Politically Correct Fanatics
Their denial of patterns and genetics
By Winston Wu
You may be reading this because you've made one or some of the following politically correct statements:
1. "Not all of them are like that. It depends on the individual. You generalize or stereotype."
2. "There is good and bad (or anything being contrasted) everywhere."
3. "Stereotypes and generalizations are bad, harmful, and wrong."
4. "I know this person or that who doesn't fit your generalization."
5. "People are the same everywhere you go." or "We are all unique individuals, so it is wrong and inaccurate to make generalizations or stereotypes." (a seeming contradiction)
The "politically correct" crowd today is imbued with a mentality that denies any sort of patterns in people, and denies the whole science of genetics, seems prevalent among many people today, especially in the US. Though odd and illogical, it has spread widely and in various degrees among the world's populations into popular thought today. For some reason, these people, in their idealistic cause to appease and unify the people of the world with political correctness, are willing to deny facts and reality to support their politically correct beliefs. And they do this to the point of making it not just a mentality, but almost a religion as well. They seem motivated by a belief or desire to ignore all differences in people, in order to unify all, get agreement from all, and offend none. Thus, in effect, when it comes to choosing between truth and political correctness, they choose the latter. For terminology purposes, we will call these kinds of people "PC fanatics" (politically correct fanatics).
(Many PC fanatics are also “Attitude fanatics”, though not all. To see my article on the folly of attitude fanaticism, see: www.debunkingskeptics.com/Attitude_Fanatics.htm)
These PC fanatics, however, are tedious to debate, because they bring up the same protests over and over again (e.g. the statements above) and even when you point out why they're wrong, getting them to admit it sometimes too, they still bring up the same points again later. It becomes tedious and repetitive. Therefore, I've written this article to knock some sense into them, and to save me time from having to repeat the same arguments to them over and over again. I will try to cut to the chase, telling it like it is.
PC fanatics' denial of patterns among people
PC fanatics are people who are religiously against defining or labeling people in any way. Any attempt by someone to define or label others are met with defensiveness by PC fanatics who create straw man arguments by claiming that such definitions are “generalizations” and “stereotypes”. They usually have no problem with labeling objects and things, just not when it comes to people, which somehow violates their belief systems. Any attempt at describing patterns in people is immediately labeled as "generalizing" or "stereotyping", and rebuked by one of the five PC statements above.
Most PC fanatics are probably P’s in the last letter of the Meyer’s Briggs four letter personality type. In the fourth letter, one is either a P (Perceiving) or J (Judging). P’s hate definitions, decisions made, and prefer to keep everything open ended and undefined, while J’s are the opposite. I am obviously a J, and would surmise that most PC fanatics are P’s, due to their innate resistance of defining others.
The truth is, contrary to what PC fanatics insinuate, people who make observations or define others are never claiming that ALL people in that group are like that. They are merely reporting and defining PATTERNS in people based on their experiences, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Patterns exist, even in people, and it is illogical for PC fanatics to constantly deny them. Scientists observe and define patterns in people, as well as statisticians, researchers, marketers, businessmen, insurance companies, and even sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists, historians, etc. Observing patterns in people is useful in so many ways that are too numerous to even list, adding to one’s understanding of things.
For instance, auto insurance companies conclude that young males are higher risk drivers than young females, so they set car insurance premiums for young males higher. So does that mean that these insurance companies claim that "all" young males are high risk drivers, as PC fanatics would protest? No, of course not. It's merely a statistic that they need to properly assess risk and cost, or else the business would go belly-up. If only PC fanatics would get that.
PC fanatics and others like to charge
that I generalize when I make observations and claims.
But I am don’t.
