Generalizing: Learn the Lessons of History, But Which Ones?

A few months before Katrina, I caught one of the early Mardi Gras parades in a rural town outside New Orleans. Race relations there seemed different from those here in Northern California. Blacks were more outgoing and friendly to whites, and yet there also seemed to be more racial segregation. At the parade, the floats and teams were strictly segregated. The only integration I saw was a few clusters of black and white teens. I watched a policeman go out of his way to harass a black youth who was hanging out with some white girls.

As I was heading back to my car I saw one group by a 7-11 and thought to ask them directly about the state of race relations. A white girl spoke for them all, “Oh, it’s getting better. The police still give you a hard time but it’s not bad.” I thanked her and walked toward my car feeling pleased and hopeful; it was good to hear from a like-minded youth who was transcending past bigotries.

The girl called me back. “You say you’re from San Francisco?” she asked.

“Are they still letting gays marry there? ‘Cause I think that’s so disgusting.”

OK, not entirely like-minded. She had learned a lesson about bigotry, but she hadn’t generalized it. Me, I’ve seen enough instances of destructive bigotry to extrapolate to a universal pattern. Bigotry against blacks, Jews, the Irish, the Italians, the Chinese, gays-I get it-no bigotry is acceptable. What you don’t do to blacks you don’t do to gays either.

In this election I’m hoping a disenchanted nation will do some careful generalizing. Too much focus on Bush and Cheney’s bad character distracts us from questions about what makes them bad. If we conclude that they’re just bad apples, then what’s to stop equally counterproductive people with different names and faces from taking their places?

Everyone says, “People who don’t learn the lessons of history are forced to repeat it,” but if that statement doesn’t miss the point completely, it just barely grazes it. Sure, we should try to learn lessons-but the real question is which lessons, what generalizations? From Stalin and Hitler should we generalize to no more leaders with mustaches? No more short people?

What we want, of course, is to generalize lessons from history that end up paying off in the future. Unfortunately, although that’s a great goal, it’s useless as a rule of thumb. The future isn’t here yet, so you can’t use it directly to guide your generalizations.

“Son, my advice to you is buy low, sell high, and always learn today what worked tomorrow.”

Still, our society’s accelerated progress over the past few centuries is largely a product of culture realizing that right generalization is the name of the game. Science and engineering are largely attempts to systematize the process of effective generalization. In the hope of promoting that process, however slightly, here are a few generalizations about generalization applied to the coming election.

Undergeneralizing: Sometimes we fail to learn because we fail to generalize at all. Bush voters who now criticize the president tend to defend their votes. Yes, Bush turned out to be a lemon, an exception to the otherwise fine products of the conservative movement. Gore, Kerry, and the whole liberal agenda would have been much worse. McCain will fix things. Abu Ghraib? A few bad low-level soldiers. There’s nothing to learn, no generalization to be drawn.

When McCain said the economic problem was caused by greedy people on Wall Street and that the answer was to fire the head of the SEC, he sounded like unsophisticated leftists I knew in the ’70s. The problem is a few greedy people leading big corporations. Replace them with un-greedy people like me and it will all be groovy.

Overgeneralizing: Litmus-test radicals think they’ve found the one or two factors from which you can generalize to everything you need to know about a candidate. A Christian? Anti-abortion? For gay marriage? Divorced? A loyal spouse? For change? A traditionalist? The Sufis say, “He who’s burnt by hot milk blows on ice cream.” Not all dairy products will burn you. And not all Christians are great leaders. To litmus-test radicals on the left or the right, expert status isn’t earned through careful analysis but through passionate self-certainty. They’ve found the one cause that matters. It’s a priority not because they’ve compared it to other issues but because they can make an impassioned argument for its intrinsic and isolated merit. “But don’t you see, it’s a fundamental right!”

Motivated generalization: An alcoholic ponders what’s causing those daily hangovers. Monday: gin and tonic; Tuesday: vodka and tonic; Wednesday: whiskey and tonic; Thursday: rum and tonic. Clearly it’s the tonic.

