Social Question

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Do your assumptions prevent you from considering the position of others?

Asked by RealEyesRealizeRealLies (29042 points ) March 9th, 2010

Specifically, do you assume that a person is homophobic or intolerant just because they don’t accept gay marriage? Do you assume a person is anti pro choice just because they are pro life and disagree with abortion? Do you assume a person is a Creationist just because they are a Theist?

Likewise, do you assume a person is bad and doomed to burn in Hell just because they are Atheist, Homosexual, or that they believe in Darwinian evolution?

Do our assumptions prevent us from fully considering another persons world view, or perhaps from finding a common ground in the middle?

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16 Answers

lazydaisy's avatar

One of the best pieces of advice I have gotten is ‘to be sure of your opinion, but not so sure that you can’t consider there is another side.’

Everest's avatar

I assume that most people want money.

Assumptions keep us alive. duh.

SeventhSense's avatar

This is a good question and I hope that people don’t prejudge me and I try not to prejudge others. More likely is that I can sometimes have an assumption about the trajectory of an argument with another jelly. But even this is unfair and I try not to act on it.

I think there is a habit of mind to rapidly try to analyze everything and understand the terrain but in the case of many here on Fluther it’s can be a faulty assumption for sure because there are many complex people among us. And I’m sure that extends beyond Fluther as well but it just seems pretty clear in this venue to be surprised how multi faceted we are. Yet still the compulsion to pigeonhole continues. It’s very easy to misunderstand someone and I don’t think it’s always deliberate either.

Most often we really just don’t listen to what someone is saying and assume we know their intention. I can’t tell you how many times people have answered questions that I wasn’t asking either here or in my life outside. They either try to answer the questioner and guess what their intention is trying to get ahead of them or they completely miss what you’re asking in the first place.
For example- a recent e-mail I sent on Craig’s list:
Q: “Can you tell me the exact marks on this piece of porcelain?”
A: “It’s authentic I can tell you that”

Q: ” I don’t doubt it’s authenticity but I wanted to know if it was an earlier mark”

Often even after saying, “Can you answer these exact questions, a, b, c”, etc. they still resist. It just puzzles me. I think some of the greatest challenges of the coming century may be psychological ones.
Some people are far too caught up in patterns of behavior to have any objectivity as well and are completely ignorant as to why they even respond the way they do. I’ve even heard of others here on Fluther who have lists of people they either respond to or don’t Inquisitor style. And maybe that’s it. We rationally don’t believe that some are destined to hell or that some Theists should be banished to Science Purgatory and should plead at the throne of Copernicus, but in the moment we’d like to send a few to hell or punish them for their “ignorance”. But hopefully we realize that’s just evil and we’re all human.

liminal's avatar

I do have presumptions and biases that keep me from noticing the perspectives of others. To be further transparent, I don’t always realize when I am digging into my bias at the expense of hearing another’s perspective. I think this is true of many.

I see value in spending just as much time on acknowledging assumption and resistance as we do on the actual issues at hand. I have grown accustomed to putting myself into the presence of differing perceptions, yet I remember the fear I first felt at doing so. It is with this understanding that I offer and ask for patience in situations where perceptions are bound to clash.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I try not to infer another persons opinions about many issues from information about their viewpoint on one issue. It might cause me to inquire about their other viewpoint, or not.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I am fully capable of understanding and disagreeing with someone’s views without wanting a boxing match.I know what my values are.I am not required to know what everyone else’s are.People are too easily offended and those who are usually wish to be.Understanding someone’s viewpoint does not imply agreement.Assumptions are based on experiential education and in no way get in the way of my rational judgement.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Thats the problem with assumptions: It’s taking your own thoughts only into consideration and not considering other valid options/possibilities.

Cruiser's avatar

Assumptions are nothing more than judgments by a person too lazy or cowardly to invest the time and effort into gaining a better appreciation for the details at hand.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

People who are against gay marriage are treating people in an unfair fashion – they may not be homophobic in that they may be all right with gay people but not treating queer people in the same way as anyone else is wrong, period, that is an opinion of mine I will never backtrack on. I can understand why some would think things that they do and can see where they’re coming from but that doesn’t excuse it for me.

Lately I’ve been feeling like a punching bag because of many of my own ideas – people bond over making fun of my ideas, reiterating to themselves that there is nothing wrong with them when there is so much wrong with their own opinions. I’m used to this, I know that those who are against gay marriage feel like punching bags to me. So it goes, we’re punching bags to each other – at least I take a stand instead of trying to not express any thoughts.

escapedone7's avatar

I do have a hang up when I feel like someone is being unfair or attacking people for (race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ad infinitum). Hate is just hate. It takes so many different forms. When I sense it, I react and lash back. I feel like a mother tiger and want to protect the cubs. Mean people suck. Rawr !

