To recap, then: in exploring and coming to understand their world, it is necessary and inevitable that people will theorise, generalise, and make assumptions. That is all part of learning. HOWEVER, there is a vital second step to this procedure: we must be willing to test our theory and, if it doesn’t work, to revise or even abandon it. You might even have to do a complete u turn. Without this second part, our mental processes are a recipe for prejudice and bigotry.
Unfortunately, ours is a world of polarised politics and opinions. Uncompromising conflict is celebrated and total pig-headed refusal to see somebody else’s point of view is honoured as courageous and principled. From Parliament to Facebook, the moment an opinion has been voiced, no matter how thoughtless or off the cuff, it is likely to bring down furious, hate-filled condemnation and derision, and so must be furiously defended. At once and without compromise. That vague half-thought instantly becomes fixed and rigid.