I merely OBSERVE PATTERNS. Yes we
are all individuals (especially in
Anyone who goes into a
department clothing store can see that the quantity and variety of
women are far greater than for men. Is
that generalizing, or reality? It snows
way more in
Things and people are NOT in the
same percentages everywhere. For
Those are all observable patterns that the most simple and ordinary person could observe and agree with. In addition, there are an endless number of contrasts you could make between cultures, mentalities, lifestyles, behaviors, etc. among people of different nations and geographic regions. None of them claim that "all" members of a group or category fit these tendencies. Therefore, to say “not all are like that” is both useless and irrelevant. It is merely a false straw man argument; in other words, putting words into their mouth that they never said in order to knock it down easily.
What these PC fanatics never understand, no matter how many times its pointed out to them, is that those who identify patterns NEVER claim that what they are saying applies to "all" members of that group. Instead, they use terms like "most", "in general", or "tend to". And even when they don't clarify it with those terms, they still never mean "all" (e.g. the phrase "Americans are......." is not the same as "all Americans are......"). In fact, no one but the most extreme fanatics would claim that any one trait or quality applies to "all" members of any category.
PC fanatics like to point out that stereotypes and generalizations hurt people by misjudging them, and they add that people’s behaviors cannot be categorized or formulized. They are right in that sense. Trying to predict people’s behaviors by putting them into formulas often fails, even when done by the world’s top experts. However, one who observes and defines patterns in others does not necessarily generalize or stereotype, for he/she does not claim absoluteness.
Let’s give the simplest example to illustrate what I mean. Suppose I saw eight X’s and two O’s fall into a grid. Now, it would be fair for me to honestly report that there are eight X’s and two O’s. And I could logically predict that when the next character falls into the grid, there will be an 80 percent chance it will be an X and a 20 percent chance it will be an O. Now that is not stereotyping or generalizing. It is merely reporting the pattern observed. One who does this can still keep an open mind and know that he/she could be wrong. It’s as simple as that. But there is no need to try to pretend that there are an equal number of X’s and O’s or that no pattern exists, just to please the beliefs of PC fanatics and avoid offending their beliefs that patterns don’t exist.
Debunking the 5 PC statements
Now let’s dissect each of the five PC statements with another simple illustration. Here below you see two boxes, A and B. In box A, you see eight + plus symbols and two * asterisks, while in Box B, you see seven * asterisks and three + plus symbols.
+ + + + + * + + + *
* * * + * * + + * *
Now, suppose PC statement # 1 came into the picture: "Not all of them are like that. It depends on the individual. You generalize or stereotype." If I said that "Box A tends to have pluses in them and Box B tends to have asterisks" or "Most symbols in Box A are pluses, and most in Box B are asterisks" and PC fanatics respond by with, "You can't generalize like that. There are pluses are asterisks in both boxes." or "Not all symbols in Box A are pluses. Not all symbols in Box B are asterisks." What would that accomplish? Those typical PC statements, though true, do NOTHING to refute the statements I made, identifying patterns I observed in those two boxes. Yet they are presented as a denial or challenge. Again, they are both USELESS and IRRELEVANT. Instead, all they do is create a false straw man, insinuating that the pattern observer claimed that 100 percent all symbols were one or the other, when in fact, he/she did no such thing!
Do you see how trifling silly this is? Yet, it's EXACTLY what so many PC fanatics do! I've seen and heard it so many times, that I could say, "If I had a dime for everytime I heard that, I'd be rich."
Let's look at PC statement # 2: "There is good and bad (or anything being contrasted) everywhere."
This again is another common false straw man. Though true, it does nothing to refute any statement of observation, and only puts words again into the mouth of the accused. No one denies that there is "good" and "bad" everywhere, or any other qualities being contrated. That was never contested. But just because there is "good" and "bad" everywhere doesn't mean they are in the same PERCENTAGES everywhere!
For example, there is
percentage of scammers, criminals, and thieves in
As in the Box analogy, if you applied PC statement # 2 and said, "There are pluses and asterisks in both boxes" it does absolutely nothing but falsely accuse the pattern observer again.
