Headlines are part of our news problem

No one has time to read every article. We read synopses, abstracts, tweets, and headlines to get the gist of what’s happening. To save time and space we take a pernicious short-cut. We say Republicans when we mean many or some Republicans. We say ‘the left’ when we mean many, most, or some on the left. We say women when we mean some-but-not-all women.

This is the fallacy of composition.

Description: Inferring that something is true of the whole from the fact that it is true of some part of the whole. This is the opposite of the fallacy of division.

Logical Form:

A is part of B
A has property X
Therefore, B has property X.

Until we can be more specific and accurate with our civic language we will never cross the communication divide. If I want to get a better understanding of conservative arguments, I reject them immediately when they that something is true of ‘the left’ or liberals, that I do not believe.

Civic communication, on a broad scale, will improve if we, and the headline writers of the world, follow the simple maxim — Be Specific.

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