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Policy

Insulting Generalization

January 11, 2010 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 88, ISSUE 2

I have an aversion to the following sentence, which appeared in an article titled, "DuPont Accuses Scientist of Theft": "Chinese students tend to have stronger allegiances to their alma maters than to the companies they work for" (C&EN, Sept. 28, 2009, page 47). This is a very serious charge to make because it attacks the morality of all Chinese students.

I don't deny that this statement might apply to some Chinese students, but definitely not to all. Plus, the same can be said of some students from other countries, even from the U.S. How could the author come to such a general conclusion or statement without any objective source? Or did this just come from the top of his head? Has he any survey or study to prove it? If there is support for this statement, it should have been provided in the article. If the statement is a personal opinion or impression, please say so clearly and do not imply that it is a generally accepted truth.

James Wang
Berkeley, Calif.

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