27 July 2017

Generalisation

Gay men like pink, frilly lampshades. Chinese people are yellow. French people smell of garlic. German people like sausages. Italians are great lovers. Americans are big-headed. English people are snooty. Lancashire people are as thick as pig shit. Yorkshire folk are honest. Londoners are untrustworthy. Norwegians are good at skiing. Jews are miserly. Muslims want to take over the world. Posh people like fox hunting. Working class people swear and drink beer. Builders overcharge. The police are bullies. Politicians are solely interested in their own careers. They don't care about the people who elect them. Homeless people are drug addicts. Men are insensitive. Women's conversations are fatuous. In the house women do all the work.  Men watch TV and scratch their arses. Women are caring. Men like the sound of their own voices. Black people are lazy. Australian aborigines are drunkards. The Irish are funny. Canadians are boring. On and on and on...

Generalisation.

It's all a load of tosh. Stupid

But it's easy to do. From time to time we are all guilty of ignorant generalisation. And I am no different from the rest. If you trawled back through this blog I am sure you would find evidence of me generalising. Taking the easy route. Not stopping to think. But I do try to guard against it. Generalisation I mean.

If we know we are about to generalise we should probably preface our remarks with "Generally speaking..." or "In general I find..." or "I know it's not true of all bus drivers but..." - just to show an awareness that most generalisations are built on shaky ground.

Everybody is different. There are interesting Canadians like Red and Jenny and Joni Mitchell. In the majority of gay men's homes you will not encounter pink frilly lampshades. Plenty of dishonest Yorkshire folk now languish in prison. Some French people are not fond of garlic. Some Italians are celibate. On and on and on...

Generalisation.

Stuff it.

43 comments:

  1. I hate pink.....but i love fluffy

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    1. Are they the names of rescued poultry?

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  2. You've generalised quite a lot there. I don't think Canadians are boring and never have done. It's ridiculous to think otherwise. I'll ask my carers tomorrow and see what they say. I guarantee you though, they won't use the word "boring".
    People will see this post and not think very much of the English. How you can make such racist remarks troubles me. The evidence is not there that people think that way about others.

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    1. I have heard all those remarks Terry. Generalisation is not an English thing. It's worldwide.

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  3. Have you been worlwide?

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    1. Yes I have - apart from Antarctica.

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  4. Stuff it? What are we stuffing? What is "it"? I need to know what the "i" is we are supposed to stuff! Stop generalising and be specific! :)

    I've got a chicken here...perhaps I'll stuff it...but I'll have to catch it first! Stuff it! I'll have to catch it first! I can't be bothered. The can of baked beans is looking enticing....

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    1. To be specific, stuff a cushion with a chicken embroidered upon it. On the reverse it should say "Beware of Generalisation".

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    2. From this moment forth I'll start collecting the feathers. I think we can make a mint from this idea!!! :)

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  5. I, too, am guilty of generalization (with a z, sorry, because our Canadian language is a hodge podge of English and American!). I have found the best way to counteract it is to immediately get to know a member of the group about whom I am generalizing. I think it's caused by the human tendency to want to classify and make sense of things (as well as use our brain cells as little as possible), but it doesn't serve us well in this case.

    I didn't know Canadians were seen as boring!! Thank you for your defense of us, however :)

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    1. You make a good point about the human urge to classify, to pigeonhole and therefore make the journey through life less confusing.

      Sorry Jenny but there are even jokes about how polite and dull Canadians are supposed to be. For example:-

      QUESTION
      How do you get fifty Canadians out of a swimming pool?
      ANSWER
      You say, "Please get out of the swimming pool".

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    2. Canadians have always seemed polite and far more civilized than my fellow Americans, generally speaking. I'm sure there are probably rude and boorish Canadians, but I have yet to meet one! :)

      Seriously, though, you make a very good and valid point. Stereotypes are, at best, lazy thinking.

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    3. YP, I never thought about polite equating to dull. Now I'll have to start going about shoving people and saying "you cretin" to liven up my image :)

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    4. You should also consider a new punk-style wardrobe and hairstyle. Some piercings and tattoos would also help you to appear more "interesting".

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    5. Excellent plan. That will take care of my hairstyle woes ...

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  6. Since I spent time in the Arctic , I'm always asked about the Inuit. People expect me to give a pat answer that includes all inuit. No, each Inuit is an individual. I also admit to being guilty of generalizations. Good post.

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    1. Yes. Having lived amongst the Inuit you realise the stupidity of stereotyping. Thanks for calling by again Red.

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  7. How do you know that in the majority of gay men's homes you will not encounter pink, frilly lampshades - is that not a generalisation?

