From Influence: Science & Practice, p. 7:
You and I exist in an extraordinarily complicated environment, easily the most rapidly moving and complex that has ever existed on the planet. To deal with it, we need shortcuts. We can't be expected to recognize and analyze all the aspects in each person, event, and situation we encounter in even one day. We haven't the time, energy, or capacity for it. Instead, we must very often use our stereotypes, our rules of thumb, to classify things according to a few key features and then to respond without thinking when one or another of these trigger features is present.
Sometimes the behavior that unrolls will not be appropriate for the situation, because not even the best stereotypes and trigger features work every time. We will accept their imperfections since there really is no other choice. Without these features we would stand frozen--cataloging, appraising, and calibrating--as the time for action sped by and away. From all indications, we will be relying on these stereotypes to an even greater extent in the future.
I think this goes a long way toward explaining why people reduce reality to stereotypical, ideological talking points that have only a passing resemblance to the complexity of the reality in which they and the rest of us live. It's the only way they can process the chaos of their experience.
There's a part of me that is disturbed by this, but also a part of me that is ok with it. It disturbs me that there are way too many people living within a world shaped by stereotypes that have little to do with the world as it really exists, and their "behavior that unrolls" is not "appropriate for the situation", and too many of these people have way too much power.
The part of me that is ok with it recognizes that in the end it's always about what the Greeks called phronesis, practical wisdom. The people we trust are those who are able to work with complexity, they are vulnerable to and immersed in the world as it is, but in a way that discovers patterns rather than imposes them or projects them. They see structural similarities, they think metaphorically and analogically, and they make judgments, not with certainty, but with a confidence that the analytical type cannot when it comes to the intangibles of human nature and behavior.
Stereotypes are simply organizational patterns that make the chaotic buzz of reality comprehensible, but too often have outlived their usefulness. They work at best as shorthand for what we once knew, but not for what we must know now. So while no one can master all the informtion that we have available to us, there are some who have a talent for paying attention and for noticing what's important and filtering out what is not, for allowing patterns to emerge, the way the experienced chess player sees patterns of possibilities on the board in a way a novice cannot. These people will be the creators of new stereotypes and narratives that will have legitimacy so long as they work, and when they don't, the cycle will begin again.
I think the current rationalist technocratic narrative is driving on fumes, and that we are on the edge of some kind of breakthrough. The old thing lost its center and its explanatory power long ago; it holds together only by force of habit and for want of something to replace it.