Are stereotypes useful?

The Stammering Dunce
2 min readSep 21, 2022

Also published on Wordpress.

No, they are not.

I have had many arguments with bigots. But, one interaction gave me this realisation: stereotype is different from generalisation. I hate myself for being this late.

This person constantly made sweeping statements about Muslims. After receiving pushbacks, he defended himself by saying that if we want to talk about a collective, generalisation is inevitable.

What he said made sense here. How can we talk about human collectives when we are prohibited from generalising? The thing is I would be on his side… if he was being honest with himself.

A generalisation is meant to represent the entirety and it requires as many data as possible; mind you, it has the word “general” in it. If he truly wanted to have an honest discussion, he would have acknowledged that a group embodies different individuals and each of them almost certainly identifies with more than one labels. He would have been mindful of the diversity and the rigidness of pigeonholes.

Instead, he chose to paint a group of one billion believers as a hoard of centrally-controlled androids.

If you still prefer stereotype because it is the easier route, be my guest. But, you clearly don’t care about the truth.

If you do care…

You would try your best to drop all of your preconceived notions, unearth what is beneath the deceptive surface and learn as many intricate details as possible, especially ones that seemingly contradict each other.

You would try your best to embrace the complexities of life instead of settling for fact-distorting oversimplifications.

You would acknowledge that the “others” are your fellow human beings who just happen to be influenced by different life experiences and/or sets of rules.

You would have realised that just because you feel your beliefs are true, that does not mean they are.

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