Bloggers And Generalizations

Filed as Uncategorized on February 27, 2007 2:01 pm

Bloggers are fond of making sweeping statements, according to an observation by Lifespy blogger Alex Maximo on his personal blog. He says these generalizations tend to lead to unsound arguments, especially if absolutes are used, because these are tantamount to logical fallacies.

I do observe that some bloggers (myself included) are very much liable to commit sweeping statements. It’s a fallacy that’s quite common to commit. I know teachers of college freshman English will be so frustrated knowing that a good number of their spawns are going against the rules of academic writing. And it’s just one of the many inductive fallacies and all the other logical fallacies that one can commit in writing.

Alex cites two possibilities why this is so, and it’s either to claim authority or escape ignorance. Blog posts do sound more authoritative and credible when a blogger seems sure of what he’s writing about. And if a blogger is not so knowledgeable about a topic, he can qualify statements with the use of “some” or “a few.” I guess this is to be on the safe side.

So what’s worse: using absolutes like “everyone” or “never” or using a vague quantifier like “some” or “a few”? Either way, these indicate poor research. Or at least the use of vague quantifiers makes for impotent writing.

Then again, Alex is approaching things from the perspective of academic discourse. We cannot expect all bloggers to be excellent in English, nor in argumentation. A lot of blogs are narrative, and bloggers don’t intend to treat their writings as gospel truth. There are also literary/creative writing blogs, in which the usual rules of logic don’t necessarily apply. Still, it pays to practice good copy writing, especially if you want to bring across your points clearly.

This very post itself is probably guilty of making sweeping generalizations about bloggers. Perhaps I should rephrase the first sentence to say some bloggers are fond of making sweeping statements.

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  1. By billg posted on February 27, 2007 at 9:04 pm
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    People tend to make sweeping generalizations. Usually, only the people we’re talking to hear us. Blogging gives the same people — us — the means to publish the same sweeping generalizations without the intervening benefit of an editor to call them on it.

    Blogging certainly increases the visibility of our little epistles, but I’m begging to doubt it does anything more than that.

  2. By Alex posted on February 27, 2007 at 10:02 pm
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    I agree with BILLG. Much of the character of blog writing comes from the fact that it’s unrefereed. In the absence of the editor, there’s no secondary authority to the work. As a result, blog writing seems to be more productive in terms of creativity. However, it somehow falls short of credibility, much like Wikipedia versus theses and dissertations. I, myself, let typos and grammar lapses slide. I think it’s because of the urgency of posting ASAP to assure yourself of “hot news” rather than posting a polished work.