Most, not All

Posted: July 20, 2020 in Blog
Tags: , ,

“All men are pigs.” “All women are bitches.” “All rich people are evil.” “All poor people are just criminals in training.”

We’ve heard it all. Or most of it. Haven’t we? And often the reply arises that not “all” of the selected category are that way. Most of us know someone that doesn’t fall under that stereotype. But what happens?

“Of course, I know all (x) are not (y). We all know that. You know I didn’t literally mean all, so stop trying to derail the issue!”

It is a detour, and it doesn’t benefit discussion, awareness, and change. I suppose we could all accept the rule that “all” doesn’t always mean “all”, but why? There are plenty of words out there that should accurately show the meaning. If you don’t mean “all”, why are you using that word?

Do you feel you are not able to properly convey your point without the word “all”? Do you not realize this is potentially hyperbole and almost certainly inaccurate? It’s easy to ignore hyperbole. It sounds propagandastic. 

Marginalizing the response that not “all” are (x) is dismissive. It is akin to holding up a hand or plugging your ears. Instead of trying to set up some predetermined script that 1. You didn’t literally mean “all”, and 2. Of course we “all” know you don’t mean “all”, then why not try something else?

Is the word “all” used in order to grab the attention? Is it used to help the point pack more punch? If so, and especially with the foreknowledge that it is inaccurate, then it is propaganda.

Try this:

  • most
  • nearly all
  • a vast majority of

Perhaps it may help your point if you sound more accurate, dare I say, even less alarming? Of course, if you’re not really trying to initiate awareness and change, it may not matter. If you’re just preaching to the choir, they may all listen. It’s possible.

 

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