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1 Stereotyping defended on Sat Apr 24, 2010 11:56 am

sara

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We all have some sort of prejudice, I really enjoyed this controversial article, somehow I agree with a lot of it, what are your thoughts?
''Most people feel that stereotyping is wrong and unfair.

Why should one person be affected by the actions or qualities of the rest of his or her demographic? Of course, people are individuals with their own moral values (or lack of), intelligence, and talents. Stereotyping is, however, a method that people use, consciously or subconsciously, as an efficient way of economizing on information costs.

For example, if somebody offered you $1 million to solve a complex mathematical problem and, furthermore, you could choose anybody on a university campus to help you, I doubt you would choose the Paris Hilton–type sorority girl or the Abercrombie and Fitch–wearing fraternity boy. Now consider the young man wearing glasses and a pocket protector in his short-sleeve, button-down shirt: would you not think that he is a better bet?

If you were a soccer coach and had to draft a player for your team and the only information you had was that Player A is from Brazil and Player B is from the United States, who would you choose?

Finally, assume that you are walking down the street and you have only two choices — either walk on the left side of the street or the right side of the street. Before you choose, you notice that on the left side there are ten tattooed, muscular men with shaved heads walking and talking together, while on the right side you see ten "clean-cut" men wearing dress shirts and ties carrying Bibles. Now, what would you do?

If you chose the "nerdy" student with the pocket protector in the first scenario, the Brazilian player in the second scenario, and the right side of the street in the third scenario, are you being immoral or "prejudiced"? In fact, what does the word "prejudice" really mean? One of the definitions that is normally overlooked is "a preconceived preference or idea." In other words, prejudice simply means pre-judging.

Of course you may not be correct in your judgment, and your later judgments will be affected by the success or failure of the accuracy of your forecasts. But the alternative is to use a completely random basis on which to make pre-judgments, which is very silly and probably impossible.

In his article "Non Politically Correct Thinking", my former professor and economist Dr. Walter Williams argued

"… that going to the word's Latin root, to pre-judge simply means: making decisions on the basis of incomplete information. Here's an example. Suppose leaving your workplace you see a full-grown tiger standing outside the door. Most people would endeavor to leave the area in great dispatch. That prediction isn't all that interesting but the question is why. Is your decision to run based on any detailed information about that particular tiger or is it based on tiger folklore and how you've seen other tigers behaving? It's probably the latter. You simply pre-judge that tiger; you stereotype him. If you didn't pre-judge and stereotype that tiger, you'd endeavor to obtain more information, like petting him on the head and doing other friendly things to determine whether he's dangerous. Most people quickly calculate that the likely cost of an additional unit of information about the tiger exceeded any benefit and wouldn't bother to seek additional information. In other words, all they need to know is he's a tiger."

Acquiring information is costly. Moreover, we assume that rational people economize. As beings who want to get the "biggest bang for their buck," people will apply this rational behavior to information as well. Assuming that I am that person who, when he sees a tiger running at him, gets scared and tries to run to safety, am I being unfair or prejudiced? If I hear there is a murderer in my neighborhood, am I prejudiced if I start looking around the neighborhood for a suspicious looking male rather than a female?

This topic of course has implications when it comes to social policy. After 9/11, the Transportation Security Administration agents at airports, to show that they were impartial, would pull aside old ladies and little children to make sure that they were not carrying dangerous items that could lead to terrorism.

I can recall that one time when I was traveling, a TSA agent pulled aside a young blonde girl for additional screening rather than checking the adult men that were going on that flight. Did it make me feel safer to know that politics and not security was foremost on the mind of the screeners? Not particularly.

Providing security requires the use of scarce means. In a world of imperfect knowledge, economizing on information is a tool that should not have to be defended.

In another important area, government's interventionist policies in the labor market can make the bad kind of discrimination we normally think about more prevalent. For example, European Union countries have very strict laws on firing people compared to the United States. Because of this, it is more costly for a firm to hire somebody.

Now, if I am an employer and I know that I am stuck with a worker once I hire him, don't you think I will be more likely to economize on information (i.e., discriminate) before I hire him? Conversely, in a free-market, I will be more likely to take a risk on somebody and give him a chance (and not indulge my initial "prejudices") because I know if he ends up being a poor selection, I can easily fire him. Those who advocate "fair labor laws" had better be careful what they ask for.

Economics affects our everyday lives. Economics can be viewed as the study of individual human actors making choices. Of course, people should not be rude to others based on looks, race, or gender. I also know that there are a lot of ignorant, mean-spirited people who assume things about others that are completely baseless. But in the market economy, they also pay a price for being wrong.

Let us remember that we live in a world of scarcity, that economizing on information can be efficient, and that sometimes the reason stereotypes exist is because, well, they're true.

By the way, I am half-Hispanic and half-Middle Eastern. I am not your "stereotypical" WASP — but I'm sure you didn't think that while reading my article … right? ''

by Ninos Malek
Thursday, August 24, 2006

Ninos Malek is a graduate student in the Economics Department at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

2 Re: Stereotyping defended on Sat Apr 24, 2010 7:10 pm

Golden Girl

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This was an interesting analysis, thanks for this article Sara. Clearly demonstrating on several simple, yet effective examples of how we all tend to have some form of prejudice. Not necessarily to be mean-spirited (as though there are definitely plenty of those) but perhaps part of humanity's nature to judge beforehand or prematurely in order to attempt in making effective decisons.Risking the consequences of our own prejudgments.