Generalization serves two masters. One is, of course, our future selves. We hope to learn history’s real lessons so we don’t have to repeat them. The other is our present gut instinct, which definitely prefers some lessons to others. The alcoholic’s future self wants to avoid future hangovers, but the alcoholic’s gut doesn’t want to discover that those hangovers are caused by alcohol rather than tonic.

Most Republicans don’t seem to want to consider the possibility that they’ve had a substantial chance to try their ideas out in the real world and that in general those ideas don’t work as well as they had hoped. Just this week, days after the $700 billion bailout was announced, I was probing a right-wing friend about the core values and principles that drive his beliefs. He’s for the bailout as the lesser of two evils. On core values, though, he proudly told me one thing he knows for sure. Liberal efforts to regulate the free market have failed over and over and should never be tried again. No mention of the possibility that conservatives have anything to learn here.

This same friend tells me that he relishes arguing with liberals like me because our arguments are so weak and implausible. He’s the second conservative to tell me that this month. In other words, we generalize poorly. We’re either slow learners or we’re driven to our generalizations by our gut instincts, not our rational minds as they are.

Psychological research* indicates that we all generalize through two parallel systems, the rational mind and the gut, and that the gut predominates. The gut is faster acting than the rational mind. It’s often right or we wouldn’t survive. But there’s plenty of evidence that the gut gets it wrong consistently on crucial matters.

Ideally, therefore, we’d be rational about when to use our gut instincts and when to be rational. Among the more troubling findings therefore is strong evidence that most of us assume we’re more rational than we in fact are. We interpret gut instincts as rational instincts. Guts have the upper hand. Our guts tell us our rational minds are telling us that our rational minds are generalizing from the evidence and not our guts. We generalize incorrectly about our generalizing performance and skill.

Me and all my Obama-supporting friends included. We assume we’re the rational ones. Given the psychological evidence regarding everyone’s ability to interpret their interpretive prowess, we’re disqualified as authorities on the subject of our own rationality. So are our equally gut-motivated Republican detractors. Indeed, posterity gets the final word on whose generalizing skills were best. It alone knows how skillful we were at generalizing to the right lessons of history to learn and not the wrong ones. Unfortunately it was unavailable for comment at the time of this writing.For a great new survey of the findings, check out Nudge: Improving decisions about health wealth and happiness.

 

The Difference Between Niche Marketing and General Online Marketing

Online marketing is a popular method of spreading the word about products, services or information on the Internet. Companies from small local business to bloggers to large corporations advertise and market their products and services online. One of the reasons why people jump to the Internet every time they want to get the word out about something is because there are billions of Internet users all over the world. People search for all types of information and products while they are online, so it is very easy to get information to a ton of people very quickly.

The one issue with getting the word out to people on the Internet is that search engine marketing has to be used in order for people to easily be able to find the information or products that the company or person is marketing. This field is very competitive and millions of websites, people and companies are trying to get their products or services noticed. There are two major types of search engine marketing; niche and general. Here are the differences between the two:

  • General marketing does not typically target a specific group of people, while niche marketing targets a demographic of people who are going to be the most likely to buy products, services or read the information that they are providing.
  • Niche marketing uses very specific and targeted keywords in campaigns, where the general method often uses broad keywords that are very competitive and expensive.
  • Since general marketing often reaches people who have no interested in products or services that are being offered, the conversion rate is often lower; money is wasted and time is also thrown away.
  • General online marketing using search engines can be done when a company or person is marketing a lot of different products or services, but niche marketing is often used when a person or company is campaigning for one product or service (even though they may offer more).

Each type of search engine marketing is meant for different situations, but people often cross the tactics and use them both in order to achieve online marketing success. Niche marketing is becoming popular as Internet marketers look for a way to have success without having to deal with all of the competition that general search engine marketing provides.

