Prejudice can be beneficial. Approaching all pans on a stove or dishes in a microwave as though they were hot; all guns as though they were loaded; all Mass Media Podpeople, politicians and Academia Nut Fruitcakes as though they were pathological liars: these and other prejudicial positions can prevent a lot of pain and injury.
Prejudice is simply a way of classifying and understanding the world around us. How the word has come to mean in common parlance what it now seems to is a long and torturous story left as an exercise for the reader. My point is that prejudging individuals who classify themselves (or objects or situations that fall into readily discernible classes) is something we all do as a matter of course. And it’s something we MUST do, or else be stranded on the highway of life, bogged down in the paralysis of analysis from moment to moment in our lives, while the SUV rolls right on over us.
And it will, you know, if we don’t dodge out of the way.
After all, yeh, that particular SUV driver might not be an idiot, but why take chances? Besides, if the first SUV driver to come along isn’t an idiot, the next one is sure to be…
You get the point.
For example, I’ve yet to read an argument for human-caused global warming that was not so laughably full of holes that it only succeeded as an insult to any literate person of average intelligence. Thus, my automatic prejudice against global warmists as liars or idiots or both. So, I’m automatically predisposed to be cynical–not merely skeptical, as was once the case–whenever some loon opens his mouth and utters in Chicken Little screeches, “The Earth is doomed!” If global warmists (climate alarmists, whatever) want to convince me, they have to first overcome that (justifiable) prejudice toward disbelief of a class that is made up of proven liars, fools (or both).
In fact, most of my prejudice of classes of people is based on those two criteria: liars and/or fools populate a particular class; persons who class themselves with those liars and/or fools are autiomatically assigned the characteristic of liars/fools until they overwhelmingly demonstrate otherwise.
That’s certainly prejudicial, but note: it’s based on both observations of the class(es) and on individuals’ self-classification. Show me a politician who is not a liar and a poltroon, and I’ll say one (or both) of two things: Just wait. Maybe not yet… and/or An exception proving (as in “testing” or “proofing”) the rule. (As I noted in a “town hall” metting with a U.S. Senator once: there is a vast chasm separating “political reality” and real reality… )
Show me a Mass Media Podperson who is not a liar/fool and I’ll say, You don’t understand the classification of Mass Media Podpeople. By definition, MMPs all spout the Hivemind ethos. Therefore, there can be no MMPs who are not both liars and fools. Some even manage to be assimilated into the Hivemind to the degree that they become mindless idiots making the “Couric, Couric, Couric” cries of the hopelessly Hiveminded. Those (obviously) become news anchors and Hivemind pundits, as a general rule.