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Stereotyping

Description: The general beliefs that we use to categorize people, objects, and events while assuming those beliefs are accurate generalizations of the whole group.

Logical Form:

All X’s have the property Y (this being a characterization, not a fact).

Z  is an X.

Therefore, Z has the property Y.

Example #1:

French people are great at kissing.  Julie is French.  Get me a date!

Explanation: “French people are great at kissing” is a stereotype, and believing this to be so is a fallacy.  While it may be the case that some or even most are great at kissing, we cannot assume this without valid reasons.

Example #2:

Atheists are morally bankrupt.

Explanation: This isn’t an argument, but just an assertion, one not even based on any kind of facts.  Stereotypes such as these usually arise from prejudice, ignorance, jealousy, or even hatred.

Exception: Statistical data can reveal properties of a group that are more common than in other groups, which can affect the probability of any individual member of the group having that property, but we can never assume that all members of the group have that property.

Tip: Remember that people are individuals above being members of groups or categories.

References:

MAC, M. J. T., PhD, CSAC. (2006). Critical Thinking for Addiction Professionals. Springer Publishing Company.

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