Dollar General, previously known as J.L. Turner & Son, Inc was founded by Cal Turner in Scottsville, Kentucky. The concept of all products below $1 was introduced in 1955, and the instant success of the idea led to the conversion of all stores owned by J.L. Turner and his son. The names of the stores were changed to Dollar General Corporation in 1968. The ticker symbol “DG” was introduced to signify the inexpensive household products sold by the company. The symbol was also used in the New York Stock Exchange for trading company’s stocks. The retail stores deal in regional and national brands along with home appliances, food products, apparels, seasonal products and others.

The company has over 10,000 stores across 40 U.S. states and employs more than 80, 000 employees in different positions. The retail stores chain also has a plan to add over 635 additional stores in different locations and improve 550 present stores. More than 6,000 new employees will be recruited by the company to serve the customers and manage new and improved stores.

Applicants aiming to build their careers in the retail stores chain can submit their Dollar General Job Application to specific jobs in Stores Operation, Distribution Centers and Corporate Home Office for entry level positions to management level, hourly and salaried positions.

Job Application Process

The company provides Dollar General Job Application Form online. An applicant can download and complete application form with necessary details before submitting it. The important fields that must be filled include:

Personal Information

· Full Name and Address, Phone, Email Street City State and Zip code

· Social Security No.

· Minimum age of 18 years

General information

· Criminal Conviction information (Applicants from Massachusetts and Philadelphia are excluded).

· If any relative working in the company.

· Submit documents proving legal authorization to work in the U.S.

Employment

· Details of previous Dollar General employment and reasons for leaving.

· Positions Desired

· Pay Expected

· Available to begin work

· Work hours per week

· Hold any customer service distribution center or warehouse experience

Education

· High school academic and diploma information

· College Degree details

· Professional Qualifications and Certifications

· Other Skills

Work History

Work References

Notification and Agreement

The printed Application form must be dated and signed by applicants before submitting it. They can also attach resume and cover letter with the form and submit it online.

Once you complete the application process and submit Dollar General Job Application, you can wait for the confirmation from the company. If your details match with the company’s own requirements they will respond to your application.

General Plumbing Maintenance – Generally Speaking, Go With the Specialists

The idea of the specialist is bandied about a lot in the business world a lot these days but make no mistake, a tree is judged by its fruit. To explain this age old proverb, let’s talk about plumbing because plumbing happens to be one of those areas in which the term ‘specialist’ is misused. Of course, all plumbing services are going to claim to be ‘specialist’ because all plumbing services want to identify themselves with a certain quality of service.

But judge them by their fruits. Do they have a detailed knowledge about the latest product lines? Do they offer the required maintenance to keep those product lines performing at optimum efficiency? Probably more pertinently than anything else, how do those product lines perform on a day to day basis? How often does a ‘specialist’ have to come out to service these products?

You see it’s not just a matter of having a few people on board your staff who know more than the average guy about plumbing. At Smart State Plumbing Supplies, we have a highly qualified staff to deal with maintenance needs, but more importantly we have a highly qualified staff who knows the value of reliable, state of the art products. We believe in the products we service and maintain, and we know you want the service and maintenance of those products to be a seldom exercise. We do everything in power to ensure that our commitment to maintenance intrudes as seldom as possible with day to day lifestyle. This starts with a high quality product line of which we have a specialist knowledge.

Then there is what we call General Plumbing Maintenance. This is not to be confused with fixing mistakes that could have been avoided through the sale of reliable, state of the art products. Maintenance at Smart State Plumbing Supplies means fine tuning and maintaining products that are supposed to make your life maintain an easy flow. In the area of plumbing, maintenance will always be a requirement. This is the nature of such finely balanced systems. But we make it a much easier pill to swallow by offering not just maintenance but information and choice.

Just take a peek at the Smart State Plumbing Supplies website sometime. Then you will see our dedication to keeping you informed about what we do and the products you may or may not choose to use. This is a breath of fresh air to many people who know little or nothing about how their taps run. Of course, another breath fresh air is knowing that our maintenance and service is guaranteed. We can offer that guarantee because we’re a genuine specialist team.