Tag Archives: Makeup

Who’s allowed to make General Statements? It’s Fallacy Friday!

26 Jul


Mary Kaye women always wear pink!

Women from Dallas have big hair!

When I was growing up, my dad forbade me to make ‘general statements’ by disclaiming, “Maria – you are not a general, yet!”

It wasn’t until I was teaching logic that I realized other reasons for avoiding big broad, unsubstantiated pronouncements that were not backed up by enough data!

Welcome, again, to Fallacy Friday!  This is the day when we examine more examples of faulty reasoning.  Fallacies are shortcuts undertaken by either ignorant, lazy or devious people to convince you of the truth of their assertion!  But beware.

I just spent a week in Dallas, practicing new techniques in teaching second language acquisition.  Our group shared the hotel with 3 batches of Mary Kaye sales consultants, one after another.  In the elevators, in the restrooms, in the hallways bounced, minced & chattered well-coiffed, flawlessly made- up women, bedecked with sales awards.  

And no, contrary to my pre-conceived idea, Mary Kaye women DO NOT all wear pink.   That is a Sweeping Generalization.

All Mary Kaye women I have seen wear pink

Here are some Mary Kaye women

Therefore, they will be wearing pink

The problem is that the MK women I have experienced are too small a population size for me to come to my conclusion.  Hence I have just made a Sweeping Generalization.


Now about my second pronouncement about hair – a true Hasty Generalization:  I’ve actually only met ONE woman from Texas who had big hair, Beth Moore.  I think what compounded my idea was that some people make fun of Texan women by talking about their hair.  For me to conclude, from ONE data point + hearsay, that all women from Texas have big hair is even worse than my Mary Kaye pre-conceived idea!  

So what do we do with those traditional sayings that get passed along?  Is there NO truth in them?

Just be more specific.  Instead of claiming “ALL this or that”….or even worse…. leaving off a quantifier altogether – (i.e. claiming “Mary Kaye women….Texan women….without the words – all/some/no/some…not), BE SPECIFIC and use that honest 4-letter word “SOME”.

Consider these assertions that are MORE honest if they can be backed up by at least one example:

  • ·         Some capitalists are dishonest.
  • ·         Some conservatives are not compassionate.
  • ·         Some liberals resort to name-calling.
  • ·         Some teens talk back to their parents.
  • ·         Some mothers-in-laws criticize constantly.
  • ·         Some Americans are not fat.

Your HW for the coming week is this – try practicing awareness of your own thoughts or speech:

          What Sweeping or Hasty Generalizations do you tend to make routinely?

How to hold onto your money, using logic

3 Jul

Advertisers count on the fact that we don’t understand basic logic! 

They appeal to our desire to be like the ‘beautiful people’. And we fall for their offer to transform our ordinary lives into something more exotic, like the people we admire.

Take for instance the lucrative business of make-up.  What woman DOESN’T want to look better?  So we fall for emotional appeals to browse Sephora or use a product, convinced that if we do, we’ll look more like our favorite model/actress.

Here’s what these companies count on.  They make a statement like:

·         All models use La-di-dah Lipstick

What goes unstated explicitly (but they count on you to implicitly absorb it) is the false corollary:

·         All women who use La-di-dah Lipstick (just might end up being gals who…) are models

In symbolic form that is saying

·         All S is P……All P is S         where  S = Women who use LL   and             P = Models

But one CAN’T just interchange the subject and the predicate and have the converse be true.
Let’s suppose that Cindy wants to look like her favorite model who uses La-di-dah Lipstick.  She believes the advertising and emotionally responds with the belief, ” If I buy and use La-di-dah Lipstick, maybe I’ll be a model too!”

Unfortunately, the advertisers have NOT given Cindy enough information in their claim for her to know if this is true.

Here’s what the first proposition (claim)  and our dilemma look like:

All models use LLAnswering that question in the above diagram: “No, we do NOT know to which group Cindy belongs if she uses their product L.L.”

 You can easily see for yourself that the two propositions are not equivalent if you just switch the S and the P

  All women who use LL are modelsThis drawing shows that all women who use La-di-dah Lipstick are in fact models.  Remember, the diagrams are different and the marketing claims are different.  ( in fact – our advertisers will NOT state the latter, that All women who use their product will be models – they can’t guarantee that at all!)

But as I said above, marketing  managers want to by-pass your rational mind and get  right at your emotions in order to pry your fingers off of your hard-earned money and invest it in your pipe-dream, courtesy of their product!

Your homework for the week – watch for and see if you can spot the implicit lies bandied about in commercials, either on TV or in print.  Let us know of a particularly blatant one!