I think generalizing and prejudices are healthy.
I think it is essential to learning and growing… an integral part of human intellect… the ability to notice and extrapolate patterns in seemingly unpredictable and inconsistent chaos. Every scientific hypothesis is a presupposition, a prejudice, that gets proven or dis-proven in scientific experimentation… they are formed when we take many separate observations and induce a connection that may or may not exist; and we often utilize the irrational imagination to derive testable rationalizations and connections.
Without the ability to generalize, humanity would still be swinging from trees throwing fecal matter at one another… or, at the very least we wouldn’t have invented fire yet, nor rocks or sticks. We wouldn’t have been able to observe one monkey using a stick and deduce that we could as well. We wouldn’t have been able to observe that one stick has a use and induce that others could as well.
Social stereotypes are no different than those of the physical sciences that have evolved technological understanding… psychologists and sociologists do it. The difference though is the fact that you and I don’t have Ph D’s in the subject matter. That fact alone is what turns us from being taken seriously as objective scientists to being taken as bigots.
Scientific truth is often ignored because it’s offensive to society; and accepted on pure faith without thorough understanding when it compliments or supports ones biases. Stereotype is healthy and a sign of intellect.
Social prejudice and stereotype is not unlike psychology and sociology, they are the most superficial and personality-oriented of the prejudices, unlike the hypotheses of the physical sciences. What makes the prejudices of psychology and sociology acceptable is the fact that they are categorized as science. Taken outside the context of science, they can be rather superficial and insulting. And yet how much of these sciences are actually testable or repeatable? Hardly any! These are the least scientific of the sciences, as most of its conclusions are statistically based.
Have you noticed that “retards” are innocents? They lack the capacity to form hate based on stereotype… and to tie their shoes. Is there a connection, or is it pure coincidence? It turns out to be the intelligent, rational human beings that form irrational biases and prejudices… because they are the ones to observe the patterns and the statistics and confidently assert an association. This is intelligence.
What is bad about society isn’t that stereotype exists… its that stereotypes are not recognized for what they are – they are presumed to be true in all cases without room for error or exception. People arrogantly put excessive faith in their own knowledge and understanding. Prejudices are used as a foundation for establishing social or legal policies in segregation – not yielding to people the opportunity to make a fair attempt on their own in defiance of stereotype. Stereotype is used as a basis for hate… or pride. Or even as a basis of making any decision whatsoever, even if its seemingly innocent like whether or not you like broccoli. Science allows for variance… bigotry does not.
A stereotype is just a recognition of a statistical probability as a likely truth in most if not all cases. Its partly wrong when you don’t have an intellectual basis for the stereotype. The true moral crime is holding an individual to a generalized expectation and standard while failing to recognize their potential individual uniqueness and capabilities.
Forming prejudice is like forming hypothesis… you are only wrong if:
- you assume its true without testing it
- refuse to test the theory all-together
- refuse to accept its fallaciousness after its been tested, or
- if you refuse to accept variance exists by assuming universal law.
Aside from that, no one can be faulted for forming opinions and extrapolating subjective truths from the patterns they observe. Prejudice is Intelligence – and the point from which all knowledge stems.