Improve Your Critical Thinking: Make No Hasty Generalizations

Also Known as: Fallacy of Insufficient Statistics, Fallacy of Insufficient Sample, Leaping to A Conclusion. Hasty Generalizations are often reinforced by Emotional Reasoning or Following the Crowd.

Brute Fact: We are made to generalize.  Why? Because in order to navigate the world, we have to make broad assumptions about most things. We cannot stop to think about every little thing or we’d be paralyzed.  Early on we base what we do on our early experiences of what felt good, bad, or scary. Get bitten by a dog as a youth and you will most likely view all dogs as a bit scary.

Moreover, for survival’s sake we are programmed to automatically assume some things are to be feared or avoided. Fear of the dark is one example, why kids want night lights.  Fear of what is strange or different is another inborn survival skill. and is the root of most prejudices; prejudices are hasty generalizations.

What to do?  Worry not about everyday hasty generalizations. Worry about those that create trouble for you or others. Mainly, that involves prejudices and the stronger the prejudice the more trapped you are by a hasty generalization.

Realizing a prejudice is a hasty generalization helps. So does realizing it is tied to survival fears of the unknown. Then comes making a concerted effort to get to know more about the other side of your prejudices.

Gregory Bateson, famed anthropologist said. “The more views of the terrain, the more accurate the map.”

Think a bit about your stance in the current political divisiveness. Who do you hate the most? Now make a concerted effort to find views that praise or defend that candidate. Hopefully, your prejudice and hate will moderate.

The stronger your self-soothing skills, the better you can do the hard work of making fewer hasty generalizations. Take time to download and read Emotional Fitness Training’s Tiny e-Book Self-Soothing.

Thank you for all you do.

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