Return to site

Generalisations are wrong

Confessions of a realistic Pollyanna

In logic problems we are given a number of scenarios and have to decide if they fit the criteria or not.  For instance, given four names, four flight times, four types of coffee, and four vegetables and just a bit of information about each, eventually you can figure out that Joe likes Starbucks coffee and carrots and his flight left at 2:15.  Mary likes cappuccinos, eats turnips and her flight leaves at 11:35.  Logic problems teach us how to reason, how to eliminate possibilities and use reason.  Other types of logic problems use statements such as all antelopes are mammals, some antelopes are brown, therefore all brown antelopes are mammals.  Generalisations help us say that this is indeed true.
It is understandable that people generalise. It makes the world easier to understand. But generalisations don't work for people.  For instance, I meet Joe. Joe is a rugby fan. Joe is a very nice fellow. Therefore are all rugby fans very nice fellows. The answer would be no. Some rugby fans will be women. While many might indeed be very nice, some might not be quite so nice. Therefore it is wrong to assume that all rugby players are very nice just because we met Joe. We just don't have enough information.
Stereotypes are also very often wrong. To assume that all people of Italian descent are very passionate is wrong. Some people will be, some won't. To assume that all left handed people are creative is also wrong. People are unique with their own gifts and abilities, challenges and foibles. I may be good at math, but that is not because of my genealogy but because it was a gift that I have been given. I am hopeless at putting together engines or building IKEA furniture because I have few talents in those areas, not because I am of a certain background.
Theologically, I see it this way. God created each one of us in God's image. God though is beyond our understanding. We are told God is the Alpha and Omega and that we can only understand God in part. We are created in God's image, but at the same time we are created all unique. No one is the exact duplicate of another. If we were, we would not need to be here. Each one of us bring something special to the world. 
The terror attacks in the recent weeks have scared many people. Many people are quick to blame all muslims for this violence. Because the extremists carried out there violence in the name of the Islamic State then some are quick to say that all muslims are the problem.
Such thinking is wrong. I cannot represent all males, all men in their fifties, all men from Canada living in Australia, or all men born from Assiniboia in 1963. When I speak, it is as me, not as the authoritative voice of any of these groups. In the same way, the actions of a few violent extremists, who see little value in human life, does not represent all muslims, or all muslims in France, or all muslims in Paris. Their actions do not speak for the one in five people around the world who are muslim. Their actions speak for those few people in any society who are willing to use heinous acts of violence to achieve their ends not for hundreds of millions of peaceful people. 
All Posts

Almost done…

We just sent you an email. Please click the link in the email to confirm your subscription!

OKSubscriptions powered by Strikingly