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THURSDAY, APRIL 5, 2018 www.italoamericano.org L'Italo-Americano 2 P rejudices are easy to have: they are there, ready and packaged for us, and social culture is so imbued with them we often take them for granted and demonstrated, so much so they are not only normal to us, but even correct. At the same time, we often wonder why we never questioned them. Truth is that, unfortunately, they are more part of our nature than we think. Letting our own personal experiences influence and condition us is just as simple. One night we are out for dinner, the waiter is rude to us and we decide we'll never set foot in that restaurant again, even if the food is delicious. If the waiter happens to be a foreigner, then we'll probably start avoiding all of his country-people, even if we are aware that judging an entire nation on the basis of such a principle is ludicrous. Making a judgment is an inevitable and an extremely natural thing for a human being: it is a process the brain needs to catalogue the information it receives. Yet, it's not simple, because many parameters need to be taken into account. Even more difficult is getting rid of prejudices, because it would mean to go against a series of categorizations likely to be shared by our family, coworkers and community. And then, there are cases when the whole deal gets even more complicated because of some article, research or study that decides to transform opinions in judgments, the examined samples in truth. We know, however, reality doesn't work that way. Above all, for one main reason: two and two makes four only in maths. If two people are ugly and two are evil it doesn't mean the fifth, who belongs to the same social group, is bound to be ugly and evil. Those four people have traits that are not necessarily shared by all others. A statistic, whichever its origin, is bound to take into account some parameters instead of others and, because of this, it'll always be partial. It'll represent certain opinions, but not all opinions: the most prevalent will emerge, but that doesn't mean it's the only one. There is more. Data interpretation can change reality. If we say that 6 in 10 Italians have dark hair and brown eyes, it doesn't mean there aren't Italians who have blond, red and black hair, or green and blue Judgments and prejudices about Italy: let's think before sharing them From the director eyes. Nuances disappear, if we only read the overall result. What does this mean? Very simply, that we must be careful and always try to get deeper into a subject, especially when we're judging an entire nation. The picture of Italy given by US News and World Report Best Countries, in occasion of the World Economic Forum in Davos, isn't pretty and positions us rather low in the list. Well, let's think about it, before accepting it all at face value. There is no doubt plenty of things in Italy don't work as they should. Impossible to deny it, and it's ok to be told: when criticism is constructive, it's always welcome. However, we should be careful and avoid generalization, that is, we shouldn't take into consideration only certain parameters and not all the others, lest we obtain a partial and reductive vision of a country. Even more importantly,we should be careful not to turn opinion and judgment into an unchangeable label to define a nation: that would be a stereotype and it'd imply no evolution. Let's take the popular association between Italy and mafia. Of course we have mafia in Italy, but so do other countries in the world, yet this is barely discussed. And Italy is more than mafia: there are many people who are its victims, many who fight it and just as many who are quite simply not touched by it. This, also, is barely discussed. We got this horrible label stuck to us -especially abroad- as strongly as others, possibly more flattering but equally dolce vita, music, bel canto, fashion and design, Ferrari. Mind, these are all positive characteristics, but they are equally reductive: do we hear often about the important role and weight of Italy in scientific research, in manufacturing, in chemical and pharmaceutical production? And then: Italy is good food, sea and good weather. Do you ever stop and think Italy is mountains? Do you know that mountains and hills count for 3/4 of the Italian territory? How many times have we heard the equation "Italy means spaghetti?" But do you know Italy is home to at least another 200 types of commonly used pasta? Simple examples that, nevertheless, are sufficient to show how we tend to think when it comes to Italy and how careful we must be when reading a"photography" of the country. The source may be reputable, but results can sometimes be simplistic: what other parameters have been taken into account, and could they have counterbalanced that negative judgment? And lastly: are we really sure all the countries coming before ours in that list are better? Or should we stick to the old saying tutto il mondo รจ paese, the whole world is country, which, a bit more wisely, suggest that in the end truth lies somewhere in the middle? Simone Schiavinato, Director NEWS & FEATURES TOP STORIES PEOPLE EVENTS

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