As for PC statement # 3: "Stereotypes and generalizations are bad, harmful, and wrong" well they are when PC fanatics make create them and put them into the mouth of those who are merely observing patterns they've experienced. In that sense, the PC fanatic is the one stereotyping and generalizing, not the pattern observer. However, while it is true that stereotypes can be harmful and unfairly categorize minorities and genders, that is not the issue I am refuting here.
But even regarding harmful stereotypes, it’s been said even that, "Every stereotype is based on some grain of truth".
Now for PC statement # 4: "I know this person or that who doesn't fit your generalization."
Again, this does not
pattern being observed and claimed. Sure everyone knows or can
exceptions to the patterns being identified, and in most cases even the
observer can. However, a few exceptions does
NOT refute or falsify a general pattern. For example, you can
find a few
And as in the Box analogy, you could take PC statement # 4 and point out the minority of pluses or asterisks that are the exception to the pattern, but it wouldn't change the majority pattern of the symbols in the boxes.
Finally, we come to PC statement # 5: "People are the same everywhere you go." or "We are all unique individuals, so it is wrong and inaccurate to make generalizations or stereotypes." (a seeming contradiction)
The first sentence is blatantly false (the composers of the oldies song "Ebony and Ivory" ought to be ashamed to put that sentence into their lyrics), and anyone could bet all their money against it and easily win. Usually though, those who utter it are saying that everywhere you go you can find good and bad people. But that was already addressed in PC statement # 2.
And in regard to the second sentence, sure we are all individuals and unique (i.e. no two fingerprints and EEG brain waves are exactly alike) but one cannot deny that patterns of differences exist among people of varying regions, nationalities, or genders. Likewise, dogs and cats are individuals and each has its own quirks. Though they are not all the same, there does exist general patterns of differences between them (e.g. dogs are more dependent and needy while cats are more independent; cats instinctively chase mice and birds while dogs don’t; etc.)
Hypocrisy of PC fanatics
When PC fanatics become defensive, they often resort to sly and ridiculous arguments such as “Have you met everyone in the world to know this?” or “Not all are like that. It depends on who you meet.” The first statement is a classic case of raising the bar to an impossible standard that no one could meet to try to discredit the claim being made.
One does not have to know or meet everyone in the world, over six billion people, in order to honestly report or define patterns in people. Funnily, if I proclaimed to PC fanatics that “most parents would not want their children to be kidnapped” or “most people would prefer not to be shot by a gun”, they somehow mysteriously do not feel the need to resort to this statement. Obviously, PC fanatics are inconsistent in their logic, and highly selective of what they choose to demand proof for and what they don’t. They seem to only use the "you can't generalize or stereotype" accusation when someone identifies a pattern they don't agree with or like, but don't use it when they themselves agree with the described pattern. In a way, this is a double standard, for this type of semi-PC fanatic will demand scientific proof from the one they disagree with, but when they agree with the pattern, then they don't need proof for it, and in fact base it on nothing but their own observations as well.
The second statement ploy is again merely a pure straw man argument, for no one who observes or defines patterns in others is claiming “all are like that” nor is he/she claiming that everyone is the same. So the statement is a moot point that is bred more out of emotion than rationality.
The best solution seems to be to honestly observe patterns in people, while keeping an open mind that one could be wrong, and that there are always exceptions. That would be the logical view. But it wouldn’t be logical to just pretend that people are the same everywhere, or that patterns don’t exist in people, just to appease the beliefs of PC fanatics. If one observes that men in general tend to be physically stronger than women, that most who use cosmetics tend to be female, that white people tend to be taller than Asian people, or that most of the people who attend psychic fairs in America tend to be women rather than men, etc., then one should have the right and freedom to report such observations honestly, without feeling like they are violating some type of morality imposed by PC fanatics.
After all, since the observant of patterns is never claiming absolutes in his/her definitions, the PC fanatics technically have no case to gripe about. The absolutes seem to only exist in the minds of PC fanatics, not in those who define or observe patterns.
