This fallacy occurs when a generalization is made without sufficient evidence or support. If a claim about something is based on too small of a sample or single experience, then the generalization becomes unreasonable. It is not reasonable to say that something is true about an entire group, simply because one instance seems to prove it to be true. This fallacy also occurs when evidence used to support a general claim is not representative of the topic of focus. In these cases, the hasty generalization becomes a comparison of apples to oranges.
Hasty generalizations can be convincing because the reasons usually rely on true personal examples or evidence and the conclusion often appears to be true. However, it is important to remember that in order for a generalization to be reasonable, there needs to be enough relevant and substantive evidence from specific cases to validate a sweeping claim. Since the use of personal experiences to support an argument is a very popular strategy, remember to be skeptical of examples that appear to be rare, too specific, or not truly representative of the larger picture.
Example Argument: “My friend was attacked by a pit bull so all pit bulls are violent.”
Premise: I know of one violent pit bull dog
Conclusion: All pit pull dogs are violent
It is unfair to use one bad encounter with a pit bull dog to make the assertion that all pit bulls are violent. In fact, there are several studies that show that pit bulls are a very friendly and caring bread of dog.