Stupid Supposedly Smart Folks and their Prejudices

The educated and the intellectually liberated like to think of themselves as unprejudiced – above judging people based on sweeping generalisations or pre-programmed assumptions. What they actually do is to rationalise their prejudices.

J. had a recent conversation with two juniors, one male, one female, from medical school. On the way to the SGH staff carpark, the conversation somehow turned to, “So J., what JC were you from?” Well, J. was from HC, and wasn’t afraid to say so. The female makes a slight face, the male goes, “Really, ah? Well, you look like you’re from HC.”

By the way, M (for male) was from VJC and F (for female) was from RJC.

Oh sure. All RG girls are chor lor, all SCGS girls are dair, all NY girls need to learn to shave their armpits, all convent girls are lesbians, all TCHS boys are communists, all AC boys are rich playboys. Easy generalisations… none of which is true or means a damn. Yet ones that even supposedly educated folks believe at a subconscious level.

J. wasn’t happy. He feels no reason to apologise for being from HCI, one of the premier educational institutions, and fails to understand why people have that misconception that being from HCI makes them somewhat inferior.

M reveals that HCI folks are “cheena” and F says that the HCI folks from their batch in medicine are all geeky.

J. points out that it’s a common misconception that HC folks are cheena, which isn’t true, and asks for examples as to who is “geeky” in their batch.

M: “Well… there’s RandomDude. Except that’s he seems more like he’s from RJC. Not really like from HC.”
F: “Quite hard to think of any other, we don’t really know the others one very well.”
J: “So you guys say that all HC guys from your batch are geeky, and the only example you can list isn’t? And you say it’s like he’s from RJC?”

This is a classic example of rationalisation and circular thinking.

Statement: All people from HC are geeky
Proof: I only notice the geeky people from HC, and automatically exclude the classification of non-geeky HC people into my personal “HC mindset”. Therefore, everybody from HC is geeky!

Brilliant. Simply brilliant.

Don’t think it’s just about schools or elitism. The same thinking is employed (often by the same people) to race. All Malays are laidback slackers, all Chinese are money-grubbing, all Bangladeshi are lowly workers, all Indian immigrants are criminals waiting to happen. These people’ll justify their prejudices by saying that all the people of the race they’ve noticed fit their generalisations… only because they’re the only ones they notice. They don’t notice the Bangladeshi OB/GYN professor, the Indians who’re more hardworking and pleasant than the locals, the high-flying Malay businessmen, the altruistic Chinese just because these don’t fit into their convenient worldview.

Really enlightened.


2 responses to this post.

  1. (okay what’s wrong with HC! am i geeky! you tell me!)
    i think those stereotypes are only going to worsen with all the schools going through-train.


  2. (yes! every single one! all geeky!)
    good point, had forgotten all about that. well, through-train’s not all bad, at least now HCI has scrapped the famous garishly yellow-and-red attires.

    i didn’t mind them at the time.


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