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Generalizations

By Merrill Ogden - | Nov 16, 2022

As I recall, I was in a high school English class when I was taught about “sweeping generalizations” and “hasty generalizations.”

A sweeping generalization is when one takes a presumed general rule and believes that it applies to everything or everyone. For example: Someone in Colorado has heard that “All drivers in Utah are idiots.” That might be “confirmed” by the Colorado driver when encountering one driver in Vernal who doesn’t use their turn signal.

An example of a hasty generalization would be someone saying: “New Jersey is an asphalt jungle. It’s totally urban and full of industry and crowded freeways.” This is taking something specific and without adequate evidence applying it to the situation generally.

A person who has been to New Jersey and makes a comment like that, has possibly only been to Newark and nowhere else.

There’s a reason New Jersey is called “The Garden State.”

My wife was born in New Jersey and we were there in June and visited relatives in the south. It is very rural and beautiful.

Both generalizations involve jumping to conclusions. Many of us make judgments about people or situations based on limited knowledge.

Having said all of that, let me get to what sparked these thoughts in my mind recently. I do sometimes try to get to a point once in a while. (We may not be as close as you might hope.)

Recently, I read a story in the Deseret News online edition written by Lee Benson. He’s been around a long time and I think he’s a good writer. The piece he wrote was an update on Frank Layden and his wife Barbara. Frank, as many of you will remember, was the legendary NBA Jazz team manager, coach, etc. who was hired by the team when they moved here from New Orleans.

The Laydens adopted Salt Lake City as their home and live in a high-rise condo downtown. Frank is 90 and some of his jokes are still remembered. He used to make fun of himself in lots of ways. He’d say, “I happen to have an absolutely beautiful body. The only problem is, that it’s inside this one.”

Frank recounted the story of Jazz superstar Karl Malone giving him a new Toyota car for Father’s Day. Barbara still drives it.

At the end of the online article, readers can make comments. Several people made positive comments about how good it was to catch up on the Laydens and how great it was to have them still in town, etc.

Then one reader, out of “left field,” only said that the team should have changed their name, “Utah is not associated with jazz music, New Orleans is. People in Utah are not even aware of what this genre of music is all about”

When I read that, I got fired up just a little bit and posted a reply to the comment. I pointed out that the owners wanted to retain the team name so that the hoped-for success would show people that it was the same team. And, I said, Los Angeles isn’t necessarily known for its lakes. (The Lakers moved from Minnesota – Land of 10,000 Lakes)

And, Utah is not a jazz music desert. It’s, of course, not New Orleans, but, you can find live jazz in Salt Lake every night of the week. I posted a computer link in my comments which evidenced that.

And, Snow College has an excellent jazz music program. I kind of went on and on.

To irritate me further, the guy (I presume a guy. Let me generalize: females aren’t that stupid) posted again: “Yet, it’s true. Utahns know nothing about jazz music.”

The repeated generalization made me a little crazy and I decided it was best to not engage any further. In my smoldering frustration, within a few days, I went to a jazz concert at Snow College with friends who are real jazz music fans.

Drummer legend Mike Clark (played with Herbie Hancock at one time) was there with the students and it was quite the show. I sat there thinking, that not only are there plenty of people in Utah who know jazz music, but there are plenty right here in little ol’ Sanpete!

Now you know why generalizations were on my mind. I wonder if this one is true? — “All generalizers are annoying to me.” — Merrill

P.S. In other news, the Snow College theater production of “The Diary of Anne Frank” runs through this Saturday. We saw it. It was well done.

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