I liked how she had ended the article when she stated "By the way, I am half-Hispanic and half-Middle Eastern. I am not your "stereotypical" WASP — but I'm sure you didn't think that while reading my article … right? ''. I really liked how she had pointed that out, as we even form an image or images in our minds even about the writer who is writing an article such as this.


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3 Re: Stereotyping defended on Sat Apr 24, 2010 10:45 pm

LiteNYellow

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Really good article that you've posted Sara. I think stereotyping happens more often than we think or would like to admit. Question. Do you think some stereotypes are true, and if there are good and bad stereotypes?

4 Re: Stereotyping defended on Sun Apr 25, 2010 8:57 am

sara

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Golden Girl wrote:I liked how she had ended the article when she stated "By the way, I am half-Hispanic and half-Middle Eastern. I am not your "stereotypical" WASP — but I'm sure you didn't think that while reading my article … right? ''. I really liked how she had pointed that out, as we even form an image or images in our minds even about the writer who is writing an article such as this.
I also liked the ending, even reading this I was astonished how much I agree with it but at the end I also had my prejudice about the writer.

5 Re: Stereotyping defended on Sun Apr 25, 2010 9:08 am

sara

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LiteNYellow wrote:Really good article that you've posted Sara. I think stereotyping happens more often than we think or would like to admit. Question. Do you think some stereotypes are true, and if there are good and bad stereotypes?
I guess so many factors play in our own prejudice we don't know why we have these prejudice or stereotyping but we do.
In some cases it pays to have these prejudice, like the tiger example, would you run or wait to find out what the tiger will do?

6 Re: Stereotyping defended on Mon Apr 26, 2010 2:22 pm

MAHARANI

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Well I will tell you my answer once I have well and truly LEGGED it !!! LOL


.

7 Re: Stereotyping defended on Mon Apr 26, 2010 9:44 pm

Golden Girl

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lol..well, I guess I would be quite prejudiced towards the tiger and scram...then again they can run quite fast so I would have to try and find and climb a high area that they can't reach.

Would you consider prejudice to be self-learned and taught, or just part of our nature and is not learned behavior?
More subconscious or conscious?


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8 Re: Stereotyping defended on Tue Apr 27, 2010 12:27 am

skin lighten beauty


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I think we are born with prejudice. Maybe that's how we try to judge from what's best or bad for us, but it can turn ugly too.

9 Re: Stereotyping defended on Tue Apr 27, 2010 6:09 am

MAHARANI

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I also think that part of it is also down to what we are bombarded with and what may have been a previous experience.

For example, there have been a lot of murders in the UK amongst young people and a lot of them have been young black boys. So if you hear that there has been a teenage murder, there is an automatic assumption that it is another black male. However, just recently there have been several teenagers who have been white and also girls, so hopefully this assumption can be dismissed if it happens again, which I pray it does not. The saddest thing I read yesterday was that a young white boy was killed last week and what is sad, is that he had been on a march regarding the murder of a girl in the same area only 3 weeks before.

.

10 Re: Stereotyping defended on Wed Apr 28, 2010 2:24 am

LiteNYellow

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MAHARANI wrote:I also think that part of it is also down to what we are bombarded with and what may have been a previous experience.

For example, there have been a lot of murders in the UK amongst young people and a lot of them have been young black boys. So if you hear that there has been a teenage murder, there is an automatic assumption that it is another black male. However, just recently there have been several teenagers who have been white and also girls, so hopefully this assumption can be dismissed if it happens again, which I pray it does not. The saddest thing I read yesterday was that a young white boy was killed last week and what is sad, is that he had been on a march regarding the murder of a girl in the same area only 3 weeks before.

.

That's very sad an ironic. He was killed during the march or was it ater?

11 Re: Stereotyping defended on Wed Apr 28, 2010 6:22 am

MAHARANI

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It is very sad. He attended the march for this young lady that he knew from his area and then 3 weeks later he was murdered himself. To think that he had no idea that his face would be very soon displayed on the TV and papers, just like hers, just seems unimaginable. They have already held a vigil for him and the locations of where they were both killed is so very close.
.
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12 Re: Stereotyping defended on Wed Apr 28, 2010 6:38 am

Golden Girl

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That is so sad. Life is too precious and unpredictable,because you never know when your last will be. I know it must have been difficult for his friends and family. Was he killed in relation to stereotyping or was it due to other reasons?


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13 Re: Stereotyping defended on Wed Apr 28, 2010 7:33 am

MAHARANI

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I only mentioned these two cases because I was saying that I believe that it has almost become the norm in the UK to expect a teenage murder to have it's victim, turn out to be a black male. Yet just recently there have been white males and girls being murdered.

Both of these recent murders have not been given a motive as yet and there is just hearsay and speculation, as I don't believe anyone has been arrested.

14 Re: Stereotyping defended on Wed Apr 28, 2010 7:03 pm

Kandiluv

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I hope they find the motives. Yet with or without a motive they have something taken away they can never have back.

15 Re: Stereotyping defended on Thu Apr 29, 2010 7:57 am

MAHARANI

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Do you know I am always thinking what was the motive? I have to know why, because I need to have some sort of understanding as to why people behave the way they do. Sadly most reasons, make absolutly no sense anyway. To me unless you have killed someone that I love, what possible reason can I have to want to take your life, other than in trying to defend my own.

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16 Re: Stereotyping defended on Thu Apr 29, 2010 9:52 am

Emo chik

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I think stereotyping and prejudice is mainly self-learned from our environments. Sometimes there may not even be a motive, other than someone being in the wrong place at the wrong time and become victim. A robbery or something could be wrong with them mentally also possible. But, to kill someone for no reason is just crazy.

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