Stereotyping in general is bad, lazy and flawed. It is a tool of the ignorant yet it is too simplistic to indicate that it is utterly devoid of some factual seedling. It is a good reminder when we get into generalizing too much that stereotyping is just another form of generalizing. Generalizing can be a convenient cognitive matrix yet too often is it used simply because most people don't like to think.
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Originally Posted by Edgar
Spamtar - a strange combination of boorish drunkeness and erudite discussions, or what I call "an Irish academic"
What about racial stereotypes? What about "blacks are stupid and subhuman and deserve to be slaves"? Grain of truth?
"Jews are filthy, greedy and corrupt and deserve to be exterminated" Grain of truth?
"Americans are fat, boorish, parochial and idiotic". Grain of truth?
I don't think "Blacks are subhuman and deserve to be slaves" is a very common stereotype outside of very small extremist circles.
But it is a statistical fact that the average black has a lower IQ than the average person of other ethnic groups. (Obviously that doesn't mean there aren't smart black people, etc.)
Jews actually are one of the most affluent ethnic groups as well, by numbers. As far as filthy/greedy/whatever, those are exaggerations, but again--the grain of truth is that Jews, on average, do have more money than most other ethnic groups.
As for Americans, a lot of us really do tend to act like complete idiots, especially when outside the country, and a lot of us really are completely oblivious to the fact that anything non-American might ever have any value at all. There has certainly been a rash of retarded pro-American blind nationalism, especially since 9/11.
Are any of these true in a majority cases? Probably not. Are the especially hateful ones hugely exaggerated to the point of being ridiculous? Yes. Are they based on grains of truth? Yes--otherwise those perceptions wouldn't exist at all.
If you could be anything you want, I bet you'd be disappointed--am I right?
That's funny because I had a perception of you as being reasonably bright. And it seems not to have been based on anything substantial at all.
Awww, don't give up on me just yet.
Think about this: Where do stereotypes come from in the first place? What leads to a popular perception? What causes jokes based on stereotypes to spread and survive?
For instance, let's say I made a joke implying that gay men have horrible fashion sense. Would this joke spread? If I told it to a lot of people and plastered it around the internet, would anyone bother repeating it?
No, because virtually nobody perceives gay men as having bad fashion sense. In order for a stereotype to even become a well-known stereotype in the first place, a significant portion of the population has to believe it has some sort of vague foundation in reality.
So, then we get to the question Trinity asked, which is: "What if that widespread perception is mistaken?" And she has a good point, because often this is the case...but reputations aren't just assigned randomly and out of thin air. If enough people believe something that it becomes embedded into our collective cultural consciousness, there's probably some reason for it--even if it's become distorted and grossly exaggerated over time.
As stated above, for example: It's clearly not true that all males under 20 are reckless speed demons who are way too stupid to be trusted with motor vehicles. Unfortunately, enough males under 20 (as compared to other demographics) actually do tend to drive somewhat recklessly that this stereotypical perception has worked its way into the collective consciousness. If very few males under 20 actually drove recklessly, this stereotype would never have existed in the first place.
So as time goes on, the stereotype gets exaggerated more and more and eventually we end up with a ridiculous mess of nonsense: "Males under 20 are absolute idiots behind the wheel! We should raise the driving age to 21!" and so on and so forth...so when all is said and done, we often end up with a stereotype that's ridiculous and inaccurate...but it had to come from somewhere. That's why I use the phrase "grain of truth"--there's usually a little tiny bit of truth that gets blown out of proportion into an absurd and nonsensical caricature of the original meaning.
Let me be clear: I do believe it's wrong to assume traits about any given individual based on stereotypes, or to treat someone unfairly because of these stereotypes. I'm absolutely not advocating discrimination.
But I don't think many highly popular stereotypes just materialize into widespread cultural consciousness out of nowhere with absolutely no basis for them. Why do you never hear anyone stereotyping gay men as having bad fashion sense?
If you could be anything you want, I bet you'd be disappointed--am I right?
Jews first practiced usury during the Middle Ages, so they became widely discriminated against by the Christians because they bled the aristocracy dry of money. This is where the stereotype came from.
Blacks were tribal and "savage", though not unwilling to barter with European slave traders. Of course, slavery existed long before Americanized agricultural slavery; justified by other means such as mutiny and going against the state. So Americanized slavery was the biproduct of isolated nationalism and ethnic bigotry, but in order to subdue a population, it is best to strip them of their educational rights. So the stereotype of "the dumb African American" perpetuated itself; though IQ measurements do present a contrast. And they will present a contrast. Anyone who honestly thinks that they will somehow equalize across the board should stop knocking on wood so much; you'll break your knuckles eventually. Now, IQ has been shown to correlate with socio-economic status and other environmental factors as well; and black males are the highest number represented in the U.S. prison systems. What can you infer from this?
And you know, sometimes people "make" the stereotype that blonde women have more sex. Where did this "conjecture" come from? Well, a blonde chick probably got laid alot and news permeated throughout the "hive-mind", if you will. In fact, blonde women are statistically more fertile than other women.
To think that these stereotypes come from some fantasy land is to also say that common knowledge comes from a fantasy land as well. Sometimes it is revised, rechecked, or disproved, but nevertheless, there is almost always a reason behind our assumptions.
Americans are generally viewed as loud and obnoxious in European countries; often because they are ignorant of traditional social customs and mannerisms. They tend to view the whole world as a theme park when they are on vacation. They are also the most significantly obese and the most abundant in foodstuffs because their advertisements are geared toward presenting exaggerated products. External stimuli induces hunger in overweight people, while internal stimuli induces hunger in healthy weighted people. The entire culture swings on the centrifuge of consumerism; and their tax dollars are far too often being devoted toward armaments and over-seas military funds, rather than focusing on education like India does. I've spoken with many foreign exchange students who say that all American students do is drone on, asking impertinent and doltish questions about geography, international politics, like "LOLZ Do YoU HAs MCDoNAlD'S in EuROpE".
This is the general stereotype. This is not representative of all Americans. This is a projection. I am American. *