All the chewy goodness of fallacious reasoning in new fun-sized bites!

A hasty generalization is when one fallaciously infers “a conclusion about an entire class of things from inadequate knowledge of some of its members.”[1] Usually hasty generalizations entail fallacious statistical or inductive generalizations; in other words, based on insufficient examples a fallacious extrapolation is made.

For example:

Jimmy Swaggart is a Christian and was exposed as hypocritical and untrustworthy in the past.
Jim Bakker is a Christian and was also exposed as hypocritical and untrustworthy in the past.
Christians are hypocritical and untrustworthy.

The hypothetical speaker has only given two examples as evidence to justify a sweeping classification of all Christians as hypocritical and untrustworthy. However, since there are upwards of two billion Christians in the world, two examples are hardly sufficient to make such a categorical assertion. Christians take note: It is very easy to make hasty generalizations and we are not immune. Beware of making hasty generalizations with regard to non-believers or their ideas. For the same reasons that they fail when non-believers make them against Christians, they likewise fail against non-believers. Take great care in your thinking when engaging others.

The best way to point out someone’s fallacy is by using the Columbo tactic as laid out in the Funsized Tactics series. There are plenty of excellent resources available in book, e-book, or PDF format. Two good places to start, with regard to formal and informal fallacies, are A Preface to Philosophy by Mark B. Woodhouse and Schaum’s Outlines: Logic by John Nolt, Dennis Rohatyn, and Achille Varzi.

[1] John Nolt, Dennis Rohatyn, and Achille Varzi, Schaum’s Outlines: Logic, 2nd ed. (New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies, 2011), 209.