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Sterotypes and Negative Effects

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Stereotypes have an overall negative effect on the public. The rhetoric that surrounds them has generally a negative function, even when used in a positive way. It does not matter where you come from or where you live, somehow, someway, you will be affected by or know someone who is affected by the social beliefs known as stereotypes. A stereotype, quite simply, is a preconceived, often untrue, belief about a group of people.

I myself have been known for my past use of stereotypes. I live in a small place known as Madison, Maine and we are accustomed to the term of rednecks. Many people believe most people that live in the south to be rednecks, however small rural areas throughout Maine have been subjected to this term too. The term redneck has been used to describe rural, working-class, white male Southerners as uncouth, irresponsible, reactionary and racist. The ad hominem fallacy works well with this example because it's defined as, "The ad hominem fallacy comes from the Latin term for "to the person": that is, the conclusion is to be accepted or rejected because of the person (and the characteristics of that person) involved, rather than the actual argument, or reason(s), supporting the conclusion" (Mosser, 2011). Also it's a clear example because people are stereotyping northerners/southerner due to the fact that they were born and raised in the south/north. Many people that stereotype certain people as rednecks do not realize the affect that it can have on a person. Today's redneck stereotype is that of mostly men being white with a beer belly, drinks cheap American beer, goes hunting, fishing, likes NASCAR, has no teeth, has bad hygiene, eats road kill, and lives in the country. I am sure many have heard of the comedian Jeff Foxworthy who created "You might be a redneck if "jokes. These jokes have made many people reevaluate the definition of a redneck. Just because a person is from the south/north or small rural areas does not mean they are a redneck or consider being a redneck. Rednecks can come from both northern and southern cultures. Many will argue the reason they call people rednecks is because they like to hunt or go fishing. Others will say because they live in the country and are poor and live off the land. These arguments are not really sufficient arguments for one to have on why they call certain people rednecks.

Stereotyping can happen in numerous ways; one very cruel way of stereotyping would be stereotyping a person for being overweight. People often stereotype others because of beliefs they have learned from their parents or on their own. According to Philip Rudolph in his article, "Understanding And Overcoming Fallacies Of Thinking", he said, "Dealing with fallacies is not a simple task. A fallacy is not usually recognized as such; worse yet, the fallacies are dealt with as if they are based on sound evidence and fact. To avoid this, individuals involved in a discussion must be attuned to what is actually being said" (Rudolph, 1991 ). This makes sense when relating to the stereotype of obesity. People who make fun of people or stereotype those who are overweight really believe that their conclusions are based on sound evidence and facts. The False Cause (Post Hoc) Fallacy, I believe works on this example because it's defined as, "One thing causes another thing to happen, the first event, of course, precedes the second event. For instance, if I put a pot of water on very high heat and the water then boils, we generally are willing to say the heating of the water caused it to boil, however, just because one thing precedes another does not mean the first causes the second" (Mosser, 2011). For instance an obese person may have illnesses that cause there weight to be high, that would mean that their eating habits have no influence on their weight. Just because they are obese does not mean

that they eat a lot, it could have different causes.

Discriminating against a person because of one's weight can be a seriously hurtful and demeaning thing. Many people assume that the causes for being over weight are eating all day and rarely exercising. Some people call overweight people slobs or lazy, when in most instances this isn't the case. Some may have health problems that lead to being overweight, like a kidney disease or thyroid problems, or the person may even be suffering from a birth defect.

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