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Let's examine Dumb generalizations. Why do intelligent people use them?

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posted on Oct, 29 2012 @ 02:01 PM
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We all use generalizations in daily life. I will not say that they are totally invalid. I will say that they are an impromptu way of getting your head around a subject so as to decide on it in a moment's notice. They should only be employed before a concise study can be done.

The trouble is that we settle for their judgment after once applying their general and all encompassing arguments as sound ones. We tend to believe that they are our own judgment when in fact they are usually handed to us prepackaged and already self explained.

We can live amongst a culture or trend and because we once, before we had any idea about them really we generalized about them, we then deny ourselves a deeper look because that would challenge a belief we forged in a few minutes. A life time of belief for an opinion forged in a couple of 60 second intervals. Think about that.

So I would challenge everyone to look over your beliefs if based on generalizations since generalizations can only be true to limited points of view. Which is why they are usually not accepted. Exceptionalism is never true, and usually leads to logical fallacies about who you really are and what you really are capable of /and others.

If your neighbor falls under a generalization you have made, please re-examine it since you might be completely off base. You would argue against generalizations of you and your culture, group, or sub cultural classification.

Why then would you hold a lifelong belief of people you would argue against in your own situation?

Stereo types are easy to fall into. They tend to make critical thinking easy with all sorts of short cuts. They do you a disservice. You need to take people on a case by case basis. This is not always possible, which is why I say that some generalizations are valid, all be it, for a temporary assessment of a situation. They tend to stick in our mind as sound judgment though, which is why they are so dangerous and misleading.




Here are some examples I would like to see people educate themselves on. They are not what this thread is about though if you want to touch on them I would think it valid. Any example of a generalization, stereotype, either good or bad should be deconstructed and seen for what they represent really. Human nature being seen and an explanation being extrapolated incorrectly by us.



-Most Americans on a whole think their country is the greatest country in the world.
No, in rural areas you find that mentality. It is direct contrast to the HUGE progressive culture in the US. Liberal culture is not in line with that belief and represents more than half of the US, so no. Hype and lies.

-Most Asians are good at math.
Some maybe. Their parents are stricter when it comes to education and by demanding more of them they become good students in general. I have known Asian kids growing up, or at least saw them looking out their windows very sadly because they had home homework after school their parents gave them. They also had insane study hours and that was in the US, imagine in their parents' home countries.

-Most Europeans are smelly.
A stereo type because of the hygiene craze that you must shave every part of your body and shower twice a day. Once is enough and a little body hair is sexy


-Most southERN Americans are dumb.
No, the immigration we see in our countries is not representative of their home countries. They are usually the most needy, lacking basic living amenities at home, and more so lacking in education.

-Most people from Asia have violent tempers.
No, this is a cultural misunderstanding. They speak loudly and sometimes are very emotional, but would not touch you.

-Most people from Africa are tribal savages.
Just not true. In poverty stricken countries maybe, but give them infrastructure and they would be a second Shang hai continentally.

-Most tribal society is savage and backwards, that enlightenment and higher thought is implausible for them.
It is sometimes quite the contrary.

Ect.

There are so many ways these are wrong but the one I take most issue with, which was the reason I made this thread, is the Americans spouting our exceptionalism. Just not true. With the amount of liberal and progressive culture in the US it is just absurd to use the rally cry of less than half of the US (conservative half) that might use this as an ideology, and that in rural areas at best.


edit on 29-10-2012 by manykapao because: (no reason given)




posted on Oct, 29 2012 @ 02:51 PM
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Originally posted by manykapao
-Most south(ern) Americans are dumb.


Fixed that for you.



-Most people from Asia have violent tempers.


I've honestly never heard that. I used to live in a place that had lots of Asians, and for the most part, they seemed pretty quiet and subdued.


-Most people from Africa are tribal savages.


That's just racism there.

