All generalizations are false, including this one. –Mark Twain*

Really, just MOST generalizations are false. Don’t get me wrong–generalizations are often useful and necessary as a language construct–but ideas that are summed up in absolute terms (especially the ones that include the words “always,” “all,” “never,” and “none”) are usually easily disproved.

Often, much of our civic discourse is reduced into brief generalizations, analogies, platitudes, pithy statements, or–worst of all–memes.** Many ideas are short on words due to the nature of the mediums on which they are written. Social media posts and bumper stickers only hold so many words, after all. Briefly stated ideas are fine sometimes, but the danger of using them as the basis of arguments is that they often fall apart under scrutiny. Even seemingly innocuous statements like “Freedom isn’t free” and “It doesn’t matter what other people think,” though well-intentioned, are just not logically sound. Just because something sounds clever on a bumper sticker or a meme doesn’t mean the underlying idea is true. Brevity may be the soul of wit, but it can also be the soul of bad arguments. Unfortunately, people try to convince each other of the truth of their opinions through generalizations, and they wonder why they seldom work. Here, I’ll do my best to take a deeper look at some briefly-worded arguments and sayings that make me sigh with exasperation, and patiently deconstruct them.

I’ll also post about other topics I get excited about. This can include a lot of things, so there won’t be just one thematic structure to all these posts. I’ll discuss politics, religion, sports, relationships, interpersonal communication, networking and public speaking, and sometimes law, because I am a lawyer and I can’t help it.

Thanks for reading and thinking.

*The internets attribute this quote to Mark Twain, which I found disappointing because I swear I thought of it on my own as well. I quote him here for the purposes of integrity, and I suppose Mark Twain’s thoughts were floating around in the ether when I stumbled upon them.

**Note: The author finds the use of memes completely appropriate for the purposes of non-argumentative humor. Like, any use of cats to make a joke on a meme is perfectly acceptable and hilarious.

6 thoughts on “About

  1. I love your writing and I would like to get updates. Do you offer an email subscription?

    1. Thanks! Working on it!

  2. […] Above is an interesting and potentially useful chart on the reliability of news. You can find the maker’s musings here. […]

  3. Great minds can sometimes think alike. You in relation to Mark Twain. Sometimes the great ideas can be thought of by multiple people at different times independent of each other.

  4. Hey Vanessa!
    If you have a minute, I’d love to talk with you about featuring your news chart and AGAF on a “call to action” website I’m developing. Thanks for what you do!

  5. I also came up with the “All generalizations are false” few years ago, and only now I’m realizing it’s Mark Twain’s. According to the rule of acceptance, since few people in different times and places thought of something, it must be true.

    Thank you for the interesting blog.

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