Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Generalizing is not a bad thing

Before I take a blogging break starting tomorrow (yay for holiday weekends; I need a holiday after the atheism post!), I thought I'd just throw out one quick thought.

Every now and then someone will complain that I "generalize" too much. I used to think that generalizing was a bad thing, because for some reason we are taught in this society that we shouldn't generalize. 

But then I heard a brilliant man* explain that if we do not generalize, we can't even talk. Of course, he's right. Think about it. If we have to note, discuss and dissect every caveat, every variation, and every possible exception to every idea we wish to debate, then we are conversationally paralyzed.

For purposes of debate, I need to be able to say, "The desert is hot," without going into the fact that there are times when the desert is cool and even cold (I know, because I live in the desert). I need to be able to say, "Liberals support a right to abortion," without having to provide a disclaimer about the small percentage of liberals who are pro-life. (I'm just throwing out two examples off the top of my head, but you get the point. It's late and my brain is fried!) 

Basically, I assume that every party to a dialogue understands that of course there are exceptions to almost everything. If there are some cases where I believe there to be no exceptions (moral absolutes, for example), I will be clear about that. But generally speaking (there I go again, generalizing!), exceptions are a given, and we don't need to spell them out every time, do we? It doesn't add to the clarity or understanding of the subject at hand when we must always discuss the exceptions as well as the rule.

Anyway, I just thought I would throw that out there and declare that I will, generally, generalize. Because I like discussions that actually go somewhere and mean something.

*Political and social commentator Dennis Prager. Prager is also the man responsible for my motto regarding dialogue with liberals: I prefer clarity to agreement.


  1. Excellent point and well said!

    Have a great time on your trip!

  2. Hmm...I've never really thought of that. Great point! Now I can use YOU as my "wise woman who once told me it's ok to generalize"! Thanks Leila!

  3. Oh, and enjoy your break! We'll miss you! And no, I'm not brown nosing for a future bubble award. I'll really miss you!

  4. Great point- totally agree! :) Have a WONDERFUL weekend!

  5. Great point!! It gets exhausting saying over and over... yes, I know for some this is the case but that's not the point of this conversation...

  6. I still hate generalizations. Sorry.

  7. here's my generalization...

    women named Leila with a Catholic blog and 8 cute kids are great...



PLEASE, when commenting, do not hit "reply" (which is the thread option). Instead, please put your comment at the bottom of the others.

To ensure that you don't miss any comments, click the "subscribe by email" link, above. If you do not subscribe and a post exceeds 200 comments, you must hit "load more" to get to the rest.