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Chapter and Verse

Correspondence on not-so-famous lost words

November-December 2015

George Wittenberg seeks the source of the assertion, “Sub-specialization is a form of protective coloration.”


“his error is himself” (May-June). Julian Kitay serendipitously came across the very quotation he wrote down in a lecture 67 years ago: “Why argue with any man’s error when it is his error that is he? As well seek to convince a cow that the most dazzling creature on earth is not a cow, or prove to a pig that the finest resident of our world is not a pig.” He is still trying to source it. In response to the original query, meanwhile, Joshua Koltun suggested, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it”—which Wikiquote attributes correctly to Upton Sinclair’s 1935 memoir of his candidacy for governor of California: I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked (repr. UC Press, 1994), page 109.


“A Jew is defined” (July-August). Michael Bohnen suggested Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits (1908-1992) as a source, citing an April 14, 2014, article (“The Hidden Message of the Four Children”) by Rabbi Avi Weiss in The Jewish, in which the Berkovits remark is offered as a sociological comment on the effect of assimilation. Bernard Witlieb cited an anecdote from Ronnie S. Landau, The Nazi Holocaust (2006), page 27: “One wit, who clearly had genuine insights into the social and familial values of the Jewish community, would later turn Hitler’s Nuremberg laws definition on its head and defined a ‘real Jew’ as anyone who has produced three Jewish grandchildren!”

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