Propaganda Guidelines: Selected Instances vs. Hasty Generalization

This is the another in a series of Coaching Tips pointing out important distinctions made in the new Propaganda Guide. This one deals with Selected Instances and Hasty Generalization in Section E.

Selected Instances resembles Hasty Generalization in that both involve general statements and particular examples. With Selected Instances, the speaker starts with the conclusion and selects instances to “prove” it. With Hasty Generalization, the speaker has no opinion to start with but, after noticing several instances, jumps to a conclusion. In either case, the general statement may appear first or later. The question is whether the speaker made up his or her mind before choosing examples or after noticing particular cases.

Example of Selected Instances rather than Hasty Generalization
Fact: Ford Pintos exploded upon impact.
Fact: GM put Chevy V-8 engines into their Oldsmobile’s and Cadillac’s without telling the owners.
Fact: Chrysler had to secure federal government loans to keep from going bankrupt. 
How can anyone trust American-made cars?
Comment: The conclusion is stated last. However, this is Selected Instances because the speaker attempts to justify a prior belief by citing negative examples and ignoring positive evidence about U.S. cars.

Example of Hasty Generalization rather than Selected Instances
I’ve bought several things advertised on TV and have never yet been satisfied with one of these products. TV ads always lie about their products.
Comment: Presumably, the speaker had no preconceived notion about TV ads or he would not have purchased any TV-advertised products in the first place. However, dissatisfied with the products, he generalizes that “TV ads always lie about their products.”

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