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Avoiding Overgeneralization and Oversimplification in Academ

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Jeffery Moy

on 26 September 2017

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Transcript of Avoiding Overgeneralization and Oversimplification in Academ

Avoiding Overgeneralization and Oversimplification in Academic Writing
Has anyone ever gotten into a fight with a loved one and said something in anger that wasn’t true?

If so, what did you say?
Have you heard of Donald Trump?

-He is famous for the TV show Celebrity Apprentice and the phrase, “You’re fired.”

Have you ever heard a politician say anything that wasn’t true?

Can you give an example?

What is your reaction to what
he said?
"When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best," he said. "They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems to us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists.
And some, I assume, are good people."
Donald Trump is wrong about immigrants and crime.
The Washington Post


— "[I]mmigrants are underrepresented in California prisons compared to their representation in the overall population. In fact, U.S.-born adult men are incarcerated at a rate over two-and-a-half times greater than that of foreign-born men." (Public Policy Institute of California, 2008.)

— "[D]ata from the census and a wide range of other empirical studies show that for every ethnic group without exception, incarceration rates among young men are lowest for immigrants, even those who are the least educated. This holds true especially for the Mexicans, Salvadorans and Guatemalans, who make up the bulk of the undocumented population." (Ruben Rumbaut, University of California, 2008. Published by the Police Foundation.)


"This is an absolutely disgraceful situation and I am the
one that can fix it," Mr Trump said in a statement. "
else has the guts to even talk about it. That won’t happen if I become President. The American people deserve a wall to protect our jobs, economy and our safety."


Two weeks after he drew criticism for calling Mexicans crossing the U.S. border drug dealers and “rapists” while announcing his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination, the billionaire businessman said he wouldn’t take the comments back.
“No, because it’s
totally accurate
,” Trump said in an interview Tuesday with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly.
Ruben Diaz Jr. blasts Trump's comments on Mexican immigrants - NY Daily News

The bromance is over between
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
and GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Calling Trump’s recent inflammatory words about Mexican immigrants
“disgusting ... reprehensible ... unacceptable, (and) offensive,”
Diaz blasted the comb-over king on Monday — six weeks after heaping praise on Trump for his speedy work on the Bronx golf course.

“There were people such as myself who put our reputations on the line and supported (Trump) and stood next to him, and when he says words like this, it affects us very deeply, it affects the borough, and he should apologize,” the Bronx borough president said Monday.

“We have 130,000 Mexicans here; hardworking, family-oriented, people of faith, people who want nothing more than to live the American dream,” Diaz noted, adding that Trump owed them all an apology.

Question for Discussion:

What exactly, in academic terms, is wrong with what Trump said?

"When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best," he said. "They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."
Premise: the starting point of an argument,
a statement or idea upon which an argument is based,
a proposition from which a conclusion is drawn, a statement which is assumed to be true.

Two Important Lessons about Academic Writing.

-Avoid overgeneralizations.

-Avoid oversimplifications.

Not like this:

Americans are fat.

Like this:

Most Americans are overweight
and a high percentage of them, approximately one out of three, are obese.

Not like this:

Americans are materialistic.

Like this:

In general, most Americans are more concerned with materialistic possessions than spiritual values.


Most Americans are more focused on making money than being spiritual.

Beware of….





Be careful with words such as
always, never, all, and none.

Be careful with superlatives such as
best, worst, and greatest.

Avoid Oversimplification.

Beware of oversimplification of cause and effect relationships.

Not like this:
Divorce causes children to use drugs.

Why is this sentence an oversimplification?

Like this:
A. Children from divorced families have a tendency to experiment with illegal drugs because of the trauma caused by living in a dysfunctional family.

B. Teenagers who suffer from the pain of divorce are inclined to experiment with illegal drugs.

C. Teens who come from divorced families have a high probability of experimenting with illegal drugs to mask their emotional pain.

D. Compared to teens from relatively healthy families, teenagers from divorced homes are more likely to try illegal drugs to numb their emotional pain caused by the painful trauma of the break up of their family.

Which of the above examples is the best? Which is the worst?

Rewrite the following sentences by making them more accurate. Avoid overgeneralizations and oversimplifications.

Alcohol is dangerous.
Educated people make more money than uneducated people.
All the new music that teenagers listen to is horrible.
Dallas is boring.
The United States loves war.
Computers make life more complicated.
Lawyers are liars.
Never trust the government.
Fast food is unhealthy.
Nobody cares about poor people.
Politicians are fake.
Religion is illogical.
Watching television is a waste of time.
Watching television makes life better.

"I don’t see how there is any room for misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the statement I made on June 16th during my Presidential announcement speech," Trump wrote, adding, "What can be simpler or more accurately stated? The Mexican Government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States. They are,
in many cases
, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc."
Donald Trump just released an epic statement raging against Mexican immigrants and 'disease'


Jul. 6, 2015, 4:47 PM

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/donald-trumps-epic-statement-on-mexico-2015-7#ixzz3fHDN9fL8
A Few Days Later....
Nobody's Lonesome for Me
- Hank Williams
Full transcript