Possibly-accidental noncentral-fallacy arguments on people

By dkl9, written 2023-174, revised 2023-234 (1 revisions)

I don't much care about getting insulted in the typical sense. I am bothered, probably like most people's sense of offense, at some oft-accepted abuses of words described here. Those word abuses are more salient when describing a person, and much more so when targeting me.

Some people, seeing me barefoot, have called me crazy for it.

Others, seeing me weight-lift or do pull-ups, regard me as an athlete.

One of my affiliates — I call him an "affiliate" and not, say, a "friend", to avoid exactly this error — seeing dkl9.net, remarked that I'm now a blogger.

In these cases and others, I easily fit the main definitions of these categories. I write informal documents for the web, thus I'm a "blogger". I do very weird and suspected-harmful things for no clear reason, thus I'm "crazy". I exercise voluntarily and extensively, thus I'm an "athlete". None of these categories are necessarily insulting.

In these cases and others, I'm a very noncentral example of the categories. Categorisation serves to infer other qualities. You will make bad inferences about other qualities if you put something in a misleading category, i.e. a category in which it is far from the typical example.

If you think of me as crazy, you might assume that I, as many crazy people, make many externally-obvious errors in thought. I do not.

If you think of me as an athlete, you might assume that I, as many athletes, play or used to play organised sports. I do not.

If you think of me as a blogger, you might assume that I, as many bloggers, care about current events. I do not.

The examples are about me sith those are easier to think of, and others don't say much about this failure mode. Nevertheless, you might still make similar errors when describing others.

(I may be unusual in how many categories I technically fit into, but am very weird in)

If what technically defines a category is just a small part of the typical attributes of things in the category, hesitate to assign someone to such a category unless you can directly tell that they have many of those attributes. People may conform to limited parts of an attribute-cluster in unexpected ways.