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    1. Not really. It is simply challenging the stereotype. I must admit I have only been in a few gay men's homes. It is not a scientific sample I know but there were no pink frilly lampshades in any of them.

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  8. I have read quite a lot about the topic of generalisation, prejudice etc., and there seems to be (general!) agreement among experts that our brains favour the "tribal" thinking because our (biological and social) history has firmly wired the tribal way of life deeply in us.
    Even from one village to the next, within the same district, there are generalisations, prejudice and - very silly - rivalry. The person completely free of all prejudice and generalisation has yet to be born, I suppose. But, as you point out, we can try, and it should already be helpful to be aware of it - only then can we do something about it.

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    1. Well put Miss Arian. We are all guilty of generalisation but very often it is the hallmark of ignorance.

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  9. Replies
    1. Yes I have Phann Son. Why do you ask? Have you been worldwide?

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  10. You're right about men watching TV and scratching their arses. That's a fact, not a generalisation.

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    1. Hahaha! Too funny, Sue!!

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    2. Paul and Gregg may do that but I am a civilised gentleman.

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  11. Real men don't eat quiche. Talking of which..... I am glad I didn't read your post yesterday about worms. I went out with the girlfriends last night for an Italian meal, although thankfully we didn't eat spaghetti. I didn't see any amorous Italians either!

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    1. I guess I am not a real man as I love broccoli and stilton quiche. If I am not real does that mean I am a zombie?

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  12. One abiding voice in my head for my whole life has said over and over again that every single person on this earth is born with the same potential. With that in mind, I try never, ever to generalize. I am sure that it happens at times (for instance, I think anyone with the last name of Trump that comes from New York simply must be stupid and arrogant and narcissistic!) Anyway, as I was saying, if you put people into any category, you will miss out on knowing them completely and miss out on learning and experiencing what they have to offer.

    I do disagree with you on one point tho, Neil. The Italians that I have known are great lovers! (hahaha)

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    1. Hang on... Big Bear is not of Italian extraction!

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    2. I may be wrong but I have a strange feeling that the statement "One abiding voice in my head for my whole life has said over and over again that every single person on this earth is born with the same potential." is a generalisation.

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    3. What if that person has Down's Syndrome or no legs?

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    4. Yes, you guys may be right. Never thought of it that way before. I mainly think of the world potential that is then shaped by education, climate, wealth or lack of, health, etc., etc. I also know persons with disabilities who have gone way beyond their expected potential.

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  13. I think it's human nature to classify and generalize. It's how we make sense of the bigger picture, even though -- as you point out -- generalizations are often flawed and entirely incorrect. For what it's worth, we have no pink frilly lampshades here. We do, however, have some Judy Garland and Joan Crawford movies!

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    1. There is an urge to generalise but as we follow that urge I think we should do it judiciously, with riders and qualifications. Olga isn't a preened French poodle with ribbons.

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  14. But it sits there like a toad in the background of our thinking doesn't it YP? We may think - and say - that we don't generalise, but it is there.

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    1. As I say, I am as guilty as anybody else but I try to take the other path.

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  15. People are people, right? I noticed that you didn't mention swedish people, for sure there must be plenty of truths about us!! This was a good post, made me remember one of our teachers in highschool. During one of his lessons in compulsory social life , he handed us a survey where we should do some ranking, you know, in case of so and so would you prefer boys or girls, old or young, black or white, foreigner or swede, muslim or christian, jew or buddhist, aso aso. It took some time to find out what he was up to, some never did and waited for the score.... I believe this thinking among us makes us feel more comfortable, we like to put things in order, systematically making our lifespan and environment easy to understand and handle. We dislike surprises and fear having to make efforts to understand. What if we misunderstand someone? What if someone misunderstands us? What if I have to confront someone I disagree with? It's easier to draw the line before someone gets too close. I don't know , your suggestion is good enough, let's always save space for misunderstandings. And remember that people are people, everywhere and always.

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    1. Interesting response. Thank you Solveig.

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  16. "Lancashire people are as thick as pig shit. Yorkshire folk are honest." Only a Yorkshireman could come up with such ludicrous 'generalisations'. PS Pig shit isn't thick. You've obviously never rolled around in it.

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    1. I deliberately put that one in to rile you Graham! I just knew you'd spot it. It was like fly fishing!

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  17. Throwing bait over the side of the boat in bucket loads today Pudding - and catching the occasional small sprat....

    Or is that a sweeping statement ( one of the few generalisation references I recall from my long ago secondary education.)?

    Alphie

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  18. I think it's human nature to classify and generalize. It's how we make sense of the bigger picture, even though -- as you point out -- generalizations are often flawed and entirely incorrect. For what it's worth, we have no pink frilly lampshades here.
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