Fun with fallacies 16: #Yesallmen and #Yesallwomen

Yes, I picked this just by accident, it has nothing to do with the hordes of feminists, social justice warriors and male accomplices of these group committing this fallacy so frequently that its easier to point out when they are not doing it. Of course, I’m guilty of doing this on occasion such as arguing “AWALT” (all women are like that) or using phrases such as “All women” or “All feminists”.

The basic foundation of this fallacy is to generalize from a small sample to the whole of a group. For instance, the leap from “1% of men are rapists” to “All men are rapists” is a hasty generalization.

To give you a little bit of a background on representative samples when it comes to research. The basic principle is that the sample should:

A) Be representative of the population as a whole

B) Be large enough to capture the population as a whole.

For instance, if you are looking into “campus rape culture” among 30000 students, matching the demographic mix of society as a whole in the age range of 20 – 25. Then in order for your sample to be valid within a reasonable confidence limit, you would have to:

A) Ensure that your group consists of people who represent the right mix of race and gender, are college students and are in the age range of 20 – 25. If you pick students at an adult learning facility who are mostly white, and between 40 and 45, you cannot say that this is representative. You also want to make sure that your sample is not confined to one area of study as this can influence your results. For instance if you asked the arts department at Columbia and the Arts and humanities departments at Duke you probably would have poor results.

B) Ensure that your sample is big enough to ensure that your sample size is valid.

Once this is in place, you can make educated generalizations about a group as a whole based on the information you got from your research. This is how this type of research is done for polls, or census surveys and so on.

The problem with the hashtag activists behind those hashtags is that it becomes very easy to prove their proposition wrong, as if you find a single man or a single woman who protests, that invalidates the proposition.

I’m reminded of David Hume, who made the observation that we can say:

  • The sun has always risen as far as we know.

But we cannot say:

  • The sun will always rise.



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