Where there is disagreement among those identifying patterns, one should state their opposing experience or observation, and try to back it up. In this way, it makes for much more constructive discussion or debate. But for God sake, please don't use one of the five PC statements, which serve no purpose other than creating false straw mans.
In such cases, those who disagree on their experiences and the patterns they observed ought to compare their qualifications - namely, a) the vastness of their experiences, b) how well-traveled they are, and c) the number of people they've known or met, in relation to the subject at hand. Those with higher qualifications in these areas ought to be considered more credible, and ought to be able to back it up as well. For example, as it applies to a and b, someone who's been to a hundred countries (such exist by the way, for I have met them) is far more qualified to make culture comparisons, observing and identifying patterns between them, than someone who has never left their own city, state/province, or country. And likewise, someone who has lived in a foreign country for at least a year, immersing themselves with its culture and people while living amongst them, is far more qualified to be stating patterns than the typical American who only knows about that country from their media.
Now when you know or
have met many
people who are well traveled, you will notice that patterns exist
their stories and experiences. For example, as a traveler myself
met many others, here are some common consensuses I've noticed.
Americans who have been to
PC fanatics' denial of the science of genetics
Another feature of PC fanatics is that they seem to deny the existence of genetics altogether, dismissing and ignoring an entire branch of science. They have this fanatical belief that everyone's personality, behavior, characteristics, mindset, and beliefs are COMPLETELY determined by their environment, culture, and how they were raised. In simple terms, in the nature vs. nurture debate, they completely side with nurture. They have little or no evidence or sound reasoning to base this on, yet believe it fervently, even ignoring all contrary evidence.
This belief is
The truth though, is that most of the research by science in the field of genetics and heredity have concluded that our personalities are determined about 50/50 by nature and nurture. The evidence, tested, observed, and researched for many years, indicate this. Yet most Americans and PC fanatics believe that personality is 100 percent nurture and 0 percent nature. Perhaps they have a need to believe that they are in control, and despise the notion of being a slave or prisoner to their genes.
The research which proves the PC fanatics wrong, is well documented. Most of it indicates that its about 50/50. See the following:
It is clear that there is a genetic or inherited element involved in our personalities, temperament, and in what makes us "tick". For example, two siblings can grow up in the same families and environment, yet turn out to be totally different in personality and beliefs. Also, studies have shown that fraternal twins who were reared apart tend to still have striking similarities in personality, habits, choices, etc. some of which are very eerie. That strongly favors nature over nurture, for example.
And, some are born with phobias that have no environmental learned cause. For instance, I've always had a fear of heights, and as a little child was even afraid to go down slides in the playground. Yet I had no bad experiences or trauma that caused this. I was born like that. And some are born with natural talents as well, that aren't learned (e.g. Mozart could play the piano as a child without ever having been taught it).
Another consensus among behavioral scientists and specialists is that behavior and habits are mostly learned and therefore changeable. That is the good news, which is that undesirable behavior, bad habits or cyclical addictions, can in fact, be changed by behavioral modification techniques. However, our basic core personality, who we are, and what makes us tick, cannot be changed, only enhanced to varying degrees. Though we or others may try to change who we are, we simply end up coming back to being the same as before. There is a saying that "people never change" and it does have some basis in truth, but those who utter it ought to understand that behavior and habits can be changed.
Perhaps this person who goes by "liesa" on PlanetPapers.com, summarized the relation between genetics and environment best:
"The most fundamental way to rationalize my opinion is quite comprehensible. It is that heredity determines one’s potential, but environment devises how far one will reach that potential. “Nature designs blueprints and nurture modifies them each step of the way” (Dempsey and Zimbardo 164). “(For instance), some genes increase our risk of heart disease: but if we know this and eat less fat, we reduce the risk” (Tudge)."
As it's not always easy to recognize the difference between what is changeable and what isn't, perhaps the following serenity prayer applies:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference
Thank you for reading.
Addendum: Also see Attitude Fanaticism - A New Wave of American Delusion