Cris Mooney
A Personal
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"Of course, that's just my opinion, and I may be full of shit"
- Dennis Miller -

Since this opinion was considered in great detail, it will be difficult to change my mind. However, it's not impossible. I am always open to reason. I welcome thoughtful, logical, response.

Recorded April 13, 1996 - Updated June 23, 1998 


I believe that generalizations are very dangerous, since they lead to "pre-judgement" (prejudice).

The problem is that quite often generalizations result in unfair treatment of individuals. Sometimes this is relatively harmless, like an inappropriate look, or being called names. However, it may be as serious as murder. Most often, the situation lies somewhere in between, damaging, but not dramatic enough be a clear problem, thus infractions continue unchecked.

The heart of this issue is that it is rare that any category entirely defines each one of its individuals. People are far to complex too assume that if they share any one feature, then they also share another. Simply because someone shares one attribute with a bunch of other people, or even a group of attributes, this does not imply that these individuals share any other attribute.

What misleads people is that generalizations are often correct. Quite frequently, most of the members of a group will be the same in many aspect(s). For example, most males like watching football. This is, almost certainly, a fact. If you were to take a poll, you would invariably find that somewhere between 51 and 100 percent of males enjoy watching football. Thus, to say "males" enjoy watching football is technically correct. Big deal.

Unfortunately, many people fail to keep in mind the former statement (each member of a group is individual), when applying the later consideration (generalizations are correct). Such people will hear one say males like watching football, which is true as a generalization, and will treat this as a statement about all males. Of course theirs would be a legitimate interpretation of the statement, which is at best an ambiguous statement, thus the speaker is at fault.

This failure to remain objective is the foundation for prejudice. Quite often people will assume that simply because the majority of people in a group have some attribute, then all others do as well. They will take a valid generalization and apply it to individuals in the group. Since an individual may not have the expected attribute(s), this often results in inappropriate treatment of the individual. And for what good reason?

Everyone should remember that they can usually find individuals in a group that are in some ways more like individuals in another group. For example, there are many men who don't like to watch football. In this respect, they are closer to average women, the majority of whom choose not to watch football. Thus, you have no right to treat all men as if they like to watch football, because you will eventually treat someone incorrectly.

Despite the fact that one may understand the issue, they are still obliged to avoid leaving ambiguity in their statements, since they will invariably be misinterpreted and contribute to the problem. To leave their statements ambiguous is to add to a known problem, and thus to become part of the problem. Specifically, if you do not say MOST white males like watching football, and forcefully remove the ambiguity which is known to cause problems, then you are propagating prejudicial attitudes. But even such a statement is of questionable value, so why say it?

To make matters worse, to further simplify their generalizations many apply labels, which aggravate this issue in a circular fashion further discussed here.

People should actively draw attention to this issue in daily life to help thwart the problem. This means not only avoiding ambiguous generalizations, but pointing them out to others who make them. It is important to pay special attention to generalizations based on outward appearance, like race, sex, size, dress, hair, and speech, since these are the major problems in today's society (though political and religious groupings, as well as sexual preference, are right up there).

Unfortunately, many will not like your criticism, since they are inappropriately proud, or unable to reason, so you must try and be positive. Despite the resistance you will encounter, I believe it is worth your effort. 

The Standard Reply

The most common response I get when confronting individuals with this line of reason is: "understanding and accepting the differences between groups of people helps me deal with them, which is more efficient". This sort of claim would be used to validate claims like "I've learned that men like to watch football" or "I've learned to ignore women a few days a month" - Junkies and Bitches.

Unfortunately, this idea is almost usually applied to categorize people, rather than understand them. Under the guise of "better understanding them", they tend to forget each member of a group is individual and apply some generalization - in the end failing to understand people! Instead of understanding, they invalidate.

But guess can understand people, without having to categorize them! Moreover, as long as one categorizes people, they will never understand them, they will only mistreat them.

There is little value (easily offset) in recognizing that "most males like football" - holding this attitude quickly leads to mistreatment of males who do not like football, and of women who do like to watch football. The only valuable understanding is to recognize that many people like football. If one recognize that instead, then they will understand when any individual wants to watch football. This method has no drawbacks, and almost as many advantages. Most importantly the idea that does not get applied until you know the person, until you know they like watching football.

What is important to remember is that generalizations are only valuable when applied to individuals you do not know; to pre-judge them. Once you know an individual, there is no need for generalizations! However, since humans are a complex varied bunch, it is a complete gamble to extrapolate anything about them until you know them, and thus the generalizations are inherently useless and flawed.
Luckily "understanding" and dealing appropriately with individuals who fit a stereotype without having to get to know them.
Unluckily "misunderstanding" and mistreating individuals who do not fit a stereotype.
Benefit Loss
Dealing appropriately with all individuals.
You have to take the time to get to know each person.

Given these considerations, it seems clear to me that I have no right to use prejudice just to simplify my life, at the probable expense of others.

Since I reject holding prejudicial attitudes, I can see no value to a statement like "males like football". Or closer to home and obviously idiotic, "long haired guys want to buy weed". I see no upside to such ideas, and very clearly see that such statements can only lead to bad thinking and actions (frankly I am tired of being asked if I want to buy some weed by random people that I do not know at all.) I stand staunchly against such statements.

On the other hand, I applaud individuals coming to the realization that some people like to watch football. Deal with it! Cause my name is Cristan, and  (he/she) loves football!