the mother load: National Agricultural Statistics Service.

There I found that...

  • Barry county = 83,000 cattle
  • Missouri = 4,150,000 cattle
  • Barry county = 2% of cattle in Missouri
  • Howell (93,000), Lawrence (100,000), and Polk (105,000) counties all have more cattle than Barry. Barry is 4th in the state.

Armed with my new facts, I had a couple of decisions to make. Should I correct my brother-in-law? If so, in what setting and how? On the one hand, his point was that Barry county had a lot of cattle, and it does. On the other, 2% is a far cry from 60%. And there is the whole matter of who was right.


Would you correct him? If not, why? If so, how? When is it appropriate to correct others and how should you go about doing it? Leave a reply and share your thoughts.