New Civilization News: Stereotypes are circular and non-scientific    
 Stereotypes are circular and non-scientific17 comments
17 Jun 2010 @ 06:07, by John Grieve

Stereotypes lead to self-fulfilling prophecies and non-scientific thought

I am writing this as a contribution to our understanding of stereo-typical thinking as a "non-critical" but very judgmental and non-scientific form of understanding that seems to afflict a large number of people.
Without subscribing completely to Karl Popper's theories regarding verification and falsifiability I think we can reasonably say that good science will regard contradictory facts to those predicted by its theories as a challenge and adjust its beliefs and practice accordingly. Not so with stereo-typical thinking or pseudo-science, which is completely based on a very deep need, based on insecurity, to confirm an already held irrational belief, based on prejudice and preconceived ideas and shallow generalizations. It could be called a deeply "confirmationist" approach to life, the exact opposite of any traditional form of "critical" thinking. Of course, critical thinking invites debate and counter-example and is through and through honest and rational and grown-up understanding. On the other hand, looked at from a psychological perspective, stereo-types are an infantile thought-form coming from intense prejudice and judgmentalism, the main purpose of which is to confirm what someone already "knows" or believes. To give examples, and you only have to consider a few of these to know that you are dealing with infantile and irrational beliefs, someone who believes that all black people are of inferior intellectual ability will actively seek "confirmation" of this prejudice from any source which comes his way, while any counter-examples will be dismissed in a cavalier way. Truly, wise people say that if the only tool you have is a hammer then everything you see is a nail. Beliefs based on such a system of thought clearly become self-fulfilling prophecies and science in these circumstances and to these people is clearly an impossibility. Giving examples of these beliefs is a bit of an embarrassment yet one only has to hear ordinary conversations to know that people do think and talk in this way.For example, a homophobe will interpret quite ordinary facts as a clear sign that another person, perhaps a stranger about whom he knows nothing, is gay. When this stranger is black, all sort of racist overtones are added to this complex mess.
In conclusion I would say that man is not a "thinking animal" as an ancient philosopher once said, but more likely a "non-thinking animal". If my conclusion seems to you a trifle pessimistic, look round at the world today at the wars, environmental degradation, violence, materialism and general insanity and consider if the classical rationalism explains it, or even Freud's theory of the Unconscious.
In a later work i will connect these ideas with my previously elaborated theories of Alienation.

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