Calling an idea a “stereotype” does not refute it. If one believes, for example, that atheists tend to be rich and white, one doesn’t deny the existence of middle-class, impoverished and non-white atheists. Nor does one say that all rich white people are atheists. Nor does one say that all atheists are 2-dimensional figures made from one mold. One simply means that, in one’s own experience and the experience of others, most atheists have fit a certain pattern––in this case, being wealthy and white.

A stereotype is, more often than not, the end product of prolonged pattern recognition. It is a simplified observation. Reality might be more complicated, but the stereotype is true enough to be serviceable and useful in daily life. And one cannot be analyzing reality all the time. If your car breaks down in a rough neighborhood, you will start using stereotypes, whether you like it or not.

It is also simple to prove or disprove many stereotypes. Examine the data as if you were Spock. If a stereotype is blatantly false, it will often be easy to see, through crime rates, illegitimacy rates, achievement rates and so on. If it’s confirmed, it isn’t the end of the world.

For example, it’s long been a stereotype that Irishmen are alchoholics. This stereotype is based on fact, not fancy. There are Irish people who don’t drink, who don’t like to drink or who can drink responsibly. But if you are Irish, you’re at greater risk for developing alcoholism than a Spaniard or Italian. It doesn’t mean you will––but it doesn’t mean you should ignore this risk as if it doesn’t exist.

Stereotype hysteria denies people the vital ability to evaluate strengths and weaknesses given to them and their family. Knowing that you are genetically predisposed to alcoholism, depression, low intelligence, high intelligence or cancer is very important if you are looking to have children. It is far more important than giving people a wishy-washy feeling of everyone being more or less the same.

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