That said, you answered your own question earlier -- people use generalizations as shorthand, though if they allow it to drive their decision making, it can tend toward bigotry, even if some generalizations do have some basis in fact.



posted on Oct, 29 2012 @ 02:59 PM
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Are you against all generalizations, or just the dumb ones?



posted on Oct, 29 2012 @ 03:00 PM
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I think we tend to jump to conclusions about people and use stereotypes to label them, because it's how our brain likes to organize information.

It's simpler to catagorize people like that for our minds. Unfortunatley these generalizations are usually not positive ones. This is because negative generalizations are easier to rememmber and draw upon more powerful, readily available emotions.

So, to sum it up: People use generalizations and stereotypes because our brain is wired to organize information that way. We tend to lean to the side of negative stereotypes because they pull at stronger emotions.



posted on Oct, 29 2012 @ 03:07 PM
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reply to post by manykapao
 


Generalisations are used to overlook detail. For example Politicians rarely talk to the populus in detail on any subject but in their cabinet room will go into detailed debates with other politicians. Thererin lies the reason generalisations are use at certain target groups. Some times generalisations are used for other reason, as for example when something is really hard to understand so to make it simplier. The use of generalisations is a form of filter of words. The question is when is generalisations appropriate to use and when not?
edit on 29-10-2012 by AthlonSavage because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 29 2012 @ 03:13 PM
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Generalizations refer to common tendancies amongst a group.

They do not refer to ALL the members of that group, they refer to a majority (over 50 %) , and are useful for examination about beliefs, values, practices, and other cultural phenomenon, and how they influence the behavior and attitudes of people.

Whenever you face an individual, it is wise to keep those generalizations in check, and stay aware that this individual might not be included in that majority.

We all have bias, I am not sure it is possible to be completely free of them in ones perception.
I definately believe though, that we are better equipped to step out of them when we have been honest with ourselves that they exist in our thought patterns. Denial makes them less controllable.
They get applied subconsciously, which tends to cause even more problems in relating to others.

The kind of study in which generalizations become relevant are many. But one that many people might be able to relate to is in the contemplation of how one wants to educate their children.
In analyzing "should I teach them to value red more than blue, or blue more than red?"
You can look at cultures which value red over blue, (or vice versa) and track the tendancies of that group that are correlated with that value.

Correlation, not causation, because it becomes, over generations, a chicken and egg type of problem- do they generally eat more blue fruit because their culture dictates blue is better, or do they hold the color blue as better than red because they have a taste preference for blue fruit?

But whether it started with one or the other, if adopted by the culture, it will become self reproducing that way anyhow. So it is helpful to ask yourself- if I teach my kids blue is better than red, and we do not have blue fruit growing here, (only red) then eventually we will have a large demand for blue fruit and will have to get it from countries who have it growing there.

Anyone who reproduces, or takes part in the education of the younger members of the society or group, has some reason to study sociology and anthropology and social psychology.


edit on 29-10-2012 by Bluesma because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 29 2012 @ 03:57 PM
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More in depth, let me point out-

Some of your assertions just aren't clear (what is a "tribal savage"?)

Some I not only have never heard, but have only heard the opposite (asians have violent tempers?? They talk loud and are very emotional?? Most asian cultures are known for the opposite- being extremely low key and un-demonstrative of their emotions...)

Some just don't make sense ("southern americans" refers to immigrants??? What.....?)

Some I think you are just wrong (like europeans being often smelly- there is a large movement of thought here that using soap is bad for your skin (dries it too much) and that anti-persperant is bad for your health (your body needs to rid itself of toxins through the sweat). Unfortunately many people pick that up without applying the other part of that practice, which IS a couple of showers a day. )

A recent poll found that 1 french person out of 5 does not take a shower every day!
Source

The hair thing is false, but WAS based upon a reality in the past- soldiers in WW2 showed up when french people had no running water and their country was rubble. They weren't shaving. Soldiers took note of that.
Now they wax their entire bodies and since nudism is so popular, that often includes men.

