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Casual Conversations Turn Tense When Questions Are Raised

DEAR ABBY: Is it wrong to question some belief or fact that someone else has brought up? I'm not in the habit of picking fights or bringing up controversial topics in social situations. But if someone else brings it up first or makes a verifiable claim, I think I'm within my rights to ask for a source or to argue the point if I disagree.

I am being told that doing this is rude. I always thought that if someone makes a claim or statement, then it's acceptable for the people you are talking with to ask where the information came from or to disagree. And if someone doesn't want to risk their opinion being challenged, or isn't absolutely sure the claim can withstand scrutiny, they should keep their mouth shut. Is it rude to ask, "Oh, what's your source for that?" or say, "The studies I've read say that ..."? -- FRIENDLY DISCUSSION

DEAR FRIENDLY: I think it depends upon the subject being discussed and the tone in which the question is asked. Sometimes it ain't what you say as much as the way it comes across that makes others defensive.

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