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Assuming

 

Explanations > Thinking > Assuming

Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

 

Description

We can make thinking errors by assuming too much is true without considering exactly how true or untrue it may be.

This may come from our own assumptions about how the world works or we may too easily assume that other people are correct, particularly when the speak assertively about a subject.

Example

I look at the cloudy sky and assume it will be cloudy all day. Yet by noon it has cleared up.

A student assumes her lecturers are expert and so does not pursue lines of thought she is told are wrong.

Discussion

Assumption is a common and easy path in life, whereas thinking requires more effort and means you have to live more with uncertainty and the threats this can mean. Yet many great inventions and discoveries have been found through challenging assumptions and open exploration before coming to conclusions.

Of course we do not have time to question everything and reasonable use of assumption can be a very useful process in getting through all the challenges of the day. However, there are times when we can benefit more from being less hasty to assume, so we can give matters closer thought before making final conclusions.

So what?

When others argue, watch for assumptions and challenge these. Ask them 'How do you know?' and probe for the source of their 'knowledge'. Also challenge the sources, such as whether news reports (for example) are correct. In doing so you will discover many assumptions and dismantle many arguments.

On the other hand, you can also use assumptions of your own. Often you will get these accepted if you do so with sufficient confidence.

See also

Assumption principle, Confidence principle

 

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