As an example of another generalized belief that is no longer true, but has it's roots in reality-

The belief that foriegners dream of coming to live in the US did have a base in reality of the past. In it's earlier years, the American dream was really whatever anyone wanted it to be- America was just forming and potential was wide open. As it formed, solidified and the results began to show, the interest waned.



posted on Oct, 29 2012 @ 05:08 PM
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reply to post by Bluesma
 


I think I get what you are saying. Let me see if this is correct?

Generalizations pertain to a majority (over 50%) of a population subset.

Stereotypes pertain to a minority of a population subset.

Both originally had their roots based on some factual information, but times, cultures and people change.

I can agree with that 100%.

I think another angle to examine is that people don't like to feel alone and not included with a group. It's easier to find a group you identify with and point fingers at the other groups. Humans tend to act like pack animals, and subsequently fall victim to "group think". If your group condems Muslims, lets say, you're going to go along with that belief to maintain a part of the group.



posted on Oct, 29 2012 @ 05:13 PM
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I recall once saying, : "generalizations are like absolutes, in that they shouldn't be taken all too seriously".

The point is that while they may hold a kernel of truth, they're never the whole shebang.

Generalizations are mere convenience, and allow us to attempt to sum up the essence of a complex situation, but also allow us to negate pertinent facts if we're not so wise.

So they're not inherently good or bad, rather it depends on how we use them.

I like to follow up a generalization with a few specifics to poke at how their are holes in it. This approach seems to save a lot of time than just listing off a bunch of details.

Zoom in, zoom out, but always be searching for more. . .



posted on Oct, 30 2012 @ 02:33 AM
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Originally posted by MystikMushroom
reply to post by Bluesma
 


I think I get what you are saying. Let me see if this is correct?

Generalizations pertain to a majority (over 50%) of a population subset.

Stereotypes pertain to a minority of a population subset.


Not exactly, because I consider a "generalization" the same thing as a "stereotype".
The examples used by the OP, are both stereotypes and generalizations.




I think another angle to examine is that people don't like to feel alone and not included with a group. It's easier to find a group you identify with and point fingers at the other groups. Humans tend to act like pack animals, and subsequently fall victim to "group think". If your group condems Muslims, lets say, you're going to go along with that belief to maintain a part of the group.


Generalizations can be used in bonding rituals, and in creating/ sustaining a common shared enemy to pull a group together with.

This is where I consider it useful to consider and distinguish stereotypes and generalizations from propaganda!

One way I like to go about that is when someone expresses an idea that describes a cultural characteristic of a specific peoples, I ask to find out if they got this conclusion on their own (from direct experience) or from others or the media.

Useful also, is to take off the moral judgment and analyze neutrally what is left.

Claiming certain countries are an "axis of evil"- take out the evil and there is nothing left of this- it doesn't describe anything in particular. It is only an emotional button pusher. Propaganda.

Looking deeper into stereotypes to understand where they come from, why there is this tendancy, I find really fascinating, because most of the time there is a slight misunderstanding about the inner motivations and intents- exactly because of the differing culture.

Like it could be said by one peoples that another has no self control- because they burp at the meal table.

Look deeper and you find that it is not that they have no self control, but rather, they make effort to burp at the table because that is a part of their traditional rules of politess!

They could come to the conclusion that the other (non-burping) people are totally rude and don't care at all about showing gratitude to their host (which is also mistaken).

The accurate sterotypes of each are that they burp, or don't burp, at the table... the false part is the assumed explanation behind those!

I will enthusiastically agree that often the explanations and inner motivations foriegners come up with about stereotypes or generalizations are often false!!!

That stands for assumptions between individuals as well, if you do not know the deeper morals and values of the individual- imagining yourself "in their shoes" to guess what motivates them often doesn't work if you are from a very different background.

To get to know their inner motivations that way, you'd have to spend a long time really gathering a lot of knowledge of their culture, values, morals, and education.





