When inquiring about politics or history, there are two ways to go about it. The first way is to do research until you have an understanding of the complexities of it. The second and much more dangerous method is to make broad generalizations or oversimplifications on the subject. Many have a bad habit of using the second method.
Generalizations can be offensive if they reduce something from a complicated thing to a simple thing. They are especially offensive when they are made about people who die or who’s lives were ruined.
It is important to avoid generalizations and simplifications as much as possible. Any agreements or disagreements?
Worse than generalizations, I think, is when some facts are deliberately chosen and others excluded so as to support a predetermined conclusion or opinion. I see this kind of “cherry picking” done very often when one is attempting to prove their point, and too often, I do it as well.
**Generalizations **made on on-line forums are usually worthless. I’m sorry to say that I’ve seen a lot of posts on here that say “this forum this, this forum that” as if everyone on CAF speaks with a single voice.
This isn’t the Borg Collective.
Now, in the Family Life forum, I might be coaching someone for dating advice and I might say “In general, you’d want to proceed with X, then Y then Z”.
**Simplifications **are going to happen both on-line and in general conversation, too, I’m afraid.
They are used as a method to justify a position along the lines one-dimensional thinking.
Oh, if only I had a dollar every time that happened!
And it clearly works both ways. Pick your passion: limited government, the social safety net, income inequality, Solidarity, Subsidiarity; you can find facts and expert opinions to support almost any cause, with the proviso that you must often ignore a lot of other facts and expert opinions.
I hope I’m not the only one who chuckled at the title. Saying that generalizations are dangerous is in and of itself a generalization.
While I see your point (and, in general, agree with it), there are situations where a generalization is sufficient. It’s best to have as many facts as possible when making a decision, but we’ve all got lives to live and don’t have infinite time to do detailed research, and sometimes the cost isn’t worth the knowledge we would gain. In those cases, a simplified understanding of an issue is better than no understanding, wouldn’t you say?