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Above Average
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Garrison Keillor's characterization of the fictitious Lake Woebegon, where "all the women are strong, all the men are good looking and all the children are above average," has always struck my funny bone.

I've used the trope "all____are above average" many times as a figure of speech (who, me? exaggerate? surely you jest.) Can you say 'hyperbole'?

What astonishes me is not that my listeners don't get it on the first go round--it can slide right past in the flow of conversation, as so many statements do.

The truly astounding thing is that when it is brought to their attention (bell curve, etc.), they have no idea what I'm talking about--or, worse, argue with me that it is possible, saying that all___can indeed be above average.

Once in a while some smarty pants will point out that it could refer to a limited population (a classroom for gifted children, for instance) versus the population at large (the whole school or all the school age children in the country).

OK, I'll concede that point. But usually the person with whom I'm having the discussion doesn't understand the concept of "average". Even the ones who can give me a rough definition don't get how the "all above average" violates the very definition of average. And is therefore humorous.

What DO they teach in our schools? Not critical thinking, evidently.

I suspect it's how to memorize and regurgitate the right answer.

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