Here's an example of one I experienced-
When I first moved to France, I was shocked and hurt at the way some people close to us would criticize me.
They would say right off, "you look pale, do you feel okay?" or "You look like you have gained some pounds!" or "that dress doesn't suit you."

In my culture, you dont do this. You only say nice things. If someone crosses that line it is because they want to hurt your feelings or make you feel bad. I could not understand why people like my family in law wanted to hurt me!

My explanation for their behavior was mistaken- in their culture, such comments are made to make you feel loved and cared for. They are supposed to show that the speaker is paying careful attention to you, in every detail, and wil be attentive to any hint you are in need of anything or don't feel well. It is a way of showing affection and support- the complete opposite of what I had guessed!

But the stereotype that the french do not hesitate to criticize is accurate! WHY is the part that is worth discovering.
edit on 30-10-2012 by Bluesma because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 30 2012 @ 02:44 AM
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Many of the generalisations have their roots in European colonialism. You even use the words savages.. We as the civilised Europeans would go to all corners of the earth and civilise the native savages, steal their resources and make them work for us. These stereotypes have just worked themselves through our cultures.

I guess what happens today is just an extension of those days. Look how peopl describe rioters in the middle east or people like the Taliban.

It's certainly easier to justify the killing of people you deem to be less than human and has been a tactic used in most wars.



posted on Oct, 30 2012 @ 12:29 PM
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I.DON'T.SMELL.



posted on Oct, 30 2012 @ 01:13 PM
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There is two sides to it IMO ...

On one hand I think many stereotypes and generalisations are extentions of ignorance and a lack of willingness to understand. Examples:

- Liberals are just obamabots who can't read
- Conservatives are just religious freak dinosaurs
- Homosexuals want to push their cause down my throat and destroy the family unit
- Islamic people are all violent whilst pretending not to be
- All Americans are self important jerks

It works in positive ways as well. Sometimes statistics even back it up, like 'more scientists are Atheist' or 'X people are smarter than Y' people but can still be misused. (There was a thing recently actually asking why Liberals reject the idea that some races could be genetically superior which is a good example)

But even implying that Conservatives are more likely to generalise is a bit off. Even when a person generalizes or labels against themselves they're wrong half the time. They say they're Catholic and they're actually a Protestant. They say they're a feminist and they're actually a 'humanist'.

I think the reverse problem is when persons want everyone to be precise and exact about everything. Everyone has had it on ATS when you say something like 'I freaking LOVE banana smoothies!' and then a person comes in and says ... 'yes, but some banana smoothies taste like my pants.' (Cue Rocky man-battle montage. Sorry is your avatar!)

I think the biggest problem is that life runs out. We only have so much time. Sometimes I wish we were all aweso psychic creatures that could share exactly what we are as individuals in seconds rather than having to define ourselves in boundaries and groups. I actually think the internet has made it worse ...

We can look up so much information almost immediately these days but how many persons can put their hand up and say they use it to meet people with different beliefs and generalisations rather than reinforce what they already think?

In my country we have had racist facebook groups created by police for example! Typical human race thing ... given a tool to connect and exchange information at amazing speed ... first put nakkie pictures on it, then draw lines and seperate people into groups for arguments and conflict.


Too long version: generalisations can be bad but generalisations about banana smoothies are awesome
edit on 30-10-2012 by Pinke because: Smoothies



posted on Oct, 30 2012 @ 01:22 PM
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Good question, I have often wondered that myself. If you ask me, anyone who makes a generalization is an idiot.



posted on Oct, 30 2012 @ 01:27 PM
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Stereotyping is more complicated than most people understand.

It is a troubleshooting mechanism key to survival.

We need to think on the fly in a fight or flight situation and stereotypes help us resolve an issue faster and safer than if we sat and weighed the pros and cons.

A question I would ask is why not stereotype? If we know generalizations are not 100% then what's the harm in making them for the sake of problem solving or discussion or whatever?

