Are our assumptions helpful or harmful?

are our assumptions helpful or harmful
Drawing by Adrian Serghie

   Since we enjoyed some beautiful content about cognitive biases lately, I’d like to approach another bias we “love” to do. It’s about assumptions.

   We assume. A lot. Whenever there is something we don’t have information about, we fill in the blanks with whatever we believe to be real based on our past experiences. Basically, we project our experiences into the present or future. We try to fit some pieces of puzzle we have into a new puzzle. Sometimes it fits, sometimes it doesn’t, but we keep doing it and we’re convinced we’re doing the right thing.

   Experts do something like this all the time, especially doctors. Whenever they have a case of an illness that seems to be ordinary, they assume it is and they treat it like an ordinary one because they are used for the symptoms to be associated with an ordinary illness (like a common cold). An unexperienced doctor can be more aware of the illnesses that are not that ordinary and they would probably do more investigations to make sure they use the right diagnostic (maybe it’s the beginner’s fear involved).

   Whenever we assume something we get to a certain conclusion and if we believe it to be right, we’ll ignore each and every fact that tries to prove it wrong. Therefore, we’ll ignore the reality because our fiction seems to be more real. I’m not sure how helpful that is…

   How often do you rely on assumptions? Do you find it helpful or harmful?

35 thoughts on “Are our assumptions helpful or harmful?

  1. Assumptions are inevitable and necessary. Wet can never prove anything with 100 percent certainty que sophist arguments here so we make some assumptions then later we can test as many of them as we reasonably can (varries from person to person) we can tryas few assumptions as possible but we need to evenif they’re not always ideal.


    1. If we do test them later, it’s the best! It’s like having some hypotheses that need to be tested. The problem is when those hypotheses are viewed as the absolute truth.

  2. Yeah … we definitely live this reality daily …
    Even in the way we assume people perceive our actions
    And we assume we are judged based on what we do …. Never knowing for a fact what people actually think without directly asking !
    I’m definitely guilty of making assumptions in many social situations

    1. And the problem is that we assume what other people think about us based on what we think about ourselves which has nothing to do with that person’s view. And we act based on that imaginary view. It’s a f*cked up situation.

  3. It’s a natural thing that folks do. I admit i do it enough, but sometimes my instinct is right on the money.

    But any assumption makes me think of that expression: when you assume, it makes an “ass” out of you and “me” . Which I always overthought 🤓🤓becuz if the assumer is wrong, then they’re the ass not me. If I’m wrong about this expression someone correct me😁

  4. My state of mind will determine whether the assumption is good or not. It can be the difference between anxious ruminations leading to a depression or a nice little peice of insight.

  5. I think assumptions can be both positive and negative. Assumptions via deductive reasoning and critical thinking can at times keep us safe. That being said assumptions based on stereotypes or bias can keep us stagnant and stale. I think the question renders no black/ white answer. There is a lot of wiggle room. I guess to question my motivation behind the assumption may provoke a more concrete answer……

      1. I think we can if we have enough information about the other person. I also think it depends on the assumption. Right now in the US we have a lot of hate and anger toward certain groups of people. That depth of hate and anger I cannot comprehend inside my soul. I acknowledge it, intellectually, but I don’t get where that intensity comes from, other than perhaps fear.

  6. I consider myself a realist, so usually my assumptions are based on whatever information is available. But there are times when I really want something to be, or not be. And those are the times that I really drive myself nuts while trying to figure it out. Eventually, I have no choice but to let whatever is going to be, be.

  7. I think we have to make assumptions in the moment but it’s also a good idea to regularly review our beliefs to see if they still (or ever did) hold up. Also, if anything seems to challenge or contradict our assumptions it’s time to review them!

  8. I think assumptions can be dangerous and damaging things, especially if we really want something to be or ‘not be’ some way or other as Brandi said above. But examining fruit and making reasonable judgements is a lot different than assuming.
    Unfortunately, when conscientious people meet up with deviant/abusive people, the deviant WILL play the ‘don’t assume things about me’ game to their advantage. I’ve personally seen this happen and had it happen. Coming away from a confrontation apologizing for ‘thinking the worst’ of someone who was actually doing even worse than was assumed. Just another form of crazy making.

    1. This assumption game is tricky because people see it differently than what’s stated in this post. Maybe wouldn’t be so many assumptions if it was a better communication.

  9. “All assumptions are losses. And usually the person who makes the assumption is the loser. Intuition and inner instinct are different from assumptions. Experience life. See life as it is, not as you think it is. And then live joyfully, every moment of every day”. From “Be the Loudest, Quietest Person You Can Be” – artfromperry

      1. That would have been a f*cked up assumption. I guess that if we have a habit of assuming things, we use that habit regardless the occasion. You braking that habit was more like a switch in your head once you realized how harmful that assumption was or it was more like a process you’ve been through?

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