I am completely guilty of this. Whenever someone infuses whatever point they are trying to make about politics or morality or anything else with hate speech I become instantly deaf to their message and just focus on the fact they are hating on innocent people. Then I just argue. Maybe I should stop being such a bitch. I think I hate haters. Is that hypocritical? Sure! I’m a hypocritical bitch. I hate hate.

Vunessuh's avatar

I don’t assume someone is ignorant just because I disagree with what they choose to believe in.
If I’m meeting this person for the first time, whether in person or on the internet, I never go off of first impressions. That’s a real short time to get to know a person to start automatically judging who they are and what they’re all about. I think assumptions or hunches are okay, as long as you’re open-minded enough to discover new things about people. In the end, they can either prove you wrong or prove you right.
I’ve been in both circumstances.
I’ve met some people online and I thought they were, to be specific, a little cold and uptight. Being the person that I am, I made the choice to get to know them better instead of blowing them off because of the initial vibe I received from them. I now consider these people really great friends of mine.
I’ve also met some people that I thought were awesome right off the bat, only to find that they were complete jackasses later on. Luckily, I didn’t invest too much time in these relationships, but it sure sucks to figure out that someone is no near as great as you thought they were.

I’ve indeed been in positions where people immediately judged me for being who I am.
I’ve been told numerous times that I’m going to burn in Hell because I’m an Atheist.
I don’t get upset. I just laugh my ass off.

But it does suck for someone to harshly assume that you’re one way or assume that you’re doing something they don’t approve of when you really aren’t. I don’t understand how hard it is to just ask someone, but people find convenience in assuming instead of asking. Or, their perception is so warped that they only believe something to be one particular way and aren’t open to understanding a situation differently. Don’t jump to a conclusion when you weren’t brave enough to simply reach out and ask a question. Now that is a coward and someone taking the easy way out, most likely because they hate to hear that they might have been wrong.
But if you jump to conclusions and make judgements before evaluating a person and/or situation, well over half the time you will be wrong. What those people don’t realize is that people will actually respect you more if you admit your faults. I guess some people value their ego more rather than their relationships with others.

Supacase's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Just for the sake of this question… What if I believe all legally recognized couples should have civil unions, not marriages, performed by government officials? Marriages should be religious ceremonies recognized only by that religion, not the government. I would be against gay marriage because I feel it is yet another step in what I consider the wrong direction for everyone. I don’t want gays or anyone else to have a legally recognized marriage.

If the only information you had about me was that I am not for gay marriage, wouldn’t your assumptions prevent you from considering the rest of that position, which is neither discriminatory nor hateful, as a possibility? If I were actively working to make it happen, would you still feel I am being unfair toward gay people?

I haven’t been around much lately so I haven’t seen any of the punching bag stuff you mentioned, but since that has apparently been a problem lately, I want to assure you that is not my intent at all. I am not trying to attack you. I am just genuinely curious.

This is just hypothetical. I personally do believe in gay marriage. Or civil unions for everyone. I don’t care as long as it is the same all around.

Trillian's avatar

@Supacase can I please jump in without causing too much of a ruckus? Your statement that “it should be the same all around” seems to be an assumption in itself. Your assumption is that differing ceremonies are a bad thing. That it would be a bad thing for this couple to be married, and that couple to have a civil union. Why is this?
I ask because of a similar line of thought I had about some stupid political maneuvering at my workplace. The state funds us. We care for a wide range of people, some of whom are MRDD. (Mentally challenged) We recently were told that some people at the state level didn’t want us using terms like “high functioning” to describe any of our individuals. The woman said that it “pointed them out as different”. She didn’t seem to realize that the flaw was in her own thinking. Her assumption is that being different is bad. That we all need to be the same.
Do you see where I’m going with this? She wants us to pretend that our people are not different in any way, or at least pretend not to notice. This, to me, is the same as The Emperors New Clothes.
They are different. That’s why we take care of them. There is nothing wrong with being different.
So why should one couple not be allowed to choose marriage, and another couple choose civil union. Why do we all need to do the same thing?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Supacase Your example doesn’t work because you’d never say ‘I’m against gay marriage’ if you believed all marriage should be delegated to the religious community. Why do I know this? Because I hold this position that you describe and when I speak of it ‘I say I am against the institution of marriage for all people’ because it’s for all people and there’s no reason to pick a group out of all people to describe a position that applies to more than that group.

Aster's avatar

@SeventhSense Beautifully written post ! I agree one hundred percent on everything you said. GA

SeventhSense's avatar

Thank you Aster.

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