Only a complete imbecile operates believing stereotypes to be 100% irrefutable facts but stereotypes and generalizations are useful tools.

Where would election polls be without stereotypes? Where would Obamas campaign be without generalizations such as "minorities vote Democrat" and "homosexuals hate Republicans"?

Neither are entirely true nor entirely false but both generalizations shape politics the world over.

There are a million ways to make meatloaf. If I love meatloaf will I love each variation? Probably not. But it's a grand pointless waste of time to go around quantifying every little statement.

Here's a pretty basic intro:phys.org...
edit on 30-10-2012 by thisguyrighthere because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 30 2012 @ 01:52 PM
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Everyone is guilty of generalizing. Some generalizations are simply from laziness. Like if someone says all lawyers are assholes they know not all of them are but coming up with an example of one that isn't is too much work!!!



posted on Oct, 30 2012 @ 02:18 PM
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Originally posted by Pinke
There is two sides to it IMO ...

On one hand I think many stereotypes and generalisations are extentions of ignorance and a lack of willingness to understand. Examples:

- Liberals are just obamabots who can't read
- Conservatives are just religious freak dinosaurs
- Homosexuals want to push their cause down my throat and destroy the family unit
- Islamic people are all violent whilst pretending not to be
- All Americans are self important jerks



OMG, I guess I haven't been exposed to ideas like this.. or my mind blocked them out automatically because they sound so stupid, I don't know... but they sound absolutely ridiculous!

But what if they were worded more intelligently?

Like
Most Liberals are supporters of Obama, and of the less educated portion of the population.

A majority of Conservatives are elderly and holding on to out of date ideals and values.

Most homosexuals are motivated by a desire to force our society to consider homosexuality as normal and acceptable, and destroy much of the older traditional, limited, thought about family.

-Many Islamics believe it is sometimes necessary and acceptable to use dishonest appearences to carry out what they feel is right by Allah.

Many americans do not accept criticism from others easily, and feel it important to show their successes.

Now, I think some of these could be wrong, some right- but they could be studied and proven wrong or right!
Simply changing the vulgar words to more precise ones makes all the difference.

If you can get past the button pusher terms and look at the real idea they refer to, there is some meat to consider.



posted on Oct, 30 2012 @ 09:20 PM
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Even if they were trial, so what? are you saying that your urban ways are better than their natural tribal ways? Tribal does not mean stupid and even if all Africans WERE tribal it would only be your biases which would make you see them as inferior



posted on Oct, 31 2012 @ 10:36 AM
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Originally posted by Bluesma
OMG, I guess I haven't been exposed to ideas like this.. or my mind blocked them out automatically because they sound so stupid, I don't know... but they sound absolutely ridiculous!


Teach me! Teach me your awesome talent! ahaha


But what if they were worded more intelligently? (sic) If you can get past the button pusher terms and look at the real idea they refer to, there is some meat to consider.


Sooooooort of!

Though I think a lot of the time, persons who use this type of generalsing don't really want to investigate or see if their claims or false. I very rarely see someone with these type of sweeping statements willing to sit down and discuss them in a nice manner. I've tried a few times, and in my whole life I've only had the conversations a few times that weren't just rhetoric or with statements like 'I don't trust statistics' or 'it's subconcious, you don't know you're doing it'.

I do think some generalisations are needed though, even some of the kind of offensive ones. Just when you're talking directly to a person from that demographic a person should have common decency to give the person the benefit of the doubt till proven otherwise I think!



posted on Oct, 31 2012 @ 10:42 AM
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Such collectivist thinking leads to a failure of logic that limits perception.Not all new Black Panthers are alike.We aren't being attacked by Muslims just factions and so on.Lumping any group into the same mold is ,at its core, the root of prejudice.It is a method of dehumanization usually fell back upon when someone can't defend their point and has no ears for any counter point.





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