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Generalizations

  • Generalizations, one is told, are dangerous. So is life, for that matter, and it is built up on generalization — from the earliest effort of the adventurer who dared to eat a second berry because the first had not killed him.

  • We defend ourselves with descriptions and tame the world by generalizing.

  • We can no longer oversimplify. We can no longer build lazy and false stereotypes: Americans are like this, Russians are like that, a Jew behaves in such a way, a Negro thinks in a different way. The lazy generalities — 'You know how women are ... Isn't that just like a man?' The world cannot be understood from a single point of view.

  • General notions are generally wrong.

  • Persons not habituated to reason often argue absurdly, because, from particular instances, they deduce general conclusions, and extend the result of their limited experience of individuals indiscriminately to whole classes.

  • All sweeping assertions are erroneous.

  • ... the habit of generalizing from one particular, that mainstay of the cheap and obvious essayist, has rooted many fictions in the public eye. Nothing, for example can blot from my memory the profound, searching, and exhaustive analysis of a great nation which I learned in my small geography when I was a child, namely, 'The French are a gay and polite people fond of dancing and light wines.'

  • Never is a long word.

  • ... generalizations are merely conveniences, an attempt to oil the wheels of such civilization as we have. It is exhausting to come newly to everything, to have the same decisions to make over and over again.

  • Never is a long word.

  • General rules are dangerous of application in particular instances.

  • There is nothing in the education of the average non-scientific human being to discourage him from the habit of generalizing from little or no evidence, and worse still and far more important, nothing to discourage him from the habit of starting with a generalization and ending up with the individual, instead of the other way round.

  • ... we always are thinking of a woman when we generalize about women.

  • If you're going to generalize about women, you'll find yourself up to here in exceptions.

  • ... the hasty generalization is one of the real pleasures of civilized discourse.

  • ... sentences that begin with 'all women' are never, never true.