All Celebrities Say Stupid Things, and Other Overgeneralizations

When grading college papers, I often find myself writing "Don't overgeneralize" in the margins of my students' essays (in red ink, of course). This is in reaction to such statements as this: "Since the dawn of time, all playwrights have used irony effectively, but none have used it as well as Sophocles, the greatest of all ancient Greek writers, in his masterpiece of dramatic literature, Oedipus Rex." Overgeneralizing simplifies ideas and leads to misinformed and misguided statements.

Recent news stories are filled with overgeneralizations, so the problem seems to have gone beyond college campuses. For instance, Paris Hilton was caught on tape saying that gay men are "the horniest people in the world" and Grindr users "probably have AIDS." Paris has since backed off these comments and apologized, so perhaps we should give her a pass on this one. We can think of her initial comments as a first draft. She has since revised before handing in her final paper. (Imagine, Paris Hilton writing a college essay! LOL!)

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